Posted on Monday, July 8th, 2013 at 12:28 pm
By Kieran McConville, Multimedia Producer, Concern Worldwide
Dawlat Mohammad has lived under harsh conditions all his life, but the natural environment of his Afghanistan homeland has become more hostile than ever.
He strides purposefully across the harsh, rocky landscape, a heavy chapan draped over his shoulders despite the 85-degree heat. Every day of Dawlat Mohammad’s 65 years under the Afghan sun is etched into his face, his bright blue eyes twinkling merrily as he greets us in the traditional way: “Assalomu allaikum.”
We are standing in what could easily be described as a moonscape—gravel and boulders strewn in all directions, huge rocky hills in the distance. This has the appearance of a vast, dried-up river bed and, in a way, that is what it is. All across this part of northeastern Afghanistan, huge flood beds dissect the landscape, a product of the mountain rains and melting snows of springtime.
The extreme seasons have always been a challenge to those who live here, but over the past decade that challenge has increased dramatically. “Over there,” says Dawlat, gesturing to the base of a low hill about 200 yards away. “That is where the river used to run—a small stream most of the time. Now the floods are wiping us out.”
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Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 at 11:21 am
By Tom Dobbin, Emergency Program Coordinator, Takhar Province, Afghanistan
A flood defense system in Rustaq
Takhar Province in the far northeast corner of Afghanistan is a remote and unforgiving place. High in the mountains, it has more major earthquakes, landslides, and flash floods than any other part of the country. The landscape is stark and barren and poverty is crippling.
As winter settles in, children scour the hillsides for animal dung and withered thistles to use as fuel to keep warm. In the dead of winter, temperatures can plummet to a mere five degrees Fahrenheit. Heavy snowfall makes it completely impossible to travel in or out of. Last year, which was the worst winter in decades, snow drifts were as high as 50 feet—the height of a six-story building.
When the snow melted in April, it triggered violent flash floods that washed away homes, bridges, and other critical infrastructure. One village, Rustaq, saw nearly 100 feet of river bank engulfed by water, taking with it 60 homes. In Chall District, the floods washed out a bridge that was the only connection to the nearest village for 770 villagers and 150 students who crossed the bridge every day to go to school. Some villages, like Khailan, were told they had to relocate altogether. As part of Concern Worldwide’s emergency response team, I was deployed to Afghanistan as Emergency Program Manager in Takhar to oversee a program to repair the damage that was done because of last year’s floods and brace communities for the upcoming winter and future disasters.
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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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Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
By Mustafa Kamal, Overseas Account Manager, Concern Worldwide
Bangladesh recently celebrated two significant 40th anniversaries. As a Bangladeshi and a member of Concern Worldwide for the past 20 years, the events have a dual-significance. In addition to marking the independence of my country, it also was the anniversary of Concern’s first mission to support vulnerable and under-served Bangladeshi refugees in Calcutta, India following the liberation war. The response in Calcutta was Concern’s second mission as an organization and led to what is now four decades of high-impact quality programming inside Bangladesh.
This month, Concern is recognizing its 40th year in Bangladesh with events in Dhaka and our headquarters in Dublin. While much work remains to be done in Bangladesh, what we have accomplished since that first mission to support Bangladeshi refugees in 1971 is remarkable. In many ways, our work in Bangladesh has shaped Concern’s programming and how we bridge emergency response and development, and I am honored and very proud to have been a part of it, both on-the-ground in Dhaka and now in Dublin, Ireland.
My first interaction with Concern was in 1989. I was a chartered accountant student in Dhaka and had the opportunity to be a part of consultancy project to review Concern’s financial systems. As part of this assignment, I traveled to Saidpur to review the financial systems of Concern’s programs. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2012 at 1:31 pm
By Emily Bradley, Program Support Officer (PSO)
Bakhtwar sits proudly in front of her small shop which she reopened with the support of Concern after the floods washed it away. Jamshoro District, Sindh. Photo: Emily Bradley
Driving through Southern Sindh province in Pakistan on a bright, sunny day in early December 2011, it is difficult to imagine the catastrophic scale of the destruction caused by the floods of 2010. Beyond the bounds of the irrigated sites, the land is now dry and dusty and the heat is immense. As I meet with Concern’s beneficiaries and partner organizations, it is all too clear however, that, although the flood waters have receded, their devastating legacy lingers.
In August and September 2010, villages across Jamshoro district were entirely submerged in water. We all recall the media images of the floods in Pakistan, but it is often difficult to fully comprehend the extent and reality of the devastating impact until you speak with those who were directly affected. Imagine losing everything you ever possessed; imagine fleeing your home with your children to save your lives; imagine watching as the mud walls and thatch roof of your home and business disintegrate in the floodwaters before your eyes.
Now try and imagine all of this as a severely disabled mother of eight. Read the rest of this entry »