Latest updates http://www.actionaid.ie/feed/all en First ActionAid store opens in Athens http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/04/first-actionaid-store-opens-athens <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/04/first-actionaid-store-opens-athens" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/aa_hellas_team.jpg" alt="AA Hellas team in the first ActionAid shop!" title="AA Hellas team in the first ActionAid shop!" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>The ActionAid e-shop wasn't enough!&nbsp;On Thursday, April 10th at 7pm, the doors opened to the first walk-in ActionAid store in Athens. Opening night was packed with volunteers, celebrities, <a href="http://www.news.gr/psyhagogia/sthn-polh/article/141562/egkainia-toy-protoy-katasthmatos-actionaid.html">media crews</a> and well-wishers from across the Greek capital.</p><p><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/tv_coverage.jpg" alt="File 23165" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="382" /></p><p>The new store, located near the Acropolis, is packed with modern designs and original gifts. Everyone is welcome to stop by and boost ActionAid’s work fighting poverty around the world.&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Φίλοι,υποστηρικτές &amp; εθελοντές βρέθηκαν στα εγκαίνια του 1ου κατάστηματος της <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAidHellas">@ActionAidHellas</a>!<a href="http://t.co/FoyYdOrPHz">http://t.co/FoyYdOrPHz</a> <a href="http://t.co/neRa6zv9tS">pic.twitter.com/neRa6zv9tS</a></p>— ActionAid Hellas (@ActionAidHellas) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAidHellas/statuses/454596575256264704">April 11, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>Shoppers will find favourite products from the ActionAid eshop and much more: a wide range of T-shirts for women, men and children, baby clothes, accessories, cosmetics, books and fantastic food products from Fair Trade, and Greek producers.&nbsp;</p><p>Visitors are encouraged to try edible delicacies before making a purchase from a tasty range of jams, honey, sauces and chocolates.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>"...στηρίζετε με κάθε σας αγορά: καθαρό νερό για ολόκληρα χωριά, σχολεία σε χωριά της Αφρικής..." είπε η Ν. Δραγούμη! <a href="http://t.co/1PU2oHK7RU">pic.twitter.com/1PU2oHK7RU</a></p>— ActionAid Hellas (@ActionAidHellas) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAidHellas/statuses/454599609017307136">April 11, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>In Athens? Please stop by: Opening hours are Tuesday - Thursday - Friday 11:00 a.m.&nbsp;to 8.00 pm, Wednesday 11:00 a.m.&nbsp;to 6.00 pm, Saturdays 10:00 a.m.&nbsp;to 4.00 pm&nbsp;and Monday closed. Location: Veikou 2 near the Acropolis metro. <strong></strong></p><p>Or check out our products online: <a href="http://eshop.actionaid.gr/">eshop.actionaid.gr.</a> (currently shipping to Greece and Cyprus only)</p><p>Watch this space for news of the next ActionAid store opening – in Myanmar!</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/04/first-actionaid-store-opens-athens#comments Greece Europe International Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:13:02 +0000 Rob Safar 523761 at http://www.actionaid.ie Too much rain, Not enough water! http://www.actionaid.ie/shared/too-much-rain-not-enough-water Cambodia Asia Food rights International Tue, 08 Apr 2014 14:29:03 +0000 savann.oeurm 522418 at http://www.actionaid.ie Rwanda Genocide 20 years on: Twitter Q&A http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/04/rwanda-genocide-20-years-twitter-qa <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/04/rwanda-genocide-20-years-twitter-qa" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/rs_114048" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Yesterday (Monday 7th April, 2014) marked the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. Many people across the world deeply understand the effect a genocide can leave in a people's history, and many who don't understand are curious - how can a country move on from such tragedy?</p><p>I was really touched by <a href="http://www.actionaid.org/node/519647">Elisabeth's story</a>, and something she said in <a href="http://www.actionaid.org/rwanda20">this video</a> brought into focus just how incomprehensible her situation was to me. It's so alien, so distant from anything I've experienced... I can't imagine how much strength she must have as a person.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>"They asked me to forgive them, and I did." <a href="http://t.co/mKIaR2qM6m">http://t.co/mKIaR2qM6m</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Rwanda20yrs&amp;src=hash">#Rwanda20yrs</a> Stronger than I could ever be <a href="http://t.co/HWu79tNBcF">pic.twitter.com/HWu79tNBcF</a></p>— rob safar (@robsafar) <a href="https://twitter.com/robsafar/statuses/452070744915066880">April 4, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>That's why it was really interesting for me to be able to help <a href="http://twitter.com/snuwamanya">Sulah</a>, pictured top, field questions about how Rwanda has dealt with the genocide after 20 years.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Sulah is in Kigali, <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Rwanda&amp;src=hash">#Rwanda</a> right now, ready to field your questions to the Rwandan people on the 20th anniversary of the <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23genocide&amp;src=hash">#genocide</a>.</p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453143440407425024">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>Below you can see how the Twitter conversation helped to paint a clearer picture of how community and solidarity play a central role in moving forward.</p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>Q: How are children taught about the genocide?</h2><p>A: The children today are being taught about the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Rwanda. They are taught how Hutus, Tutsis and Twas lived together in all these periods with the first genocide happening in 1959. That’s when many Rwandans labeled as Tutsis were killed, properties destroyed and forced out of the country. Children are taught how bad that was and how such divisions led to the most fatal period in 1994 when over one million Rwandans were killed.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The teachings today are more of trying to let them know that they are more Rwandans than as Hutus, Tutsis or Twas...