LWF Chad – SITREP No.1 March 25th 2013

Country Name: Chad    Date: March 25 2013

Emeregency Name- new influx refugees into Chad     Sitrep Nr 1

Prepared by Jan Schutte- e-mail: rep.tcd@lwfdws.org

 

Situation Overview

A. Central African Republic Refugees

Since Friday March 1 2013 Central African Republic refugees have started crossing the border at SIDO and have been transported by UNHCR to the CAR Refugee camp in Bélom ( formerly Moula and Yaroungou joined into one camp in November 2012 due to repeated flooding ) distanced at 30 km.

The first influx was 63 families or 860 persons.  The total has since increased to 5,624 persons as per March 22 3013. There have been no new arrivals since March 22 but the Coup d’état in Bangui of March 24 may have further consequences- but too early to say.

The refugees have been accommodated in the Bélom camp for now and the government and its partners are looking for suitable sites to host them. A transfer of some 2,500 refugees from amongst the new arrivals to the CAR refugee site of Gondji close to Goré has been considered but the Chadian government has not yet given its go-ahead for that possible transfer.

  1. LWF/DWS Emergency response

Since March 2 the LWF Chad program has been providing hot meals for the new arrivals with financing from UNHCR, distribution of NFI’s provided by UNHCR and identifying the Persons with Special Needs who will be assisted with shelter- also with financing from UNHCR  ( $ 25,000 for the moment ).

In case persons will be transported to the Gondji site LWF has been requested by UNHCR to provide hot meals,  be in charge of protection of the environment, prepare the agricultural campaign and assist refugees with credit for Income Generating Activities.  Those needs are estimated at $ 275,000.

 2.2. Population Data

The Chadian Government agency Commission Nationale d’Accueil, de Reinsertion des Refugiés et des Rapatriés (CNARR) is responsible for the registration of the new arrivals. So far only numbers of families and individuals are registered and there is not as yet segregated data for age and gender.

 2.3 Problem areas and gaps

The main problem is funding for UNHCR and its partners to respond to this crisis. Funds are now taken from the regular 2013 program to address the most urgent needs.  Even for the regular 2013 program UNHCR has only received 30% of the required funding as per March 20 2013.  The UN Humanitarian Coordinator has issued an alert about the funding situation of the Chad CAP 2013 on March 20 as the CAP 2013 only received 9% out of the 500 million $ requested..

The LWF ACT Appeal 2013 is also only funded for 2, 56 % as per March 13 2013 and not given us the means to respond to the crisis with our own funds.  ($ 25,516 out of $ 997,378 requested).

 

 B- Sudanese Refugees

Since February 2 2013 1,797 families or 12,484 Sudanese have fled their country and installed themselves in the area around Tissi. Tissi is 270 kms from Goz Beida and 235 kms from Koukou and in a triangle border area between Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The persons have fled the fighting between different clan over the control of a gold mine in Djabal Amir in Darfour. They are of Arab origins and are accused of the other Sudanese refugees already in camps since 2004 of being responsible for their displacement. Hosting these new arrivals in one of the existing camps is therefore not a good solution. No interventions by the Humanitarian Community took place yet- except assessment visits- the latest now under way since today. The UN and NGOs are waiting on the outcome of this visit to further discuss possible next steps.

Jan Schutte

LWF Chad Country Representative

 

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LWF Mozambique Floods – Situation Report 4 – 5th March 2013

Headlines :

  • Chiquelane camp officially closed on Friday
  • LWF staff back in all communities
  • LWF and its partners in the ACT Forum have finalized the main appeal
  • LWF Coordination, Monitoring & Communications
  • Challenges: availability of funds
Even though there has been little rain over the past two weeks, fields are still flooded and rivers are still over their banks. © LWF/Melany Markham

Even though there has been little rain over the past two weeks, fields are still flooded and rivers are still over their banks. © LWF/Melany Markham

Chiquelane camp officially closed
The government of Mozambique has officially closed the Chiquelane camp where some 70,000 people had temporarily camped and were assisted. This means there will be challenges with returnees to settle back, clean their compounds and salvage whatever was left after the floods.  On the other hand power and water supply has been fully restored in Chokwe town. There is a significant increase in activities in the town: shops, market and other facilities are gradually becoming a beehive of activities.

