Archive for March, 2011

Responding to the Urban Challenge – World Water Day

Posted on Monday, March 21st, 2011 at 1:44 pm

By Thomas Fergusson, Water Engineer for Concern in Haiti

Boy is bathed at a Concern-supported stabilization center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, just before leaving for home. Photo: Megan Christensen, Concern Worldwide

The observance of World Water Day this year (March 22), with its spotlight on urban emergencies, comes at a time when many humanitarian aid and relief organizations are contemplating—in some cases, studying in-depth—the growing trend of large emergencies shifting from rural to urban settings.

Increasingly erratic weather patterns, which some link to man-made climate change, are causing droughts and floods that are driving millions to leave the countryside for cities.

In Haiti, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, Concern Worldwide had to tackle most of these issues in highly challenging circumstances, with Port-au-Prince qualifying as a highly impoverished urban setting experiencing a major emergency albeit in extraordinary circumstances. The city was one of the most challenging environments for water and sanitation before the earthquake; the massive disaster only made the situation exponentially more complicated. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hard Cash in Hard Times

Posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011 at 8:51 am

Women in Gokwe, Zimbabwe, show their registration cards at a cash distribution point. Photo: Elena Ruiz Roman, Zimbabwe

By Cormac Staunton, Information Officer, Concern Worldwide

Sophia Chitsatse was 65 when I met her in Nyanga, Zimbabwe, a widow looking after four orphaned grandchildren. Although she was a farmer, she struggled to grow enough food for her family to last from one harvest to another. As a result, she had been receiving food aid rations from the World Food Program (WFP) for several years.

This is the traditional response to a humanitarian crisis, to directly provide people with what they need most. It is hard to argue with the logic; if people are starving, they need food. If people’s belongings have been washed away, they need essential items like soap, cooking utensils, and clean water. Read the rest of this entry »

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Women In Liberia Mobilize For Peace

Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 9:36 am

Louise Yarsiah leads the women of WANEP in song in Liberia. Photo: Jenny Hobbs, Concern Worldwide

By Jenny Hobbs, Education Co-ordinator, Liberia

Few people are aware that a group of women – calling themselves the Peace Women, dressed in colourful lappas (Liberian cloth), bright white t-shirts and white headscarves, were instrumental in bringing peace to Liberia. Their story, which begins with the simple act of sitting along the streets for months under the hot sun or torrential rains of Liberia, led to the exile of alleged warlord Charles Taylor in 2003, now awaiting his verdict in The Hague.

In 1998, women from all tribes and religions in Liberia united in their common goal for an end to violence, and played an essential role in the decommissioning of young rebels to install peace and democracy in a war-torn country. The movement took place under the auspices  of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP). Today the work of these Peace Women continues. Here in Liberia, 75 women gather on a dusty football pitch to hold a 40-day fast and prayer meeting in solidarity for the women and children in neighbouring Côte D’Ivoire, where over 77,700 refugees have fled to Liberia. Read the rest of this entry »

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