</p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453147333673648128">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>...They are teachings of unity and reconciliation. <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Rwanda20yrs&amp;src=hash">#Rwanda20yrs</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RwandaRemembers&amp;src=hash">#RwandaRemembers</a></p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453147423863742464">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>Q: Is schooling separate?</h2><p>A: Schooling in Rwanda is not separated on recognition of Hutu, Twa or Tutsi, its all about performance. All Rwandans irrespective of their social differences now have equal opportunities to education. This is a total diversion from the previous government that separated schooling along social groupings of Hutu, Tutsi and Twa.</p><p><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/rs_113717" alt="File 23075" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Children learn in an early childhood care and development centre in Karongi district, Rwanda.</span></div></p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>How accurate was the film Hotel Rwanda?</h2><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid">@ActionAid</a> Was the movie Hotel Rwanda a true representation of what actually happened? if not then we have false heroes.</p>— Joseph Anyinka (@Joe_Snappy) <a href="https://twitter.com/Joe_Snappy/statuses/453143850778099712">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>A: Yes and no. Yes in a sense that it depicts the events of Genocide and what happened at the hotel. People took refuge at the hotel, some died and others survived the killers. Many people took shelter in churches, houses or schools but were still killed. It’s a controversial question because the government doesn't seem to agree with the main character who is believed to have taken a heroic action to save people at the hotel.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>No one knows the truth than the actual survivors at the hotel. <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Rwanda20yrs&amp;src=hash">#Rwanda20yrs</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RwandaRemembers&amp;src=hash">#RwandaRemembers</a></p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453150665196732416">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>Q: How is the genocide remembered in Rwanda - is there a memorial?</h2><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Every year on April 7th genocide is remembered in <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Rwanda&amp;src=hash">#Rwanda</a>...</p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453152674666778624">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>There is one week of mourning but for 100 days people continue to mourn, rebury the dead or give them decent burials. The week of mourning is characterized by testimonies from survivors &amp; giving decent burials to those whose bodies can still be recovered. There are night vigils in different families or at different administrative levels. People also visit the memorial sites to give respect to their fallen ones.</p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>Q: What happens on the anniversary day?</h2><p>A: Throughout the country its mourning and the mood is somber. It’s a day of reflection of what happened and also looking forward from where the country has come from to where it needs to go. There are always testimonies from the survivors at official gatherings at all administrative levels/structures of government.</p><p><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/rs_113780" alt="File 23076" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">A genocide memorial site</span></div></p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>Have the perpetrators been brought to justice?</h2><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Q from <a href="https://twitter.com/Babalynne">@babalynne</a>: Do Rwandan people feel that the majority of the perpetrators have been brought to justice yet? A: ...</p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453158810715435008">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>A: Certainly not all perpetrators have been brought to justice. Some are still at large like the chief financier of the Genocide Felecia Kabuga, the former first lady Agath Habyarimana. There is also a general feeling of appreciation that at least genocide is treated as a crime and many people who committed genocide have been tried and some are serving their sentences in prisons.</p><p>The story of reconciliation in Rwanda encompasses the whole country and is based on traditional justice systems thro which most perpetrators have been tried. These are rooted within traditional social structures and people understand them: those tried under such traditional justice had to admit to their crimes and give restitution as demanded by local elders. We have to remember that the courts had to deal with tens of thousands of accused men and women and only the ringleaders / most prolific killers were dealt with by the justice system and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. It is fair to say that the vast majority of Rwandans accept this was probably the best way to deal with what happened because so many were implicated in the killings and the country needed to recover as quickly as possible.</p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>Q: How will Rwandans prevent genocide ever happening again?</h2><p>A: By putting aside their social differences as Hutu, Tutsi or Twa but as more Rwandans. The leadership should ensure that all Rwandans are equal and one and justice should be for all. Also the government should ensure the end of poverty or hunger and must provide basic needs for all Rwandans.</p><p><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/rs_133602" alt="File 23078" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="369" /></p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>What can be learned from the genocide?</h2><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Q: What lessons can other countries with ethnic tensions learn from Rwanda? A: That genocide is the worst form of injustice to humanity...</p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453151208984027136">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>...People are killed, their property destroyed, women and girls raped and children killed in a most brutal way.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>... There is no worse injustice than genocide... <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Rwanda20yrs&amp;src=hash">#Rwanda20yrs</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RwandaRemembers&amp;src=hash">#RwandaRemembers</a></p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453151404321173505">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>People must live as one irrespective of their differences or ethnic divides as all are faced with one problem of poverty and injustice.