LWF staff back to all communities
LWF staff who were part of the Chiquelane camp and the rest of the team are all back in the communities that we work with. Assessment reports show that most of the communities where we operate in suffered a lot. However there are some positive sides of the story that the emergency preparedness facilitation that LWF has been doing over time played some role in reducing the impact of the disaster. As rain has ceased over the last two weeks our office in Chokwe is fully operational.  Access to all communities is possible and LWF has delivered 841 jerry cans, 675 blankets, 144 cooking kits, and 70 plastic sheets to 407 Households equivalent to 2035 people in the districts of Chokwe, Mabalane, Guija and Chigubo.

LWF and its partners in the ACT Forum have finalized the main appeal.
The ACT Mozambique forum has finalized the appeal which has been issued on 5th March[1]. After re assessment of the situation the LWF Mozambique amount requested for the response has been reduced to USD675, 000. With about 200,000USD already received from the Church of Sweden, we are looking for $500,000 more to respond on WASH activities, Food security, recovery and livelihood restoration and NFI and Shelter.

LWF Mozambique will, if funds are available, undertake cash transfer activities as part of the $500,000 being requested.

[1] http://www.actalliance.org/resources/appeals/MOZ131_Floods.pdf/view

LWF Coordination, Monitoring & Communications
LWF staff who were living in the temporary camp continued working and attending meetings over the past weeks and have met with officials from the Mozambique Government in the Gaza district and are also informally monitoring the delivery of aid on the ground.

LWF Mozambique is coordinating the information among the ACT members and is briefing Maputo and Gaza staff on the next stages of the response. The Programme Coordinator is providing overall coordination between the field response and the Maputo based staff.

The LWF Regional Communications Coordinator has left for Nairobi and the Regional HUB Team Leader has joined our team.

Challenges – Availability of funds
The need for funding remains high. There is dire need of seeds and mosquito nets in particular. The Government of Mozambique has begun to repair roads into areas in the North of the province which are still cut-off by road, yet full access is unlikely to be restored for a number of weeks.

Prepared by George Mkanza,

LWF Country Representative
5th March 2013

[1] http://www.actalliance.org/resources/appeals/MOZ131_Floods.pdf/view

Posted in Emergencies, Mozambique Floods Feb 2013 | Leave a comment

LWF Mozambique Floods – SITREP 3 – 20th February 2013

  •    Further rain forecast as flood alert remains
  •    People slowly returning to their homes
  •    LWF staff return to project areas
Crops destroyed by floodwaters from the Limpopo River in Mozambique. Tens of thousands of people have had their crops destroyed by the floods. © LWF/Melany Markham

Crops destroyed by flood waters from the Limpopo River in Mozambique. Tens of thousands of people have had their crops destroyed by the floods. © LWF/Melany Markham

Further rain forecast as flood alert remains
A new alert has been issued in the face of a storm system which has formed in the Mozambique Channel, which could bring heavy rains to much of Mozambique and Madagascar in addition to the current flood alert that is still in place, as the end of the rainy season is still two months away.

The Government is trying to permanently relocate thousands of people who fled flooded areas in recent weeks offering people plots of land on higher ground if they agree to move. As Mozambique is home to nine major river systems and prone to seasonal cyclones, it is especially vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. Close to 100 people died in the floods and more than 200,000 have been affected. Cholera has broken out in Cabo Delgado Province in northern Mozambique, with 317 cases and 2 deaths recorded to date.

People slowly returning to their homes
Few men are to be found at the Chiquelane camp during the day as many have already returned to the fields, or are protecting their homes and belongings in the flood zones from bandits. However, according to Government officials, the Chiquelane camp is likely to stay open until mid-March. The Ministry of Agriculture’s preliminary assessment indicates about 191,315 ha have been affected by floods, and 166,278 ha of cultivated land destroyed. The most affected province is Gaza, followed by Inhambane and Maputo. While the floods can be expected to have an impact on food security, it is too early to estimate the extent (Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) & Reliefweb)

LWF staff return to project areas
On Tueday the 12 February, LWF staff began to return to Guija, North Chokwe and Mabalane in the Gaza province. Staff working in the Chigubo area returned on the 14th February via an alternative route as the main road remained closed.
Their first task will be to assess the effect the effect that floods have had on the communities in these areas. This information will be collated by senior staff in Maputo and will form the basis of the full ACT Appeal.

