HOTLINE - week of September 20, 2010

CWS emergency aid continues in Pakistan; one boy's story; CWS advocates for clean water and sanitation; puts water program in action in Cambodia; Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York this week

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In Badalai Village, Swat, Pakistan, 10-year-old Rizvanullah helped his father break through a wall to allow the family to escape their flooded home. Later, with the help of a CWS volunteer, he carried a large family food package and other supplies to where his family is now staying near Madyan.
Photo:  Salman Rashid/CWS


Rizvanullah, 10, and his family, who lived in Badalai village, near the town of Madyan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, lost their home, land and crops to devastating floods.  The family’s plot of land is now a mass of boulders that were brought down by the torrent. The family is now renting a room, and Rizvan’s father Sanaullah has gone to a nearby town where he’s working to support the family.

Rizvan heard about a Church World Service food distribution point in Fatehpur village, near Madyan, and accompanied some friends there.  The food package, consisting of wheat flour, sugar, rice, lentils, tea and cooking oil, is a heavy load even for a grown man.  It was too much for 10-year-old Rizvan.  A kindly CWS volunteer helped carry the food package home to Rizvan’s family.

In the mountain villages, thousands of families like Rizvan’s have lost their arable land.  The topsoil is gone and only rocks lay where there used to be crops and fruit trees on terraced fields.  

Thus far, CWS is providing food for some 91,200 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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Cambodia has made strides over the past two decades in providing clean water and sanitation to its urban areas.

“We applaud Cambodia’s advances in making clean water accessible to so many more people in Phnom Penh,” says Agneta Dau Valler, CWS Country Representative for Vietnam and Cambodia. “However, the situation is still completely different in the countryside.”

This past week, Dau Valler, along with Mao Sophal, water program specialist and CWS senior staff member, attended a consultation in Geneva on issues of access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right.  Mao spoke on the issue of affordability of clean water and sanitation for Cambodia’s poorest.  For clean water and sanitation to become a reality for all in Cambodia and the rest of the world’s poorest countries, water and sanitation infrastructure and management also have to be accessible and affordable to all, says Mao.

In rural Cambodia--in Svay Rieng, Kompong Thom and remote Preah Vihear provinces--families participating in the CWS program gain upgraded wells, latrines, or bio-sand water filters for safe drinking water, and contribute labor and resources as possible.  The program also provides water and sanitation resources for health centers and primary schools.  Families are also assisted in growing home gardens for better food supply and income-generation.

In related news, on July 28, the UN General Assembly approved an historic non-binding resolution recognizing "the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right.”  The UN is promoting access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and making recommendations that could help reach Millennium Development Goals on safe water and sanitation.

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Millennium Development Goals

This week, CWS is speaking and acting for the world's poor at the Millennium Development Goal Summit in New York City, Sep. 20-22.  CWS and other members of the international Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance are calling on government leaders to make “concrete and clear strategies” so that MDG targets will be met by 2015.

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