</p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>Do social divisions continue today?</h2><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Q: How divided are Hutuis and Tutsis today? A: Rwandans do not now differentiate between Tutsi and Hutu as they are no longer recognized...</p>— ActionAid (@ActionAid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid/statuses/453140983186989056">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>Rwandans now try to live as one. The national IDs don't recognize the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa groupings. Our nationality is Rwandan. Rwandans don’t recognize Tutsi, Twa or Hutu as ethnic or tribal groups but socio-economic groups &amp; have a lot in common as one nationality.</p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>Q: How represented are Hutus in the current government?</h2><p>A: Since Hutu, Tutsi and Twa are not recognized as ethnic groups, there is no official measurement for their representation in government. However, there are many of those one would say are Hutus or Tutsis in the current government. Their appointments into the government are not dependent of their Hutu, Tutsi or Twa, but probably their loyalty to the President, ruling party or political consensus recognition. The current constitution has that the Prime minister, Speaker of the lower and upper (senate) chambers of parliament must not come from the same party or even that of the ruling party or President.</p><h2>&nbsp;</h2><h2>What can we do to support the Rwandan people?</h2><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/ActionAid">@ActionAid</a> Q. What can we do now to help the ongoing process of education, regeneration and development in Rwanda?</p>— Jason Brautigam (@DizzyJB) <a href="https://twitter.com/DizzyJB/statuses/453155659035717632">April 7, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>A: Increased funding to pre-primary and primary education, increased support to other sectors of education via teacher training and support in provision of infrastructure like classrooms and materials. There is a need for more financial support in women smallholder farmers to increase their production and get out of hunger. This can propel development in Rwanda, what is needed is increased advocacy by all friends of Rwanda in the international community and governments to focus their support towards ending poverty in Rwanda through supporting children and young people.</p><p><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/rs_132056" alt="File 23079" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="370" /></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/04/rwanda-genocide-20-years-twitter-qa#comments Africa Rwanda Emergencies & Conflict International Tue, 08 Apr 2014 09:47:21 +0000 Rob Safar 521911 at http://www.actionaid.ie Never Again: Genocide is the worst injustice to humanity http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/04/never-again-genocide-worst-injustice-humanity <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/04/never-again-genocide-worst-injustice-humanity" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/rs_132094" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>The day in time to remember the past. the day when the dark cloud hit the nation’s skies and the cries of our beloved innocent children, women, men engulfed the nation.</p><p>Monday, 7 April 2014 is the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.&nbsp; It is also the official UN day of remembrance for the victims of the genocide.</p><p>In 1994, in the space of 100 days, up to one million people categorised as Tutsis – as well as moderate Hutus who rejected the genocidal&nbsp; ideology around exterminating any Rwandan perceived as being from a different group – were killed by Hutu militias in a calculated act, fuelled and perpetrated by Hutu extremists in the then ruling government.&nbsp;</p><p>Up to 20 per cent of the population were killed in what came to be known as the Rwanda genocide against Tutsis.&nbsp; It was one of Africa’s defining moments, and arguably one of the greatest crimes against humanity of the late 20th century, causing a shockwave across the world that still echoes today.</p><p>During the genocide events and in their aftermath, the United Nations (UN) and countries including the United States, Great Britain and Belgium were criticized for their inaction, including failure to strengthen the force and mandate of the <a title="United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Assistance_Mission_for_Rwanda">United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda</a> (UNAMIR) peacekeepers. Observers criticized the government of France for actively supporting the genocidal regime.</p><p>The genocide had a lasting and profound impact on Rwanda and its neighboring countries. The pervasive use of <a title="Rape during the Rwandan Genocide" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_during_the_Rwandan_Genocide">war rape</a> caused a spike in HIV infection, including babies born of rape to newly infected mothers; many households were headed by orphaned children or widows. The decimation of infrastructure and a severe depopulation of the country crippled the economy, challenging the nascent government to achieve rapid economic growth and stabilization.</p><p>20 years after the Genocide, Rwanda is trying to shake off its image associated with the 1994 genocide against Tutsis and the government argues the country is now stable.</p><p>Annual economic growth has exceeded five percent in the last 20 years, driven by coffee and tea exports and expanding tourism. Yet, despite positive movement, poverty is still an issue and Rwanda is still dependent on aid. The majority of the population are subsistence smallholder farmers and of these at least 80 per cent are women who survive by farming on a small piece of land for food to feed themselves.</p><h3><strong>What is the mood like?</strong></h3><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The mood can be described as that of calculated silence, as the national flag is half-mast across the country and all official activities for the next one week will be half day. It’s the week of mourning for all those families who lost their loved ones. The mood is that of remembering anchored under the theme: <strong>‘’Remember- Unite- Renew’’</strong>.</p><p>People are naturally sombre as they look back and this is to be expected. Rwanda was totally scarred by the atrocity with few families left unscathed: Rwandans have come through very difficult and challenging times. Yet overwhelmingly, the mood looking forward is positive.