HOTLINE - week of May 31, 2010
Tropical storm devastates parts of Central America; Dam and flood threat in northern Pakistan, CWS ready to respond; CWS helping farmers gain food security in southern Pakistan; World Environment Day
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Pakistan--Kahuo and Wukji, along with their son Danjee, are living a better life since they began participating in a CWS-supported food security program in Sindh province.
Tropical Storm Agatha has claimed at least 146 lives in Central America and has forced more than 94,000 persons from their homes. Torrential rains from the storm caused mudslides and flooding in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, dumping more than three feet of rain in some regions.
At least 123 people died in Guatemala, Reuters reported, and 59 others were reported missing, officials said. Nine people perished in El Salvador and 14 in Honduras.
CWS is supporting efforts by fellow ACT Alliance members. Among those responding is the Conference of Evangelical Churches of Guatemala (CIEDEG), a long-time CWS partner.
Some 40,000 residents of northern Pakistan face the threat posed by a dam that was formed by a mudslide in January, which may breach its banks and cause massive flash floods. More than 14,000 people are displaced and another 25,000 have been evacuated as a precaution
CWS and other members of the ACT Pakistan Forum will deploy a response team and relief supplies as soon as the flooding subsides. CWS expects to be part of efforts to distribute non-food relief items and food to some 1,000 families in the Allai Valley, where CWS also supports recovery and development programs.
In Togachi village, Mirpurkhas district, Sindh province, in southern Pakistan, a food security project is changing lives. “To this day, my wife and I feel bad that we had to take Danjee out of school for a year and that we had to make that difficult choice. But now this is no longer the case, because our son is back at school,” says Wukji, a farmer who goes only by his first name. “My wife, Kahuo, and I had been going through rough times and the rising cost of living made it difficult for us to survive,” he adds.
Wukji and Kahuo, working with CWS and implementing partner SSEWA-Pak, are part of the success story of the CWS-supported project. Through the project, farmers started cultivating more land using high quality seeds and water from new irrigation ponds. Women joined self-help groups, started saving, and became small business entrepreneurs.
One household at a time, positive change is occurring rapidly. The food security projects in Mirpurkhas and Umerkot districts are helping families rise above a crisis caused by rising food prices, droughts, water shortages, and other factors. Before the CWS project, families had to choose between food and everything else. More than putting food on the table, the crisis adversely affected education and health care.
"I did not have access to good quality seeds and fertilizers, which made it even harder for me to feed my family. Since I received training from the farming resource center… we have seen a change in our lives. I am thankful for the wheat and mustard seeds I received, and due to their good quality, there is increased productivity. With the help of the seed bank and composting techniques, farmers in my village have increased their yield. Prices are indeed rising, but we feel we are saving now.
“Recently we purchased two goats and my animal feed preservation training is an additional savings for us. As these goats grow, I know we will earn more income."
Kahuo adds, "We have resources now, and we save because I grow vegetables in our backyard. I am thankful that I do not have to travel to the market anymore."
Within one year of starting the project, Wukji and Kahuo’s son returned to school. Without support and resources infused into their community, Danjee may never have returned to school.
Through the project, families have improved the capacity to withstand the food security crisis and pursue every parent’s dream for their children--a healthy life, complete education, and choices for a better future.
World Environment Day
June 5 marks World Environment Day, an opportunity to reflect and act on issues affecting the environment. Across the globe, CWS is working to help vulnerable communities protect their environmental resources, which translates into stronger food security, greater protection from natural disaster, and providing a stronger foundation for future generations to build upon.
In Honduras, a CWS-supported project is helping families grow vegetable gardens while protecting water, soil and forest resources; in parts of Kenya, CWS-installed sand dams are an environmentally sustainable way to access water; and in Kompong Thom province, Cambodia, villages are benefiting from construction of dams and water gates that help to mitigate the effects of drought and the lack of a sustained source of water.
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