LWF Mozambique also:

  • is procuring mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen equipment (pots, crockery and utensils)
  • is procuring buckets, water purification chemicals and hygiene kits
  • is procuring seeds (beans and maize) to supply to LWF project areas
  • delivered 632 blankets, clothes and 300 jerry cans to the people in the Chiqualane camp
  • is providing information to the ACT forum on the activities of other members

The Government of Mozambique requires all goods to be delivered to a central storage facility from which they organize distribution.

LWF Communication, Coordination & Monitoring
LWF has compiled a joint Situation Report for the ACT members, that was issued on 18 February. Staff continue to attend monitoring meetings daily in Chiquelane and Maputo to monitor the effectiveness of aid and the ongoing situation, raising concerns from the community as they arise. Now that LWF staff are returning to the communities that they were working in before the floods – the same communities  that are flood affected – staff will be directly implementing recovery programs. Living and working in these communities, LWF staff will be able to closely monitor the delivery and effectiveness of activities that are aimed at helping people recover from the disaster.

Challenges – Disaster mitigation critical in short and long-term
The Government of Mozambique is trying to prevent a similar disaster from occurring in the future by reviewing the early warning system and relocating people who live in low-lying areas (Reliefweb). Disaster mitigation is also critical to LWF programs moving forward. Over the next few months, LWF Mozambique staff will work with communities in Gaza to determine the best ways to mitigate the future disasters of this kind as a continuation of the development work that was taking place before the floods but also as part of the recovery phase of the response.

Next SITREP due 25th February 2013

Prepared by George Mkanza, LWF Country Representative

Posted in Emergencies, Mozambique Floods Feb 2013 | Leave a comment

LWF Mozambique – SITREP No. 2 Mozambique Floods 11th February 2013

Headlines :

  • Relief stocks low across the region
  • People still arriving in Chiquelane camp
  • LWF first aid agency to reach Nalazi in the Gaza province
  • LWF Coordination, Monitoring & Communications
  • LWF plans relief and recovery support
  • Challenges – access and operating base

 

Even though there has been little rain over the past two weeks, fields are still flooded and rivers are still over their banks. © LWF/Melany Markham

Even though there has been little rain over the past two weeks, fields are still flooded and rivers are still over their banks. © LWF/Melany Markham

Relief stocks low across the region
This is only the beginning of the peak of the flood and cyclone season, which stretches from January to April. Even though national disaster management agencies have improved their systems throughout the region, if there was to be a significant increase in the number of people affected, greater support from the international humanitarian community would be needed, as government resources are limited and levels of relief stocks low.
Source – United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

People still arriving in Chiquelane camp
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that the total number of temporarily displaced people in the most affected province, Gaza, is around 140,000, which has reduced by almost 20,000 one week ago (OCHA). However, staff from other international NGOs on the ground report that many people are still arriving in the temporary camp that has been established around the town of Chiquelane. LWF will be sending a lorry filled with blankets and other supplies to the camp this week to aid the Government in meeting the needs of these people.

LWF staff visited the main town of Chokwe, Gaza, which is still off-limits, on Friday 8 February and found that running water and power had been restored to the town. As rain has ceased over the last week, clean-up of the LWF office and warehouse in Chokwe began. LWF’s assessment of the floods has been completed and a report will be shared with agencies after the 11 February.