&nbsp; There is increasing optimism amongst Rwandan people that Rwanda is turning a corner. Young people in particular want to see they are part of a sustained, united Rwanda and one that does not recognise the previous societal differences. As the world pauses to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide of the Tutsis, it is also important not to forget the appalling atrocities committed 20 years ago, it is equally important for the Rwandan government and its development partners to look to the future by investing in its children and young people. ‘’Remember the past, Invest in Young People and Children for a better Rwanda.</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/04/never-again-genocide-worst-injustice-humanity#comments Africa Rwanda Emergencies & Conflict International Mon, 07 Apr 2014 10:16:16 +0000 sulah.nuwamanya 521193 at http://www.actionaid.ie A Fellow’s Diary: “Ethiopia was my first time abroad…” http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/03/fellows-diary-ethiopia-was-my-first-time-abroad <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/03/fellows-diary-ethiopia-was-my-first-time-abroad" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/img_0246.jpg" alt="Ethiopia workshop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Written by Khin Saw Win &amp; Aung Min Naing</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Edited by Theresa Nguyen</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Hi! My name is Khin Saw Win and I'm a Myanmar Fellow from Myaing Township in the Dry Zone. I attended the 29</span>th<span>&nbsp;annual meeting of Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action as one of the panellists discussing </span><em>Women Leadership in Emergency Response</em><span>s.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Hosted by African Humanitarian Action in Ethiopia for two days in March 2014, this was my first trip travelling outside of Myanmar. I couldn’t sleep well on the plane because I have never been abroad before. I worried about the food after I heard it’s very different from what I’m used to. And I was concerned about how I was going to communicate with people who all speak different languages. I expected that there would be many other youths participating in the workshop whom I would really like to converse with.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>To my astonishment, I was met with beautiful landscapes as soon as we landed. At the airport I also ran into a Myanmar woman who had come for a different workshop. The food at the hotel was expensive but the buildings are nice. I thought Ethiopia would be very poor and miserable as I had imagined it to be, but it didn’t seem that way with their big airport and the clean and nice roads too.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/ksw_long_shot.jpg" alt="File 22804" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="403" /><span class="ibimage-caption">There were so many new impressions when I first arrived to Ethiopia.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>When I arrived at the workshop, only a few among the 300 participants were around my age. At least, all the topics discussed were familiar to me. All participants seemed very serious as they discussed and they were politely letting each other speak and discuss during group discussions.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>When I look back at the Fellows’ activities in Myanmar, everything is completely related to the issues we were discussing here, and to my own satisfaction, all the discussions and topics raised were exactly what we Fellows have been doing and experienced already. It made me feel that we Fellows know better when it comes to community&nbsp;</span><span>engagement. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_0255.jpg" alt="File 22805" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">My fellow group panellists from Kenya and Pakistan.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In my group of panellists, there were youths from Pakistan and Kenya. Like me, they shared experiences on emergency response and development issues. I was a little bit nervous about my presentation, but eventually I told myself that this was just a different location, the topic and the issues are the same as those I have shared and discussed so many times before in Myanmar.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/ksw_presents.jpg" alt="File 22806" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="318" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Here I'm sharing my experiences from working with communities.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>For my presentation on <em>Women’s Experiences of Leading Emergency Responses at Community Level</em> I prepared 15 photos to show how the space for women leadership was created during emergency response – all through steps of assessment, planning, decision making and implementation. The formation of a women committee, women self-help groups and advisory mother groups of a water reservoir construction along with men’s construction committee all play a crucial role for women’s leadership in disaster risk management and first aid task forces.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Disaster response activities create the opportunity for women leadership, and women must be represented rather than just participating. Letting the affected community audit the activities of the committees has also proven to be a strong tool to empower affected communities. This reduces the tension and confusion between everyone and the accountability mechanism appears clearer while it is being enforced.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_0332.jpg" alt="File 22807" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">ActionAid regional manager Aung Min Naing travelled with me to translate between Myanmar and English.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The difference between women and men leading emergency response activities is clearly reflected in that men usually consider the personal needs first, whereas women always prioritise and consider the various needs of children, the elderly and household needs.&nbsp; My response made the men in the conference room smile and the women applauded supportingly.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Many people came up to me asking about the fellowship programme in Myanmar. Some even asked what a Fellow is, and I felt irritated about not being able to speak English so that I could explain to them in my own words. Instead I relied on my brother from ActionAid Myanmar, Aung Min Naing, to translate and explain.