Archive for April, 2011

White Gold in southern Chad

Posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 at 8:00 am

Shea butter training gets underway in Goré, southern Chad, where Concern trains women in the processing of Shea butter and production of soap, food stuffs, and cosmetics. Photo: Chad, Concern Worldwide

Francesca Reinhardt, Program Support Officer, Concern Worldwide, Chad

I’m based in a small town called Goz Beida in eastern Chad.  It’s a dusty corner of the Sahel, where the bulk of the traffic comes in the form of slow-moving donkeys and camels. It’s an unforgiving environment, but I’m learning things here that I don’t think I could learn anywhere else.

Chad is a vast landlocked country, covering several eco-zones, and some of the highest rates of poverty on the planet. The challenges are enormous.  Chad has the world’s highest child infant mortality rate, and is in the bottom five countries ranked by the United Nations Human Development Index. Chad has experienced not only natural disasters, but also civil conflict, the internal displacement of populations, refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring Central African Republic (C.A.R.) and Sudan, the Sahel food crisis, drought, flooding, and cholera outbreaks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Battling Africa’s Number One Killer

Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2011 at 2:28 pm
Mukarurangwa Cecile, a community health worker in Marebe, Rwanda visits the home of Valentine, 3, to examine the cause of his fever. Photo: Esther Havens, Rwanda.

By Jennifer Weiss – Health Advisor, Concern Worldwide US

According to estimates from the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly one million children do not reach their fifth birthday because they die from malaria each year.  Ninety percent of these deaths occur in Africa, where malaria remains the number one killer of young children.  An additional 30 million pregnant women and their newborns are also at risk of malaria infection, which may lead to stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, low weight, and neonatal death.

Pregnant women and children die from malaria because they lack access to low-cost, effective solutions to both prevent and treat the disease.  Concern is working to change this through our USAID-funded Child Survival programs in Rwanda, Burundi, and Niger, which provide life-saving malaria prevention and control to a total of 1.2 million women and children. Read the rest of this entry »

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Putting Food First to Avert a Crisis for the Poor

Posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 at 9:39 am

Concern distributed cash via mobile phones to extremely vulnerable communities at high risk of malnutrition in Niger, pre-empting a massive food crisis. Photo: Niger, Concern Worldwide

By Tom Arnold – Concern Worldwide Chief Executive Officer

Last Friday April 15—as part of the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Washington, DC—I was a panelist in a groundbreaking global conversation, the Open Forum. It was a unique opportunity for a small group of experts to engage not only with each other, but with 3,000 participants in a concurrent 24-hour chat, and people from 91 countries who had submitted comments and ideas online before the event. The topic was the food crisis—crippling market volatility whose net effect has been a sustained increase in food prices, wreaking havoc on the world’s poor.

This was no staid academic exercise.  It was an invaluable part of a larger conversation that grows more urgent by the day because each day, more lives hang in the balance. As World Bank President Robert Zoellick starkly put it, “we’re one event away from a very serious crisis.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Protecting the World’s Poorest from the Rising Price of Food

Posted on Monday, April 11th, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Ensuring proper nutrition for pregnant women and for the first two years of life ends the cycle of malnutrition. Photo: Concern Worldwide

By Tom Arnold – Concern Chief Executive Officer

After seven straight months of growth, global food prices are now at their highest levels since records began.

The UN Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket which includes cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar was higher in January than the last previous high in June 2008.  That peak sparked riots across the world, as people who lived on the margin and relied on the market to purchase food were plunged further into poverty.

In 2009, as a result of this, the number of people in the world suffering from hunger topped one billion for the first time in history.

The signs now are ominous for us all with the FAO expecting the price of agricultural commodities to rise further throughout this year. This will put enormous pressure on the world’s poorest who have had to cope relentlessly with the consequences of higher prices for the past two years. The World Bank has estimated that 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since last summer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roadmap for Muslim Philanthropy

Posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011 at 10:34 am

Tom Arnold Concern CEO speaks with water engineer in the immediate aftermath of earthquake in Haiti, ahead of Concern's water distribution. Photo: Haiti, Concern Worldwide

By Tom Arnold – Concern Chief Executive Officer

I recently had the privilege to attend the Fourth World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists in Dubai (March 23-24). The Congress—founded by Tariq Cheema, a Pakistani physician based in Chicago—brings together leading figures in the field of government, diplomacy, academia, finance, and NGOs to discuss pressing concerns related to roles and responsibilities of business and civil society and to build upon its previous meetings held in Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. One of the Conference’s key priorities is innovation in the fight against global hunger.

The theme of the 2011 Conference was “defining the roadmap for Muslim giving into the next decade.” Philanthropy is integral in the Muslim faith, which stipulates alms giving (zakat) of 2.5 percent of income or possessions to the poor and underprivileged.

Today there are an estimated 1.57 billion Muslims constituting 23 percent of the world’s population and contributing substantially in the social sector–developing nonprofits that address human services and social needs and creating charitable foundations that are distributing financial resources at an unprecedented level. Read the rest of this entry »

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Floods in Pakistan Expose Poverty and Malnutrition

Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 8:15 am

Young mother with her child in Sindh Province, where Concern is supporting thousands of Internally Displaced People to rebuild their lives after the devastating flooding of 2010. Photo: Pakistan, Concern Worldwide

By Mubashir Ahmed, Concern Assistant Country Director in Pakistan

Last summer’s massive floods swept through and destroyed lives, houses, crop lands and road infrastructure, causing enormous suffering and damages across an area the size of Italy. The disaster has drawn a significant emergency and recovery response on the part of numerous International NGOs, taking them to often remote areas where any kind of aid had been sparse for many years.
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