HOTLINE - week of March 22, 2010

March 22 is World Water Day: CWS urges accelerated U.S. efforts to address water needs, and works with communities in Haiti, East Africa, Cambodia--and elsewhere--to gain access to clean water; CWS continues to support quake recovery efforts in Chile; Flooding in the Upper Midwest

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Boy getting his face washedHaiti--Water remains a scarce commodity in Port-au-Prince, in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake.  Here a boy gets his face washed with water from a CWS partner-supported program.
Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance

World Water Day

March 22, World Water Day, is a day to commemorate the importance of water throughout the world--and a reminder that 1.1 billion people in the world still rely on unsafe sources of drinking water.

Church World Service is urging the U.S. to accelerate its efforts to help meet current and future water needs for all and is urging Congress to approve $500 million in global funding for safe drinking water and sanitation.  CWS executive director Rev. John L. McCullough says adequate U.S. funding for global safe water is vital in addressing “what is the bottom line requirement for life, health, food security and sustainable development in both climate-challenged poor countries and, increasingly, a priority in developed countries.”  

In Haiti, CWS-supported efforts are providing clean water to survivors of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.  Through partner Viva Rio, some 47,000 gallons of water are being delivered daily to people displaced by the quake and living in camps throughout Port-au-Prince.  

CWS is working to assist quake-affected Haitians--including at-risk children, people with disabilities, and displaced persons along the Haiti-Dominican border--through long-time partners in Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic.  This includes material aid and plans for long-term recovery work.  For more info, visit

In East Africa, CWS's Mary Obiero says that, where CWS is assisting communities with dependable water sources, “There is no longer a struggle between the men, the women and the animals.  Everybody has their own water.”  Obiero makes connections between bees, cows, gender equality, and one thing that is essential to keeping the peace in East Africa: Water,  in the slideshow video at

In Cambodia  this past year, 230 families in 12 villages in Choam Khsant District, Preah Vihear Province, gained 24 wells--nine with hand pumps, with the help of Church World Service.  The Choam Khsant High School, with 200 students and nine teachers, also received a well with a hand pump.  The villagers provided labor and resources for construction of the wells.  

Now the villagers can grow vegetables without waiting for the rainy season, and they can raise mango, jack fruit and lemon trees, using the year-round water now available to them.

“I became proud when the well and hand pump in our village was completed,” says Roeurn Ros.  “Now I have already harvested two hundred fruit trees, providing fruit for my family and to sell to my neighbors.”

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Church World Service continues to support efforts of partners in Chile responding to the devastating Feb. 27 earthquake.  The destruction of infrastructure, including homes, hospitals and bridges is enormous. Two million homes have been damaged, and 500,000 destroyed.

The CWS-supported response includes providing 1,500 families in Concepcion, Talca and Curico with food, non-food items, temporary shelter and training in water, sanitation and hygiene matters.  Assistance will also include cash-for-work projects, small income generating activities, repair and rebuilding of houses, capacity building, advocacy, training in risk management and psychosocial assistance.  The initial emergency phase of the response is expected to last six weeks; the rehabilitation phase up to one year.

Each family--averaging five people--is receiving one food pack per week for eight weeks, including spaghetti, tea, tomato sauce, wheat flour, legumes, sugar, vegetable oil, rice, milk , tuna, butter, and yeast.  The families are also receiving hygiene items.  Some are also receiving blankets and tents, based on their needs.   

In the long-term, 100 families will have their homes reconstructed and 500 will have them repaired.

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Upper Midwest flooding

In Fargo, ND, the Red River crested on 3/21, at 19 feet above flood level but four feet lower than last year.  After weeks of sandbagging, focus there and in nearby Moorhead is on watching and maintaining the dikes.  Waters are beginning to recede, but are expected to stay above flood stage in parts of the region for some days, leaving many farm fields and roads flooded.  

CWS is prepared to provide material goods, training and mentoring to local and state-wide recovery efforts, should the need arise. 

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Your support for Church World Service work around the world and in the U.S. is urgently needed.


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