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>I was actually very proud of explaining to people what Thanatkha is. This paste that I wear on my face is a </span><span>beautifying yellowish paste that we get from the bark of a very unique tree; Lemonier Accidecima which only grows in the dry zone of Myanmar. Traditionally, all Myanmar women rub it on every morning after washing their faces, or at any time of the day after they have showered.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/ksw_in_group.jpg" alt="File 22808" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="344" /><span class="ibimage-caption">My first time at an international workshop.</span></div></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>On the last day, there was a cultural night with Ethiopian dancers who performed with such amazing energy. They looked very exhausted but they kept smiling throughout.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_0490.jpg" alt="File 22809" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Aung Min Naing joins the amazing Ethiopian dancers.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The next morning on the way to the airport, I thought about the taxi fares in Ethiopia. I had found out that it's about five to 10 times more costly than in Myanmar. I couldn’t stop wonder why a taxi could be so expensive when Ethiopians are so poor, then I slowly realised that actually, the situation in Myanmar is very similar to Ethiopia. The enormous difference of wealth between rich and poor has been caused by decades of power imbalance, a small of group of elitists and illiteracy issues.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The message I would like to pass on to all my brother and sister Fellows is to learn how to speak English better. We, as Fellows, need to be more professional and learn about the cultures of the world too, through the media that are available. We should also try to hold w</span><span>orkshops that are as organised, well prepared and neat and tidy as the workshop I went to in Ethiopia. And last but not least, I</span><span> hope that all of us Fellows will be able to share more with the world so that people can learn about what we are doing for a better society, and how we are creating change in Myanmar.</span>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_0509.jpg" alt="File 22810" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">My time in Ethiopia was an unforgettable experience.</span></div></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/03/fellows-diary-ethiopia-was-my-first-time-abroad#comments News Myanmar Asia Emergencies & Conflict Womens Rights Youth International Sun, 23 Mar 2014 07:14:06 +0000 Theresa.Nguyen 517424 at http://www.actionaid.ie Spreading the Tax Power message in Zambia! http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/03/spreading-tax-power-message-zambia <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/03/spreading-tax-power-message-zambia" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/img_20140316_102921.jpg" alt="Shaka Lovelace visits ActionAid Zambia" title="Shaka Lovelace visits ActionAid Zambia" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>This week was a special one here at ActionAid Zambia, as we welcomed Danish reggae star Shaka Loveless who was able to spend a few days with us learning about ActionAid’s work on the Tax Power campaign in Zambia.</p><p>Shaka – who is a part of the Danish urban hip hop and reggae music movement and has just released his second album - is ActionAid’s ambassador for the Tax Power campaign in Denmark and so was very keen to see ActionAid’s work on tax issues for himself!</p><p>After collecting a slightly jet lagged Shaka and ActionAid Denmark team from their hotel, we began with a trip to the Mopani Copper Mine, located approximately five hours’ drive north of the capital city Lusaka.&nbsp; Mopani Copper Mines plc is Zambian registered but is actually owned by several companies, with Glencore International owning a 73 per cent share.&nbsp;</p><p>Mopani hit the headlines in 2011 when a number of organisations – including ActionAid - <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/apr/17/glencore-denies-copper-tax-allegations">analysed a leaked review of its accounts</a> and estimated that the company’s practices potentially cost the Zambian Government up to £76m a year in lost corporation tax, significantly more than the £59m which the UK Government gave to Zambia in aid.</p><p>The team visited Kankoyo Township which is located right next to Mopani Copper Mine and spoke to some community members – who also provided us with a tour of the area - about the issues they have been experiencing as a result of living next to the mine.&nbsp; These included sulphur dioxide emissions affecting their health and cracks appearing in their houses due to the underground blasting.&nbsp; The community members believe that if companies like Mopani paid their fair share of tax, then the Government would be better placed to support them by relocating them to a different area away from the mine.</p><p>During the trip we visited at least three houses which had fully or partly crumbled to the ground during the last few weeks due to the underground blasting, with one community member and his family being forced to live in a tent and endure extremely hot temperatures.&nbsp; Shaka really enjoyed meeting community members but also felt outraged by what he heard and promised that he would share their stories on his return to Denmark.</p><p>The next day we travelled back to Lusaka, where we arrived in good time for Shaka to spend the afternoon and evening with some members of Activista Zambia – our youth network - at UNZA (University of Zambia) to learn about the activities they have been implementing as part of their involvement in the Tax Power campaign, as well as the challenges they face as part of campaigning in Zambia.&nbsp; Shaka’s visit was well timed as a number of our Activistas had been <a href="http://zambiareports.com/2014/03/12/zambian-voice-condemns-arrest-42-protesting-constitution/">detained by police in Lusaka on Youth Day</a> the previous week for wearing t-shirts calling for a national referendum and a new constitution, so they had some interesting stories to share!</p><p><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/radio_show.jpg" alt="File 22754" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="312" />We then headed to UNZA Radio, where Shaka participated in a lively interview with the presenters, where he was able to share his thoughts on his visit to Mopani Copper Mine and ActionAid’s work on tax issues in Zambia, as well as play some of his music.&nbsp; The lyrics were all in Danish but he was helpfully able to provide the presenters and listeners with a brief summary of what the songs were about and everyone who was squashed into the recording booth seemed to enjoy them!