Archive for the Country Director Series Category

Scavenging Anthills to Survive: A Dispatch from the Sahel Hunger Crisis

Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 10:57 am

By Carol Morgan, Regional Director, Central Africa Region, Concern Worldwide

Hafiza Moussa is three years old and suffering from malaria. He is receiving treatment from a Concern-supported ward (CRENI) at the regional hospital.

I recently returned from the Sahel region of Africa, where a major humanitarian crisis is now unfolding, affecting an estimated 18.7 million people. In the Tahoua region of Niger, where Concern is responding, I saw children who, completely listless from the effects of malnutrition, could not hold down therapeutic milk in overcrowded feeding centers.

The United Nations now estimates that upwards of one million children are at extreme risk of severe acute malnutrition across this semi-arid belt of land along the Sahara desert. Even in ‘non-crisis’ years, 645,000 children die in the Sahel—35 percent of which are linked to malnutrition. This grim reality will never change unless we address the root causes of cyclical hunger.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

Improving Income Opportunities for Zambian Farmers

Posted on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 at 10:57 am

Rakesh Katal leads then Deputy Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Moses Muteteka to officially launch Concern’s livestock and farming inputs distribution program in Mongu District. Photo: Zambia, Concern Worldwide

Concern Zambia Country Director Rakesh Katal recounts the joys and challenges of working with communities in rural Zambia

Our organization works in the remotest areas of Zambia where the terrain can be rough and reaching program participants means crossing rivers, wetlands and vast swathes of sandy territory.  In some cases, apart from the lower level government structures, Concern is the only development organization addressing the needs of the community.

Doing this is both a challenge and a delight. A challenge because the needs of the people, arising from the high levels of poverty, obviously overwhelm our human and financial capacity; but a delight because we are glad to be at the service of the people who desperately need development to change their way of life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

Offering Choices to Unheard Voices: Hunger in Niger

Posted on Monday, August 30th, 2010 at 8:47 am
Aminatou Nomao (12), had many tough questions for Concern on how we choose the villages that receive seeds and cash for our emergency response program.

Aminatou Nomao (12), had many tough questions for Concern on how we choose the villages that receive seeds and cash for our emergency response program.

Niall Tierney, Country Director, Niger

The rains failed in Niger last year:  for the members of the aid community who live and work here, that meant more than just hot, dry weather. We shared the sickening knowledge that failed rains in 2009 meant that families in Niger would face the deadly threat of extreme hunger in 2010.

Concern Worldwide began tracking the first signs of this massive food crisis in October and has been in emergency mode since then. We knew we had to act early.  We knew that the logistics of delivering traditional food aid in Niger would be costly and difficult. This crisis demanded innovative—and rapid—response. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

Delayed Funding Exacts its Cost on Pakistan

Posted on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 at 10:30 am

A man marooned by flood waters, alongside his livestock, waves towards an Army helicopter for relief handouts in the Rajanpur district of Pakistan's Punjab province.

Dorothy Blane, Country Director, Pakistan, Concern Worldwide

The world is only now waking up to the alarm that the humanitarian community has been sounding for more than three weeks about the scale of the emergency here in Pakistan.

It’s difficult and rather pointless for those of us in-country to spend too much time wondering why the response, especially in terms of funding, has been so slow to kick in. There is just too much work to do on the ground here, and we have no time for hand-wringing. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

The Front Lines can be Behind the Scenes: World Humanitarian Day 2010

Posted on Thursday, August 19th, 2010 at 11:43 am

Anne O’Mahony is Country Director for Concern Worldwide in Kenya.

Anne O’Mahony is Country Director for Concern Worldwide in Kenya.

Anne O’Mahony, Country Director, Kenya, Concern Worldwide

This morning in Nairobi, Kenya, Concern Worldwide marked the second commemoration of  World Humanitarian Day with colleagues from  NGOs, Red Cross Societies, the UN, government representatives from both Kenya and Somalia, and other humanitarian actors.

It was uplifting—and hugely important to recognize the contribution and sacrifices that humanitarian workers make in this troubled world of ours.  Here in Kenya, this day could have gone very differently. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

The Right to Live with Dignity: World Humanitarian Day 2010

Posted on Thursday, August 19th, 2010 at 11:41 am
Concern works with 10,000 displaced families in Masisi Province in eastern DRC. Photo: Michael MacSweeney, Masisi, DRC for Concern Worldwide

Concern works with 10,000 displaced families in Masisi Province in eastern DRC. Photo: Michael MacSweeney, Masisi, DRC for Concern Worldwide

I have been a humanitarian worker for more than 14 years in some very tough environments, including Angola and Zimbabwe. But working as Concern Worldwide’s Country Director in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the past two years has definitely been one of the greatest challenges of my career—and one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

WHAT IS HAITI’S MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE?

Posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

By Elke Leidel

Concern is building transitional shelter for 2,500 people at a new site it designed at Tabarre Issa.

Concern is building transitional shelter for 2,500 people at a new site it designed at Tabarre Issa.

(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—July 12, 2010) It was a hot afternoon on Jan. 12, the day that marked the beginning of the toughest, most agonizing stretch of my professional career.

Fast forward to today, the six-month point after the quake. The UN and an army of aid agencies have provided emergency shelter—in the form of tents and tarpaulins—to 354,573 households, which actually accounts for more than 1.7 million people. Survivors are scattered across 1,100 camps, their shelter being precarious at best now that the hurricane season has begun. The work for the longer haul is now underway.

Along with other NGOs, Concern is entering the medium to long-term phase of the earthquake response: to provide displaced families with durable housing for the coming couple of years, pending the construction of permanent residences. This will absorb a significant portion of the billions of dollars raised and pledged worldwide. The real hard work has now begun—there are plans to construct a total of 125,308 transitional shelters, at least 1200 of which will be built by Concern. And yes, there are lots of obstacles. The government is still in the process of reorganizing itself and not much will change until after the fall elections. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

Recognizing the Power of Human Potential – Malawi

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009 at 3:52 pm

“These crops you see here during this dry season are the results of our club’s dedication and desire to see off poverty once and for all. We are now well equipped, thanks to Concern, to produce enough food – a thing which had eluded this village for many years.

In fact, we have given a ray of hope and confidence to many in this village who didn’t believe that with enough commitment and hard work, the beast called hunger can be defeated. We will not wait for Concern to come again to our rescue. They did their part and now we have a good foundation to tackle hunger.”

—Mr. Enock Mbeta, Treasurer, Mtisautsa Community Irrigation Club, Nkhotakota District, Malawi Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

Drought in Kenya Threatens a Way of Life

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009 at 3:49 pm

The hope is that rain will come. It is now due: if it fails again, it will be devastating. It is no coincidence that the word for rain in the Maasai language is the same as that for God.

Kenya is currently in the grip of a severe drought that has killed crops, crippled the country’s production of food, and caused serious shortages of affordable food in urban areas.  But the pastoralist communities in Kenya’s rural areas are being hit hardest and most severely. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share

World Humanitarian Day 2009 – Chad

Posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Currently, Chad is hosting some 268,000 Sudanese and 74,000 CAR refugees and attacks by armed militias and rebels, inter-ethnic violence and tensions over land access have led to the internal displacement of more than 170,000 Chadians.

Aid agencies are trying to provide assistance to as many people as possible according to key humanitarian principles, such as impartiality, independence and neutrality.

But access to the affected populations can be very difficult and even dangerous for humanitarian workers. Just recently two humanitarian workers were kidnapped in the border town of Adé and so far only one has been released. Last year, the head of an international NGO was shot dead while travelling in eastern Chad. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share