LWF is first humanitarian agency to reach communities in Nalazi, Guija district, Gaza province
The World Food Program provided helicopter transport for two LWF staff to travel to the town of Nalazi in the Guija district on Friday 8 February. LWF was working with 11,000 people in communities around Nalazi before the floods cut them off from the rest of the country. The mission included an air assessment of road, shelter and crop damage and an interview with a local government official who reported that although the population in the area had access to clean water, 40 percent of crops had been destroyed. The lack of road access means that supplies of non-food items such as soap are running low. Mobile networks in many of these areas are still not operating, but landlines are still intact making it possible to contact local officials for information.

LWF Coordination, Monitoring & Communications
LWF staff living in the temporary camp are still working and attending meetings over the past week and have met with officials from the Mozambique Government in the Gaza district and is also informally monitoring the delivery of aid on the ground. Two other staff are providing daily updates on the assessment that was conducted last week.

LWF Mozambique is coordinating the information among the ACT members and are briefing Maputo and Gaza staff on the next stages of the response. The Programme Coordinator is providing overall coordination between the field response and the Maputo based staff.

The LWF Regional Communications Coordinator has provided photographs from the Chiquelane camp and from the rapid assessment to Guija District.

The preliminary ACT Appeal was issued on the 7th February and can be viewed at this link: http://www.actalliance.org/resources/appeals/MOZ131Prel_MozFloods.pdf/view

LWF plans relief and recovery support
LWF Mozambique has:

  • provided 60 baby kits including diapers, clothes and soap and water tanks
  • provided other agencies with photos from the Chiquelane camp and from the rapid assessment
  • contributed to overall coordination efforts with information gathered from their own assessments about road access, crop damage and water sources
  • provided baby kits and jerry cans to people in the Chiquelane camp
  • completed their assessment of the floods and will be distributing it among agencies this week to aid overall coordination

Challenges – Access and Operating Base
The Government of Mozambique has begun to repair roads into areas in the North of the province that are still cut-off by road, yet full access is unlikely to be restored for a number of weeks. LWF staff will be trying to access Mabalane, another community where LWF works, by road. In the meantime, LWF is exploring the option of airlifting seeds into communities that are cut-off by the floods.

LWF still has to establish an operating base in or near Chokwe. As power and water has been restored to the town LWF will be requesting Government permission to occupy their offices this week.

Next SITREP due 18th February 2013

Prepared by George Mkanza, LWF Country Representative

Posted in Emergencies, Mozambique Floods Feb 2013 | Leave a comment

LWF Mozambique – SITREP No. 1 Mozambique Floods

Headlines:

  • Devastating floods displace 169,000 people in Gaza Province
  • LWF Project Areas in Gaza province severely affected
  • LWF distributes items to most vulnerable households
  • Rapid Needs Assessment is almost completed
  • Preliminary ACT Appeal due out 7th February
  • LWF Coordinating at national and district levels
  • LWF plans relief and recovery support
  • Immediate challenges – Access and Information Gaps
Albert Shambale lives with his seven children in a camp for people displaced by floods in Mozambique. © LWF/Melany Markham

Albert Shambale lives with his seven children in a camp for people displaced by floods in Mozambique. © LWF/Melany Markham

Devastating floods displace 169,000 people in Gaza Province
Mozambique is trying to recover from the worst floods in over a decade. Moderate to intense rains in the flood-struck south have caused damage to thousands of households, interrupting road infrastructures and electricity and drainage systems. New floods have temporarily displaced an additional 19,000 people, bringing the total number of temporarily displaced to 169,000 as of 1 February. An estimated 80 people have died in the floods, including cases due to secondary causes such as electrocution.  It is primarily the southern province of Gaza and particularly the Limpopo valley. The town of Chokwe is the worst affected at this stage. 70,000 people living in or close to this town have been forced to flee and are now living in Chiquelane, creating a temporary camp. Other areas of Gaza Province are inaccessible except by helicopter – a major obstacle to both the assessment and delivery of aid.

People queue for a boat that will take them away from a flooded area in Mozambique.© LWF/Melany Markham

People queue for a boat that will take them away from a flooded area in Gaza Province, southern Mozambique.© LWF/Melany Markham

 

(Source: BBC News Africa website 25th Jan 2013)

(Source: BBC News Africa website 25th Jan 2013)

The recent heavy rains have also damaged crops in southern and central Mozambique which could lead to widespread food insecurity over the coming months. Mozambique already has chronically high levels of food insecurity that affects nine million people (39% of the population). Source – ACAPS website: http://geo.acaps.org/

The relief effort is being led by the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) with the support of the National Civil Protection Unit (UNAPROC).  A red alert was issued by the Disaster Management Coordination Council on 22nd January.