</p><p>The final part of the trip involved a visit to the Zambia Sugar plantation in Mazabuka.&nbsp; Zambia Sugar was in the news last year, when <a href="http://www.actionaid.org/what-we-do/tax-campaign/zambia-sugar-pays-virtually-no-tax">ActionAid revealed in its report <em>Sweet Nothings</em></a> that the company exploited legal loopholes to siphon over US$83.7 million (US$13 million a year) – a third of pre-tax profits – out of Zambia into tax havens including Ireland, Mauritius and the Netherlands.&nbsp; In addition, the report revealed that Zambian public services have lost an estimated US$27 million as a result of the company’s tax avoidance schemes and special tax breaks.</p><p>In addition to visiting the huge plantation, we were also able to visit a small clinic just outside the plantation area and speak to two health workers. They told Shaka that if the Government was able to generate more money through tax revenue and spend it on public services like health provision, then they would be able to expand and improve the infrastructure at the clinic, allowing them to better meet the needs of the local community. <img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/zambia_sugar.jpg" alt="File 22755" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="312" /></p><p>On our return to Lusaka there was just enough time for a final meeting with ActionAid Zambia Country Director Pamela Chisanga and other members of staff, where Shaka was able to share information about his experience in Zambia, particularly the people he met and stories he had heard.&nbsp; He was also able to explain to the group what he will be doing on his return to Denmark to spread the Tax Power message with youth there, including appearing in a film, giving some media interviews and helping to promote <a href="http://www.ms.dk/tourdefuture">Tour De Future</a>, which will take place during April and May this year.</p><p>Good luck Shaka - it was great having you in Zambia!&nbsp; Come back and see us soon!</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/03/spreading-tax-power-message-zambia#comments Africa Zambia #TaxPower Tax Governance International Wed, 19 Mar 2014 14:35:24 +0000 jennifer.harrison 516542 at http://www.actionaid.ie Myanmar journalists: Hungry for knowledge http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/03/myanmar-journalists-hungry-knowledge <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/03/myanmar-journalists-hungry-knowledge" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/img_6694.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p><strong>Written by Joe Schatz,</strong><em>&nbsp;facilitator of ActionAid's workshop for Myanmar journalists</em></p><p><strong>Edited by Theresa Nguyen</strong></p><p><em></em></p><p>A decade reporting on the U.S. federal budget in Washington, DC taught me many things, but one above all: sifting through complicated budget numbers, and showing readers why they should care, can be a thankless task for a journalist.</p><p>But it’s incredibly more difficult here in Myanmar. Despite a host of reforms since the country began its transition from military rule in 2011, the government is still working out transparent budget processes.</p><p>It’s only been in the last two years that the government has even released basic budget documents, which show that health and education spending is yet to be prioritised. Even more than in other countries, connecting the dots between dry budget documents and the way government spending affects people throughout this fast-changing Southeast Asian country takes skill, creativity and perseverance.</p><p>Those are the skills that ActionAid tried to impart to nearly 25 Myanmar journalists in early March in a three-day workshop focused on reporting on public sector financing. The program sought to start filling the gap in budget reporting knowledge among Myanmar reporters, a huge need as Myanmar begins to overhaul its economy and its budget process and structure, following decades of military rule.</p><p><div class="ibimage-with-caption ibimage_left" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_6626_0.jpg" alt="File 22640" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">ActionAid hosts workshop on 'reporting on public sector financing' for 25 Myanmar journalists.</span></div></p><p>Participants learned how to simplify complicated economic jargon from Dr. Zaw Pe Win. They discussed the challenges of Myanmar’s fiscal decentralization process with Hamish Nixon, a consultant with the Myanmar Development Resource Institute. And they talked about the politics of state and regional budgets with Dr. Nyo Nyo Thinn, an outspoken member of the Yangon Region Parliament.</p><p>Throughout the workshop, we discussed how to apply these concepts to their jobs as reporters, analyzing budget charts, discussing source development and eventually formulating story ideas for future reporting.</p><p><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_6680.jpg" alt="File 22643" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Journalists discussing in small-group exercise.</span></div></p><p>There is a steep learning curve, to be sure. When the government lifted a ban on private daily newspapers last year, a flood of newspapers hit the market, and many of their reporters are young and inexperienced, given the lack of formal journalism training in Myanmar – and the deeper problems in educational system.</p><p>But I learned once again that what Myanmar reporters may lack in knowledge about high-level budgeting, they make up for in a ground-level understanding of fiscal matters, and how it affects families and communities. And I was struck by the hunger for knowledge, and for reporting and writing tips.</p><p>They proposed creative and original, forward-thinking stories – like exploring why the less-developed countries in southeast Asia spend less on health and education than the wealthier countries, investigating the collection of state and regional tax revenues and exploring the lack of budget capacity among members of parliament.</p><p><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_6736.jpg" alt="File 22644" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Workshop participants all shared ideas and experiences on colourful posters.</span></div></p><p>Budget training isn’t always exciting, but these reporters had no end of questions, their curiosity ranging from the way public sector financing works in the United States to the differences between Thailand’s budget and Myanmar’s.</p><p>Nobody became an expert overnight. But the hope is that these reporters now have a better understanding of what they know, and what they don’t know – and whom they should call to figure out what the story is. And they can take their improved understanding of budget matters and apply it in the newsroom.