HOTLINE - week of September 6, 2010

CWS continues medical care and other recovery assistance in Pakistan; World Water Week (Sep. 5-11); CWS helps to restore food security in northern Haiti; Sep. 8 is International Literacy Day.

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CWS medical team member treating patient
Pakistan--A CWS medical team member treats a flood survivor with a serious skin lesion. CWS is assisting some 100,000 flood survivors with basics such as food, shelter and medical care.
Photo:  Chris Herlinger/CWS

Pakistan

Residents of the northern district of Kohistan, with its steep valleys and isolated villages, are coping with Pakistan’s recent devastating floods and are worried about the coming winter.  Their concerns are based on pre-existing problems in Kohistan--malnutrition, tuberculosis and eye and skin infections--all common here prior to the worst natural disaster in Pakistan’s history.

In the past week, Church World Service provided medical care for hundreds of people in several locales through its mobile health units. CWS also distributed food packages to dozens of flood-affected families.

“This is the only health care we receive,” said Mohammad Khalid, one of dozens of patients able to see a physician from the CWS program in the flood-affected village of Mohandari.

In one of Kohistan’s villages, 72-year-old farm laborer Noor Paras, who had already received one of the CWS food packages, praised the response of CWS and its partners to the floods and described the food packages he and his family received “as a gift from God.”

But needs remain dire in Pakistan, given the potential for the spread of infectious diseases and wide-spread food shortages, said Dr. Qamar Zaman, a medical coordinator for CWS.  He stressed the need for continued support for humanitarian work in Pakistan.”  He added: “We're grateful for the international community that thinks of Pakistanis as their brothers and sisters.”

CWS is providing food for some 84,000 people displaced by flooding, and further assistance is being planned. Three mobile health units and six permanent CWS-managed health facilities are providing emergency and preventative care for more than 100,000 people.  CWS is also providing shelter kits (tents, blankets, plastic sheets, cooking utensils, jerry cans, oil lamps and oil), and is planning construction trades training, cash-for-work projects and grants to help in the recovery effort.

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World Water Week

With more than a billion people worldwide lacking clean water, CWS works to help communities access and manage their own potable water supplies and watershed sources.  To support that work, a team from CWS is in Stockholm, Sweden, this week sharing information about CWS clean water programs, including sand dams, and learning the latest techniques, such as rainwater harvesting. The Stockholm meeting is the largest annual gathering where experts in the field share learnings on how best to address water challenges around the world.

Writing from the conference, CWS Regional Coordinator for Africa Dan Tyler notes the degree to which water and broader development issues are intertwined--interdependent--with sustainability as a critical component.  "We look at our programs as water, food security, improved livelihoods... we need to go further in integrating our programs," he observes.

"If a village water system is not well managed, then the system will not be well maintained and thus not sustainable," affecting the community in an array of ways.

Tyler goes on to report what the team is learning about the "economics of sanitation."  Research is indicating, he says, that "good sanitation is a socially profitable investment," returning $7-$9 in social benefit for every dollar invested.  Tyler says he hopes to integrate such findings into the work of CWS.

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Haiti

Life as a farmer has never been more difficult than it is now, says octogenarian Arnold Alcimé, recalling earlier times when credit and new equipment were easier to get and when the land itself seemed to suffer less.

Though the seemingly lush farmland near Petite Riviere in the northern province of Artibonite--often called Haiti's "rice bowl"-- looks fertile, recent years have taken a severe toll through hurricanes and deforestation, which made farmland in valleys like the one in which Alcimé lives all the more vulnerable.

CWS is expanding its support for a program to assist 13 farmer cooperatives with more than 3,000 members in Haiti’s Artibonite and Northwest regions.  The program is also helping people who were internally displaced by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Port-au-Prince.  For more on this story, “Rural Haiti: The issue is food,” and CWS response, visit www.churchworldservice.org/news.

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Literacy

As International Literacy Day (Sep. 8) approaches, CWS continues to support literacy training around the world.  

In Cambodia, for example, 25 members of self-help groups from Tuol Chan and Thormaneath villages, Kompong Thom Province, attended literacy classes put on by CWS partner Khmer Organization for Rural Community Development (KORCD) this past year.  Community members from two neighboring villages saw the approach to literacy in the first two villages and are eager to involve their own villages.  

Voi Suong, leader of one of the villages, says, “After I visited the literacy class in Tuol Chan village, I saw the students write and read sentences in lessons related to vegetable growing, personal hygiene, and other lessons related to community development.”

KORCD is now supporting two new classes with 32 literacy students, 27 of whom are women.

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