HOTLINE - week of September 13, 2010

CWS continues assisting flood-affected Pakistani families; Farmers in the Dominican Republic are learning about crop diversification and new planting methods; World Water Week symposium urges new ways of looking at water problem

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Said Qamar
Pakistan--Said Qamar shows how a landslide on July 27 destroyed his plot of land.
Photo:  Chris Herlinger/CWS


Pakistani families are beginning the painful steps of reclaiming their lives following devastating floods.  One family who received a food package from Church World Service lives in Jarnay village, in the northern district of Shangla.  The challenges facing Said Qamar, 48, and his wife, Pareena Bibi, 35, and their children are considerable.

Said Qamar recalls that the thunder, torrential water and rains and resulting landslide of July 27 came with little warming.  There was just enough time to evacuate the family--eight of their own children and four nieces and nephews--to higher ground. 

When he returned to the homestead and small plot of land in a riverbed area that had been in his family for a century, Qamar saw his property--a small plot that had borne bananas, quavas, melons, apricots and peaches, potatoes and chilies--laid waste, covered with rocks and boulders.

Though a few trees are still standing, Qamar’s livelihood is now essentially gone.  He is contemplating a move either to one of Pakistan’s urban areas, or, if there is a way to salvage the farm, perhaps nearby to begin anew.

Qamar acknowledges neither move will be easy.  “When it rains now, we’re afraid of what could happen.”

Those are not the only concerns facing the family.  “We owned as many as 120 trees and earned our income through the sale of their fruit,” says Pareena Bibi.  “I cannot say much about the devastation because it saddens me to talk about it.  And my youngest daughter has bad skin disease after the floods.”

Bibi adds, “I lost my kitchen utensils and we could not save much in such a short time.  The floods have taken away our beds, clothes, house, and land.  There is no stable family income anymore and this is our main worry.”

The family is thankful for a food package CWS provided, that included wheat flour, sugar, cooking oil and tea.  

“This is a very difficult Ramadan,” Qamar said of the Muslim holy month.  “And what can we do for Eid?  There are no clothes for the children, no gifts for the children.”

CWS is providing food for some 84,000 people displaced by flooding. More than 100,000 people are receiving emergency and preventative care through CWS mobile health units and CWS-managed health facilities.  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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Dominican Republic

Félix Morel is a farmer in the community of La Maya in Monte Plata.  Through workshops and training provided by CWS partner Social Services of the Dominican Churches (SSID), he learned about the importance of crop diversification and planting methods.

Morel and other farmers learned how to get more out of their small parcels of land.  By promoting non-traditional crops that are in high demand locally, farmers are able to sell what they don’t consume, and planting methods, such as limiting the number of varieties planted and spacing plants appropriately, lead to greater production.

In the past, Morel earned little money with his other crops and only had enough to feed his family.  

Morel decided to put into action what he learned from SSID and decided not to plant traditional crops, like plantains or yucca, which can be difficult to sell because of over-production.  Instead he planted squash, oregano, and passion fruit--less common crops that grow well in the Dominican Republic and are always in demand.

With the money Morel has earned from selling his new crops, he has been able to build a new home and send his children to the university.  He continues to work his small plot of land and is quick to tell all the farmers in his community everything that he has learned in the workshops, so their lives can become better, too.

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Stockholm symposium water experts “are urging us to get away from looking at water, land and climate change as if they’re in separate boxes,” says CWS East Africa Regional Coordinator Daniel Tyler, also attending the Stockholm event.  Paraphrasing one speaker, Tyler says, “We’re being reminded here that you ‘can’t talk about soil without talking about water.’”

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Through CWS water projects, families in many parts of the world are gaining clean drinking water for themselves and their livestock, and new water resources for irrigating food crops.Back to top

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