Archive for October, 2012

In Afghanistan’s Unforgiving Terrain, Bracing Communities for Natural Disasters

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

By Peter Doyle, Asia Desk Officer, Concern Worldwide

Peter Doyle with Muhammad Niaz

Travelling through Afghanistan’s spectacularly scenic mountainous northern region, it was immediately evident to me how vulnerable this area is to natural disasters.  The steep mountains have been badly deforested and the soil constantly eroded, stripping what should be fertile agriculture land of its nutrients and leaving the communities that call this unforgiving terrain home at constant risk of flooding and landslides.

Last year was particularly tough—a severe drought was followed one of the harshest winters in recent times. This led to avalanches and later in spring, as the snow melted and rains came, severe flooding.  Yet despite all this, people live here, clinging to the edge and at mercy to Mother Nature.

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Protecting Life Where Death is Everyday Conversation

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012 at 9:11 am

By Megan Christensen, Health Officer, Concern Worldwide US


I have been lucky to visit many of the countries where Concern Worldwide works. In my travels, I met many people and witnessed many things, some inspiring and some heartbreaking.

My most recent trip to Sierra Leone was no different.

Concern Health Officer, Megan Christensen holding a newborn child, whose mother took the initiative to seek immediate-care at the health facility after being encouraged to do so by her husband, the community and Concern.

Sierra Leone is a country emerging from ten years of civil war and armed conflict. I saw commitment to work from the ground-up to rebuild. The people are positive and hopeful. The government is active and forward-thinking. I was there last February, and in a year and a half, I have seen progress.

This is partly because of an initiative that the government took in 2010 to provide free health care to women and children. Today, more women and children are accessing health care, and more of them are aware of when and how to access it.

However, there are still major challenges. Some clinics still struggle with having a steady stream of supplies, like antibiotics. We still don’t have all the information we need to understand why people are dying and what they are getting sick from. For example, we know that 60 percent of births are happening in birth facilities, in the presence of a trained birth attendant, but that’s only half the picture. Where is the other 40 percent giving birth?  Who is with them?  Why did they not go to a health facility?

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