HOTLINE - week of November 8, 2010

CWS continues assisting flood-affected Pakistani families; Haiti picks up after Hurricane Tomas, recovery continues; Helping provide safe water in Mozambique

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Pakistan: Ramzan stands with his tent at CWS' tent distribution point at Golarchi, Sindh.
Photo: Saleem Dominic/CWS


In mountainous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which has suffered greatly from floods that began the end of July, one struggling institution is Balakot's hospital, which has long received support from Church World Service.

With about three-quarters of the hospital's equipment now lost and the hospital building rendered uninhabitable because of flood damage, medical staff is scrambling. Medical technician Basharat Ahmed says the maternal unit has been set up at a temporary locale, while the staff looks for another location.

The need to rebuild is crucial, Ahmed and others emphasized, because the hospital was the primary health facility for a surrounding region of some 300,000 people. “All the valley depended on this hospital," says hospital director Zia Ulhaq. "We need a hospital immediately.”

"If you don't intervene, it will be devastating," adds CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan Associate Director Dennis Joseph, noting specifically the importance of providing tents as part of the CWS response. "A lot of people will die."  Considerably more remains to be done as winter approaches.

United Nations officials in Pakistan warn that flood survivors face a serious threat of having insufficient food, clothing and temporary shelter. The UN says that 7 million Pakistanis still do not have sufficient blankets, clothing or shelter.

CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan Director Marvin Parvez said the approaching months are among the most critical for responding to the floods, given the overlapping problems of the approaching winter and gaps in the international response.

Fifteen-year-old Ramzan, from Sindh province, is left alone to care for his six younger siblings. Ramzan’s parents died almost two years ago, before the devastating floods hit. Ramzan’s house was washed away by the floods.  During CWS's tent distribution in Golarchi, community members informed staff about Ramzan’s needs. “We are protected from rain and sun and under this tent we feel comfortable because this is our tent.” Displaced families including Ramzan and his siblings who reside in a non-winterized tent remain exposed to various risks.

As of November 8, CWS's response in Pakistan had included the distribution of 18,700 food packages, as well as 500 tents and other temporary shelter supplies and household items, with another 260 tents to be distributed in Badin in Sindh. CWS is also providing health services through mobile and basic health units. The mobile health teams have provided more than 36,000 consultations.

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Hurricane Tomas hit Haiti this past weekend, triggering mudslides and flooding. Early estimates by Haiti’s civil protection department are that some 20 people were killed and some 6,000 families left homeless by Tomas’ winds and rains.   

CWS, which has a long history of emergency response and development work in the country, prepared for Tomas by pre-positioning 10,000 tarps and a sizeable stock of hygiene kits.

"While Tomas missed the center of Haiti, sparing the thousands living in tents, it did hit the remote Northwest where CWS supports agricultural co-ops.  Around 400 families have damaged houses, farmlands and livestock.  CWS is providing tents, hygiene kits, and food to affected families," notes Aaron Tate, the Haiti earthquake response coordinator for Church World Service.

CWS is providing post-storm assistance to those in need in the vulnerable communities it has been assisting since the January 12 quake, including people with disabilities in Port-au-Prince, and then as needed to augment efforts of members of the ACT Alliance also working in Haiti.

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Most of the more than 38,000 people in Maúa district, southwest Niassa Province, have had inadequate water and sanitation.  They have suffered from waterborne diseases, as they often drink water from unclean sources.  

"CWS is working with partner CCM (Christian Council of Mozambique) in enabling communities in Niassa Province who surrender weapons left from the civil war to have clean water systems,” says CWS’s Naomi Hall Opiyo.

Today, weapons are being exchanged for clean water sources and some 25,000 people in the district are benefiting from the new plan.  For the last 1 ½ years, CCM has been working in the Maúa district  to ensure communities have access to clean drinking water; establish water, peace and reconciliation committees; construct and repair water sources; and educate people about sanitation and health.

CCM plans to complete the construction or repair of 50 water sources--including deep borehole and shallow wells--this year.  Communities are learning how to manage water sources and how to get and keep water in other ways, including through reservoirs, and how to reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases.

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