HOTLINE - week of August 2, 2010

Flooding in Pakistan: CWS responds; recovery continues in Haiti; communities in the Gran Chaco gain new water sources; U.S. summer emergencies; CWS Emergency Clean-up Buckets needed.

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Pakistani women wade through flood waters
Pakistan--Women wade through flood waters with their children while evacuating from Nowshera, located in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Photo:  REUTERS/Adrees Latif, courtesy


Since July 21, unusually heavy monsoon rains have hit much of Pakistan.

For millions of Pakistanis, floods during monsoon season are nothing new, but the magnitude of this year's floods--said to be the worst since 1929--is devastating, reports Church World Service staff in Pakistan.  At least 1,100 people have died in the flooding.

CWS has begun distributing emergency food and shelter supplies in some of the affected areas. Based on assessments conducted by its staff and local partners, CWS plans to provide emergency food assistance to 35,000 people, emergency shelter supplies to meet the needs of 17,500 people, and mobile health access for 17,500 people.

The food packages consist of wheat flour (20 kg); rice (20 kg); cooking oil (2.5 liters); legumes (2 kg); sugar (2 kg); tea (200 grams); iodized salt (800 grams). The shelter kits include winterized tents and plastic sheeting, 6 x 4 meters.

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Massive shelter issues, the need for local procurement, improved engagement with civil society, and additional funding head the list of requirements for successful reconstruction in Haiti, a group of Haitian and U.S. advocates told members of Congress and interfaith leaders in two Washington events this past week.

One speaker highlighted the role of a number of Haitian organizations, including those that focus on rural and agricultural development, women’s movements, and cooperatives and micro-finance initiatives, as important civil society counterparts who should be actively engaged in consultation around recovery and reconstruction in Haiti.  CWS is engaged with such work in Haiti--particularly in the Artibonite and Northwest regions, where cooperatives are helping families to improve their lives.  

Donna Derr, Development and Humanitarian Assistance Director for CWS, agrees that local procurement is an important way to support both Haitians in need of emergency food assistance and local farmers whose prices might otherwise be depressed by the arrival of free foreign foodstuffs.  “After working with farming communities in Haiti for several decades, we see local procurement as a cornerstone of sustainable recovery of the agriculture sector,” explains Derr.

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Gran Chaco, South America

As we approach the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (Aug. 9), CWS continues to assist the people of the Gran Chaco region in South America.  

Drought is common in the Gran Chaco--covering northwest Argentina, southern Paraguay and southeast Bolivia--and reservoirs often go dry.  

This past year, 42 families in three communities in Argentina and Bolivia gained access to a reliable source of water--water tanks and wells--thanks to Church World Service and local partners.  

In the Argentine Chaco, two indigenous Wichi communities are benefiting from newly-constructed tanks and wells.  In Bolivia, 21 Guaraní families in the Itaparara community are using the water from their tank in their households, for watering their animals and for irrigating fruit and vegetable gardens.   

The families chose the best location for the wells and tanks. Each tank holds about 1,300 gallons of water.  The communities participated in the construction and contributed local materials, such as bricks.  One community contributed more than half-a-mile of pipe, needed to transport water from a local stream to their tank.  

“We are really happy,” says a member of the Wichi community in Argentina. “And we thank the people who helped us with this source of water that we so badly needed--which is now close to our home.”

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U.S. summer emergencies

Flooding in recent weeks throughout the Midwest has put additional pressures on a region that had already been affected by earlier floods and tornadoes. Hundreds of homes in at least four states--Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin--have been either destroyed or damaged.

In Missouri, CWS has been asked to help Big Lake with long-term recovery organizing.  In addition, CWS just completed a round of Recovery Tools and Training workshops in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama (sites of earlier disasters this year) and will be following up with additional mentoring and/or webinar instruction as additional needs for long-term recovery capacity are identified.

In the aftermath of U.S. storms and flooding, CWS Emergency Clean-up Buckets are urgently needed. For instructions on assembling the Buckets, visit

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