</p><p>Because in Myanmar, there are many stories waiting to be told.</p><blockquote><p>Now, with this training we understand more about these numbers, said one of the reporters in the workshop.</p></blockquote> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/03/myanmar-journalists-hungry-knowledge#comments News Myanmar Asia Journalists workshop Education Youth International Thu, 13 Mar 2014 07:44:00 +0000 Theresa.Nguyen 515294 at http://www.actionaid.ie Report it when you experience or face violence and help reduce Violence against women and girls in public spaces! http://www.actionaid.ie/shared/report-it-when-you-experience-or-face-violence-and-help-reduce-violence-against-women-and Cambodia Asia Safe Cities Womens Rights International Fri, 07 Mar 2014 14:12:47 +0000 savann.oeurm 513261 at http://www.actionaid.ie Voices of empowerment: Lights… Camera... Debate! http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/03/voices-empowerment-lights-camera-debate <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/03/voices-empowerment-lights-camera-debate" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/_dsc0049.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>On the path of empowerment it may often seem tricky to identify change and tangible results that support the direction of development that we believe in. But under the bright studio lights of last Saturday’s DVB Debate emerged a star through the passionate voice of Nan Yu Htay, a 27 year old Fellow from Kyit Tee Village of Myaing Township in Myanmar’s Dry Zone.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.se/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/_dsc0234.jpg" alt="File 22480" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="369" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Fellow Nan Yu Htay from Kyit Tee Village, Myaing Township, Dry Zone area.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Along with six other Fellows representing Kachin, Kayin, Meikhtila, Pathein and different areas of the Dry Zone, Yu Htay initially appeared overwhelmed and nervous when she walked out of ‘hair and make-up’ to take seat as one of the four panelists in Democratic Voice of Burma’s weekly TV-debate. The camera lights quickly switched on and the moderators looked comfortably ready to fire up a heated debate that included the presence of Miss Myanmar 2013, representing the voice of urban youth.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption ibimage_left" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.se/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/_dsc0129.jpg" alt="File 22481" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="369" /><span class="ibimage-caption">DVB Debate studio with the panelists in between the audience.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption ibimage_right" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.se/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/_dsc0082.jpg" alt="File 22482" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="369" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Miss Myanmar 2013 also participated as a panelist.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>While the other fellows spread themselves in the audience, Yu Htay looked her part; the young, rural woman who had never even heard of DVB and who represented communities that can barely find radio signals, not to mention television channels.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">But as soon as the first question was put out for open debate the stereotype of a young rural girl completely disappeared and instead, the voice of a strong, experienced Fellow stunned the entire studio when she offered her views on the overall debate question&nbsp;<em>“What does Burma’s Youth Want?”</em></p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In the changing context of Myanmar we value the cult</span><span>ure of our country, including the limitations of our culture, but if I could change one thing I would change our educational system because that’s where our thoughts and knowledge are formed,&nbsp;</span>said Nan Yu Htay.</p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.se/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/_dsc0201.jpg" alt="File 22483" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="369" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Fellow Nan Yu Htay speaks from rural experience.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal">From the audience, which was frequently invited to comment on the panel discussion, 25 year old Fellow Waw Lay said about the situation of educated youth in the most northern state of Myanmar:</p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal">In our area of Kachin state young people graduate with fine degrees, but a lack of English language skills limits the usage of our education. This has resulted in an important need for young people to be able to apply their degrees so that youths aren’t forced to choose livelihoods that destroy the environment as for example forestry in particular.</p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.se/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/_dsc0154.jpg" alt="File 22484" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="369" /><span class="ibimage-caption">The audience participates in the debate.</span></div></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The debate was filmed for&nbsp;</span>90 minutes, then edited into a 30-minute programme that aired on Sunday 2 March at 7.30pm. For what was said and what was observed the debate might as well have aired in full without any edit, because the voices of both urban and rural youth presented such worthy views that the restriction of time was the only obstacle for solid bridges to be built. Echoing against the walls of the studio long after the bright lights had been turned off is the voice of the rural girl who backed up her views by finally saying:</p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal">Rural youth don’t get the same opportunities as urban youth - there are even educational gaps between urban areas, so the inequality between rural and urban is much greater. If urban people are truly committed to development work they need to go to rural areas, said Nan Yu Htay.</p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><div class="ibimage-with-caption null" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://www.actionaid.se/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/_dsc0273.jpg" alt="File 22485" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="369" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Group photo of Fellows with ActionAid staff and DVB Debate moderator.