LWF Project Areas in Gaza Province severely affected
The floods have affected all of the communities where LWF works in the Gaza province. The districts of Chokwe, Chigubo, Mabalane and Guija are all severely affected and many staff are either living in temporary camps or have been relocated to Maputo. There are over 1600 households in areas that cannot yet be reached. Some of these households are beneficiaries of existing LWF programs which the assessment team will attempt to reach via air over the next week. Information from the other districts is still limited.

The LWF Project office in Gaza has been flooded and staff members and their families are among those who have lost their homes.

The main street in Chokwe close to where the LWF Gaza office is located was devastated by the flood waters  © LWF/Melany Markham

The main street in Chokwe close to where the LWF Gaza office is located was devastated by the flood waters © LWF/Melany Markham

LWF distributes items to most vulnerable households
LWF has already distributed the following items from its ware house in Maputo, to the most vulnerable households:

  • 95 plastic sheets,
  • 25 soap cartons,
  • 3 cartons of baby kits and
  • 30 bales of quilts/blankets

Shelter and food are a priority. Current food stocks will not last for more than a month, so more food stocks will be needed if people do not return to their homes within this timeframe.

Rapid Needs Assessment is almost completed
LWF Mozambique has dispatched an assessment team with support from LWF’s Emergency HUB in Nairobi to conduct a rapid needs assessment in the Chiquelane camp for people displaced by the floods near Chokwe, the town that has been hit the hardest. The Assessment will be completed by the end of this week and full report will be shared  on Friday 7th February. The Government of Mozambique’s relief agency (INGC) is managing and implementing the distribution of aid in the Chiquelane camp and have distributed a list of aid items among aid agencies.

Barnaba Shokole, Regional Emergency Officer (L) and Phineaus, ACT Focal Point talk to a man from one of the areas worst affected by flooding in Gaza province, Mozambique.

Barnaba Shokole, Regional Emergency Officer (L) and Phineaus, ACT Focal Point talk to a man from one of the areas worst affected by flooding in Gaza province, Mozambique. LWF/Melany Markham

LWF’s own assessment estimates that there is currently a need for the following items in the minimum quantities:

  • 10,000 mosquito nets,
  • 1,000 Rolls of plastic sheeting,
  • 10,000 blankets,
  • 3,000 sets of dining/cooking utensils,
  • water purification chemicals,
  • 10,000 plastic water containers,
  • sanitation kits for  families  (soap, tooth brushes, tooth paste etc) ,
  • 3000 hygiene kits (mainly for girls and women).

Most of these items can be bought in Maputo and transported by truck to the affected communities, but this is contingent upon having an operational base in the affected area. The Program Coordinator is travelling to the temporary camp today (6th Feb) to find land and an office from where LWF can work.

A family of 22 people live in this collection of tents below a tree in a camp for people displaced by floods in Mozambique.

A family of 22 people live in this collection of tents below a tree in a camp for people displaced by floods in Mozambique. LWF/Melany Markham

Preliminary ACT Appeal due out 7th February
LWF Mozambique is the current chair of the ACT Forum and so will coordinate efforts by its members including CEDES and CCM An Alert was issued on the 25th January 2013  and a preliminary ACT Appeal is due out 7th February 2013 and a full Appeal by 25th February 2013

LWF Coordinating at national and district levels
LWF has been participating in interagency coordination meetings at district and national level. This will be increased in coming weeks to boost LWF visibility in the forums both at national and field level. The INGC is the main coordinating mechanism. LWF Mozambique as both ACT coordinator and also an INGO is currently preparing its appeal for immediate implementation in communities that are accessible in our program areas.

LWF staff living in the temporary camp are still working and are attending daily coordination meetings. These staff update the assessment team on a daily basis which enables the team to coordinate the LWF response with other agencies on the ground.

