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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pakistan: ‘Worried’ Words from the Frontline

Our colleagues in Pakistan are completely occupied with providing emergency aid to flood survivors. As we do our best to gather support for their efforts, to say that they are focused on the task at hand would be a great understatement. It is a stressful, chaotic situation and they enter into it with great resolve and compassion, but they do need to know that the world community is behind them.

We received this email from a good friend and colleague who is attending to the disaster victims:

Sadly, the level of disaster and destruction is so high that it is impossible to even state in words. Just to share with you that out of 40 districts…20 districts are under water. Some of these have been washed away completely and some partially but the loss is enormous.

The displacement of more than 2.2 million people [in these districts alone]; loss of property, livestock and lives still needs to [be] estimated. People are still being evacuated and there is no shelter, food and water for them. The water level is still rising in Sindh, and on top of it, it's going to be winter in the next two months. Water born diseases, skin allergies and diarrhea are on the rise and they say that 6.6 million children are feared to die. I am a very worried person at the moment. Compared to the enormity of destruction the support is very inadequate for various reasons. The international community has realized the high level of the disaster
and one sees some support or commitments coming on the way but still a lot more is required.

He and others ‘on the ground’ need to focus on saving lives. If you can support them, please do.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The impact of clean water in Cambodia

Last year, volunteer photographer Mackenzie Sheppard documented the experience of one family in rural Cambodia who received a clean water well from HOPE International Development Agency.

His series on the Toek family (shown above) is particularly interesting because it graphically illustrates the impact that clean water can have on household food supply.

In thinking about clean water (and its absence) we often consider freedom from disease to be the greatest benefit - but the health impacts of water are much more significant than even that.

Take a look at the Toek family's harvest in both rainy and dry seasons prior to receiving a well (shown below - rainy season and dry season respectively).

Then compare that to their post-well harvest (shown below).

Five years ago, without a nearby source of protected water, they raised four baskets of vegetables a month.

Now, with a well, they have forty baskets left after feeding themselves. This is produce that they can sell. With the proceeds from their garden, they are able to afford clothing, schooling, medicine, and a whole host of other services that were unavailable to them as chronically poor people.

It's an interesting depiction of the impact that clean water can have on a family-many thanks to Mackenzie for the use of these images.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pakistan Update - Preventing a second wave of deaths in the wake of severe flooding

The flooding that devastated northwestern Pakistan this month has been called the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. It is also the world’s second worst flooding in the past decade. Over 1,600 people have been killed and more than 14 million people are affected. Now, Pakistani authorities are warning that there could be renewed flooding in the province of Sindh in the coming days.

Even as the floodwaters in Kyhber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) finally start to recede, the nightmare is not over. As they continue to wade through the pools of muddy water surrounding their emergency camps, survivors are facing a new and more deadly threat: lack of clean water to drink.

Wells, streams, and springs have been contaminated; water pipes and taps have been damaged and shut off. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan reported today that a second wave of deaths due to water-borne diseases and dehydration is imminent without an immediate response. Respiratory infections and malnutrition will also become bigger problems in the coming weeks. Deaths caused by these illnesses will greatly outnumber the deaths caused by the flood itself.

HOPE International Development Agency is responding to the imminent threat by funding the installation of water pumps in and around emergency camps in Nowshera, which has been among the districts hardest hit by the flooding. The pumps will provide safe water to thousands of people. Medicines and medical supplies to treat water-borne diseases, infections, and dehydration have already arrived in Pakistan and will continue to be replenished over the coming months.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pakistan Update - HOPE International Development Agency emergency relief efforts expand

With 14 million people now affected by massive flooding in Pakistan, the sheer scale of the disaster has eclipsed that of the three recent mega disasters combined - the 2004 tsunami, the Kashmir earthquake, and the Haiti earthquake.

Of the 14 million people affected by the deadly flooding, nearly half are in need of emergency relief assistance for their survival.

HOPE International Development Agency has been working among the poorest families of Pakistan for the past 20 years. Our experience and presence in the country enabled our emergency relief efforts to be mobilized within hours of the unprecedented flooding and destruction.

The deadly swath of raging water, mud, and debris that tore its way through villages and towns is now more than 1,000 kilometers in length. In addition to killing people, engulfing entire villages, and destroying vital infrastructure, the flooding has also left 1.5 million acres of precious agricultural land completely smothered.

HOPE International Development Agency has provided 3 large containers of medical supplies and equipment that are currently being distributed to key areas of emergency operations in five districts throughout the northwest region. Emergency health kits containing surgery equipment, antibiotics, and pain relief medications capable of supporting 10,000 people are also being distributed right now.

We are rapidly expanding our life-saving efforts to include providing flood victims with clean drinking water, personal hygiene kits, emergency food rations, tent shelters, and medical care. We are also deploying mobile health clinics that will provide medical care to survivors in more isolated areas.

Visit and help us save lives in the aftermath of this ongoing and unprecedented disaster in Pakistan.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cambodia: On the Road with Rainbow

Rainbow Choi, HOPE International Development Agency’s UNION Coordinator (and much more) recently arrived in Pursat, Cambodia, where she will welcome 2010’s summer team of volunteers. They are set to build a school that the poorest children in Cambodia’s countryside will be able to attend.

Her observations after traveling to meet some of the families that HOPE International Development Agency works with address the heart of the volunteer experience. There is nothing like being ‘overseas’ to realize one’s relative insignificance and yet total importance to the ‘bigger picture’ of poverty alleviation.

According to Rainbow:

“What I thought was amazing was that this long 2 or 3 km road for travel / dike for creating reservoirs of water for rice farming was first built by HOPE International Development Agency in the 1990s! It naturally eroded a bit, and then got significantly destroyed by some serious flooding in 1996, and had the Cambodian government along with some UN funding for repairs... but to be driving along that road for awhile that seemed to stretch on forever, seeing the water-filled farms on each side (needed for the rice paddies), and be able to get to the farmers far into the countryside... on a road made by HOPE International Development Agency... was pretty darn neat. :)

What I've been thinking most as I've been meandering through HOPE International Development Agency projects - big scale like this road, or big, to an individual family, is that, wow, I'm somehow connected to all this grand, amazing work. I don't take any credit for it... I mean, I was barely alive in the early 90s when the road was built, lol... even now, working with HOPE International Development Agency, it's not like I had anything to do with these Cambodian families' lives changing due to their new clean water filter that I just first read about in the project report 2 days ago. But somehow I'm connected to it now. It would keep rolling on without me, I also realize - I'm not an essential part at all of this picture. But, the neat thing is, that kind of I am. Or, I can be, with what I do with HOPE International Development Agency. Right now, I've just got an official "HOPE" hat on (should I be so privileged?), writing a report which really doesn't change much for the families I met today.

This simple water filter I saw today that cost $50 to build and is actually, really, saving a whole family from typhoid and other waterborne diseases? It's amazing! I had nothing to do with it! BUT- the one that doesn't yet exist that can change the lives of another whole family? I can be a part of that one. And actually so can you - anyone who cares to. You don't need to work for HOPE International Development Agency. You don't even need to come on a UNION trip (though really, you should! ;) ). Development (good development) is so much more than money... but it takes money keeps the wheels spinning. We make a lot of it. We do. A heckuvalot. What makes a life of a difference for a family here is so very small.”