</span></div></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/03/voices-empowerment-lights-camera-debate#comments News Myanmar Asia panel debate television Youth International Wed, 05 Mar 2014 16:27:50 +0000 Theresa.Nguyen 511931 at http://www.actionaid.ie How an entire community benefits from child sponsorship http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/02/how-entire-community-benefits-child-sponsorship <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/02/how-entire-community-benefits-child-sponsorship" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.ie/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/dsc00085.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Last week I had the pleasure of visiting our Cambodia Country Programme. I arrived at Phnom Penh airport having not visited the city for nearly 20 years. I was immediately struck by the huge changes. Cars and SUVs have to a large extent replaced the bicycles and cyclos on the road into the city from the airport - exclusive hotels and apartment buildings are being constructed everywhere.</p><p>I had a very informative and interesting lunch with the Country Director, Caroline, and her SMT. We discussed their very positive approach to programme led funding and the need for more strategic communications to profile their good work. I was able to brief them on some of the major developments taking place at international level.</p><p>I then set off with Caroline and Kimtheng, Partnership Manager, for our field visit. We travelled to the town of Kampong Thom where we met three key groups at a very enjoyable and informative dinner. HOM (hilariously translated as Help Old Age and Miserable People Organisation) is the key ActionAid partner in this Local Rights Programme (LRP). Headed up by two great old guys called Korng Saom and Ol Sameach, HOM is working with local fishing communities, implementing strong HRBA programming and enabling child sponsorship in the LRP. They work closely with two other organisations who I also got to meet at the dinner: FACT (Fishery Action Coalition Team) which brings together local fisherfolk to advocate with and for them. And CCF (The Coalition of Cambodia Fisheries), which is an umbrella organisation representing fisher communities at grassroots level and links up to the national advocacy level.</p><p>In a really interesting example of how a programme led funding planning approach can link the local and national approaches to our work, ActionAid Cambodia enables HOM to make a small proportion of its Child Sponsorship income available to FACT and CCA. What this means is that ActionAid is able to make a real difference in the lives of the communities in this region - both through our traditional community-based development work and through effective advocacy at regional and national level.</p><p>We spent the night in a local hotel and set off early the next morning to visit a community in Kampong Kor commune in the Kampong Svay district of Kampong Thom province. The settlement we visited is temporary. Located on the banks of the lake area, it enables the community to have access to the livelihood offered through fishing during the dry season. The community stays here for several months and life is very basic: simple tarpaulin shelters, no sanitation facilities and no electricity.</p><p><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_1198.jpg" alt="File 22285" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="416" /></p><p>We had a really informative discussion with community representatives. They described the harsh deforestation that has taken place in the area since 2007 and the impact that this is having on local biodiversity. They also told us about how ActionAid partners had helped them prevent private companies from gaining access to their fish stocks, but also noted that informal illegal fishing was still threatening their livelihoods. ActionAid partners are supporting work to monitor and challenge this illegal fishing activity. And they told us about their hopes for a permanent dam that would hold water levels at the lake and enable fish stocks to replenish. In a pretty impressive feat of amateur engineering, the community has already built a dam that seemed to be working well when we walk passed it on the way to the community. But the 'home made' dam does not stand up to the ravages of the wet season and the community end up having to undertake the back breaking and time consuming work of rebuilding it each year. A permanent dam would cost only about $35,000 and&nbsp;ActionAid partners are working with the community on an advocacy project to have the local authority support this.</p><p>We learnt about the local fishing committee (whose community-elected head is a brilliantly articulate and enthusiastic guy called Yen Morng). The committee came across as a strong and vibrant group that has - by their own accounts - benefited massively from ActionAid partner training and capacity building. There was some good natured banter as to why only two of the eleven committee members are women and I had some hope that Yen Morng had taken our comments on board that more women need to be involved in this important work.</p><p><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_1201_0.jpg" alt="File 22283" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="740" /></p><p>We also talked about Child Sponsorship. There are a number of sponsored children in the community and their parents had a good understanding of why we collect child messages and photos and how this translates into some of the positive changes they are seeing in their community.</p><p>And then we had a treat. A ride on one of the community fishing boats around the local waterscape. We visited a shelter on the lake built with ActionAid support that enables community members to monitor illegal fishing.</p><p>Finally we returned to shore for a lunch of rice and fresh fish with the community before heading back to Phnom Penh. Lunch was a significant battle with a persistent plague of flies, but the fish was delicious.</p><p>I was very impressed by what I saw in Kampong Thom province. The community is benefiting from a programme approach that sees strategic allocation of child sponsorship income, a really tangible linking of the local and national through the advocacy partners and a genuine sense that the community is learning the skills that will make it self-reliant.</p><p><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/img_1205.jpg" alt="File 22284" title="" class="ibimage null" width="555" height="416" /></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.ie/2014/02/how-entire-community-benefits-child-sponsorship#comments Cambodia Asia child sponsorship Food rights International Tue, 25 Feb 2014 16:11:56 +0000 matthew.beard 509680 at http://www.actionaid.ie