 

Crops destroyed by floodwaters from the Limpopo River in Mozambique. Tens of thousands of people have had their crops destroyed by the floods.© LWF/Melany Markham

Crops destroyed by flood waters from the Limpopo River in Mozambique. Tens of thousands of people have had their crops destroyed by the floods.
© LWF/Melany Markham

LWF plans relief and recovery support
LWF Mozambique is:

  • Negotiating land and office space to set up an operational base today 6th February in Chiquelane,
  • is trying to get on a WFP Helicopter to carry out an assessment in the difficult to reach areas,
  • is getting in touch with partners to discuss the diversion of SON funds to the relief response,
  • is informing partners of the status of the appeal and the need for fund raising,
  • is letting partners know when we will send photos and stories
  • and that staff are working hard to deal with the situation despite the immediate challenges,
  • Accessibility issues mean that LWF will try to address impending food shortages and focus on helping people rebuild their lives during the recovery phase.
  • is planning to provide plastic sheeting, blankets, water purification kits, hygiene kits, kitchen utensils, soap, mosquito nets, seeds and farm implements to 70,000 affected persons.
  • In addition, LWF is also planning to distribute cash transfers as soon as the displaced people return home and the market system starts working.
Access is a major problem - affecting © LWF/Melany Markham

Access is a major problem – hampering the assessment and distribution of relief goods to affected communities © LWF/Melany Markham

Immediate challenges – Access and Information gaps
All aid agencies are facing accessibility issues to large parts of the affected areas. In the area close to the Chiquelane camp there is a shortage of accommodation and office space due to the number of government and aid workers already in the area. Most LWF staff based in this area are also living in camps or have relocated to Maputo.

As the floods have destroyed crops, hundreds of thousands of people are threatened with long term food insecurity. This has the potential to affect the country’s entire population with food shortages forcing up food prices. Therefore a major priority, once people return to their homes, is to distribute seeds so that they can plant food in time for the next harvest.

As the water recedes and the Government repairs roads and constructs temporary bridges LWF staff will then be able to access the communities and begin delivering aid. Both the INGC and commercial operators are providing transportation to the affected areas as far as possible which will help people return to their homes once floods waters have receded sufficiently. There are no security or protection concerns at this time.

Information Gaps
There is limited information from both the government INGC and UN systems. Coordination and information sharing is ad hoc, at best. Organizations, such as LWF, who are already on the ground, have the advantage of meeting aid workers from other agencies and Government representatives informally and this is the way much substantive information is gathered.

Next SITREP due 11th February 2013

Prepared by George Mkanza, LWF Mozambique, Country Representative


Posted in Emergencies, Mozambique Floods Feb 2013 | Leave a comment

World Cancer Day 4th February | Spotlight on LWF’s Augusta Victoria Hospital

State-of-the-Art Cancer Care in the Occupied Territories

Amirah from Bethlehem, one of the many young people who has received treatment at AVH’s Cancer Care Center © LWF/DWS Jerusalem/K. Brown

Amirah from Bethlehem, one of the many young people who has received treatment at AVH’s Cancer Care Center © LWF/DWS Jerusalem/K. Brown

World Cancer Day 4th February | Spotlight on LWF’s Augusta Victoria Hospital

Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Cancer Care Center of the LWF-managed Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) is the only radiation oncology facility operating in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, with state-of-the-art equipment such as a USD 4.9 million medical linear accelerator.

Each year, the hospital performs almost 10,000 sessions of radiation oncology and some 9,600 chemotherapy sessions.

AVH, part of the Middle East regional program of the LWF Department for World Service, provides services for Palestinian refugees in particular.

It plays a key role in defending the right of patients and humanitarian staff to access cancer treatment and other vital healthcare in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine.

Read more about the hospital and the people it serves:

http://www.lutheranworld.org/lwf/index.php/wrd2012-middle-east.html Augusta Victoria Offers Health Care and Hospitality

http://www.lutheranworld.org/lwf/index.php/avh-patients-dignity.html Jerusalem Health Institution Protects Patients’ Right to Human Dignity

http://www.lutheranworld.org/lwf/index.php/avh-iaea-okay.html  IAEA Gives LWF’s Augusta Victoria Hospital Green Light

The United Nations has designated 4 February as World Cancer Day to highlight continuing challenges in the struggle against cancer.

(text source – LWF  Communications Office, Geneva & LWF Jerusalem website)

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Myanmar – Committee for World Service Visits Projects, Approves Global Strategy

 

Members of the LWF Committee for World Service and a local staff person observe a fuel-efficient stove made from local materials at Ah Si Ka Lay village, southern Myanmar. © LWF Myanmar/Wyne Sandy Myint

Members of the LWF Committee for World Service and a local staff person observe a fuel-efficient stove made from local materials at Ah Si Ka Lay village, southern Myanmar. © LWF Myanmar/Wyne Sandy Myint

YANGON, Myanmar/GENEVA, 24 January 2013 (LWI) The bi-annual meeting of the Committee for World Service held in Yangon, Myanmar, 14-17 January, was an occasion for members of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) governance body to learn how the LWF works with local communities to promote sustainable livelihoods.

Committee members traveled 93 kilometers by boat through canals and rivers to four villages in the Ayeyarwaddy delta in the south, where the LWF Department for World Service (DWS) supports community members in building capacity to meet basic needs.

At That Htay Gone village, a 45 year old mother shared her experience of being a partner household of LWF Myanmar. “Before I did not have a proper latrine and did not know how important hygiene was. My children and I frequently suffered from diarrhea and other diseases related to poor hygiene.”

In 2011 an LWF-trained village health volunteer explained the importance of proper sanitation and how to build and use a latrine properly, she said. “We built a fly-proof latrine, supported by LWF Myanmar. Since then, our health is better. That means we can work more and earn more. LWF helped me plan for a better future. Now I have chickens and a piglet. I am aware of these changes in my family because I record them on the partner household assessment form.”

The chairpersons of the respective village development committees—including youth, women, farmers’ and manual laborers’ groups—explained how the members actively participate in different activities.

Sharing his impressions after the visits, Mr Peter Schirmer, executive secretary, Australian Lutheran World Service said, “The community seems to be confident. They actively participated in the process of construction of a community hall and bridges by taking and sharing responsibility among the villagers in an organized manner. This was an uplifting sign of the unity within the community.”

Other committee members commended the positive community participation and the significant improvement of the village in just three years through the empowerment process.

Mr Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, DWS global program coordinator expressed appreciation to LWF Myanmar for the inclusion of school-age children in the village projects. “In the children’s club, the youth group members facilitate children to get involved in village development activities such as plastic management and waste control campaign. I believe that this process encourages children’s participation, and teaches them to take responsibility in development activities to improve their lives in the village. In the future, these children will gradually be empowered to take over village development management.”

In a country that is prone to flooding, the World Service program works in 50 villages in four districts. LWF’s intervention began in 2008, following the cyclone Nargis, which killed nearly 140,000 people and destroyed housing, infrastructure and livelihoods. The current focus includes support to communities in initiatives for disaster reduction and management through trained teams, awareness-raising, and prevention and mitigation interventions.

In his official address to the committee, DWS director Rev. Eberhard Hitzler noted that the likelihood of more countries and people being adversely affected by cyclones and other natural disasters remains an additional challenge for World Service’s work in the coming years. He said the global environment and events which affect LWF’s humanitarian response include the negative impact of climate change; increased violent conflicts; the global financial crisis; and the need to pay more attention to the role of religion in humanitarian and development work.

In addition to input from the Myanmar program, the Committee for World Service discussed updates from other country and associate programs, and approved the World Service Global Strategy 2013-2018. The committee is chaired by Rev. Dr A.G. Augustine Jeyakumar (United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India) and includes 18 representatives from LWF member churches and related partner organizations.

This year’s meeting was the first to be held in Myanmar, where the LWF has four member churches. The committee reports to the LWF Council.

(By Wyne Sandy Myint, LWF Myanmar communications officer)

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Emergencies, Governance | Leave a comment