Latest updates http://www.actionaid.org/feed/all en Ebola Outbreak: Triumph of human spirit and hope for better future http://www.actionaid.org/2015/01/ebola-outbreak-triumph-human-spirit-and-hope-better-future <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="/2015/01/ebola-outbreak-triumph-human-spirit-and-hope-better-future" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/rs_138776" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>This is one of the most challenging situations that I have ever faced in my 15 years of working in emergencies. I have never seen such fear around Ebola, even in distant countries like India.</p><p>On my flight from Brussels to Freetown, the plane was half empty, and most of the other passengers were from other international agencies responding to the Ebola outbreak. But as always happens during any disaster, when I arrived, it was clear that the human spirit is indomitable and always looks to overcome a grave situation.</p><p>At the airport, it was heartening to see the screening measures including hand washing and temperature checks. The exciting journey by boat to the Freetown showed the tourism potential the country might have had before the Ebola outbreak. Hotels are full, but the people staying there are international aid workers, rather than the tourists who are greatly needed to support the economy. <strong></strong></p><p><strong>I have never known a health emergency that has captured the world’s attention so much - not just because of the human causalities, but because of the lack of preparedness within the country to deal with it at all levels.</strong> Socially, it is difficult to control the epidemic in cities like Freetown where the Chiefs are dormant and have no influence in households, especially amongst youths. In more rural areas, the Chiefs play key roles in raising awareness of the disease and controlling the epidemic, particularly through the neighbourhood watch committees that ActionAid has set up. One of the ways we are trying to increase awareness in the urban areas is through newly formed neighbourhood watch committees with literate youths who educate communities on how to break the transmission.</p><p>Ebola affected communities that ActionAid and our local partners are working with face an uphill struggle economically, with so many people having lost their sources of income. This is particularly hard for families where the head of the household has passed away because of Ebola. When women here are left to become the head of the household, the impact is even greater on both them and their children. The increased burden is of securing an income by working in the fields, on top of doing the housework, and caring for children, the elderly and the sick. The Krio tribal community in Western Rural Area is just one of many whose main source of livelihood, petty trading, has been severely affected by the outbreak. An alternative means to earn a living used to be stone mining, but that has also been closed until the outbreak is over. Left with no choice, now their main sustenance is gardening in the backyard which can hardly sustain them.</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/local_markets_hardly_getting_any_bussiness_on_the_way_to_newton_from_freetown.jpg" alt="File 27848" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="416" /><span class="ibimage-caption">Deserted market place outside Freetown (Photo: ActionAid)</span></div></p><p>Life has been on hold here in Sierra Leone for months now. People are saying that they miss the hugs and handshakes which were a common part of daily culture. Many cultural events have been cancelled, or are so severely restricted that the soul of celebration is missing.</p><p><strong>What started out as a health crisis has now devastated all other parts of life including livelihoods, education and women’s rights to name just a few. </strong></p><p>But there is hope. The new cases have already gone down from 50 per day in December to single digits – 5 per day as per the latest official reports. 11 of the 14 districts are currently showing no new cases, which is a definite sign of containment of the disease. But should we be satisfied with the mere <em>control</em> of the disease, or should we treat this disaster as an opportunity to improve the lives of Ebola affected communities? Can health standards improve the overall health situation of the country? Can the educational institutions improve their quality and also take care of health of the children? Can we find alternative and improved livelihoods for men and women in families affected by Ebola, as well as strengthening the traditional livelihoods? Can we help children whose parents have died due to Ebola have a better future?</p><p>The answer is yes to all these questions, provided that we approach the challenges with a positive attitude and spirit, and look at the <em>opportunities</em> in this emergency. This also calls for international assistance on a large scale especially over the longer term to support communities once the outbreak is over. The New Year and any new disasters should not make us forget the enormous support that the communities of Sierra Leone urgently need to rebuild their lives for a better future.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong>ActionAid has already supported over 177,000 people affected by Ebola in Sierra Leone</strong>, through public education on Ebola prevention, providing sanitation supplies to health facilities, food and sanitary items to quarantined households and orphans, and education packs to children. But we will also be here for years to come, with our local partners helping communities, particularly women, to regain their jobs and go back into education, but also campaign for better health services in Sierra Leone. We will also work closely with communities making sure that they are better prepared for any future health crises.</p><p><a href="http://www.actionaid.org/ebola">You can donate to the Ebola response fund by clicing here</a></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.org/2015/01/ebola-outbreak-triumph-human-spirit-and-hope-better-future#comments Africa Sierra Leone ebola Emergencies & Conflict International Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:46:16 +0000 DebabratPatra 582124 at http://www.actionaid.org Safe Cities for Women and the Rise of the Mainstream Feminist http://www.actionaid.org/2015/01/safe-cities-women-and-rise-mainstream-feminist <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="/2015/01/safe-cities-women-and-rise-mainstream-feminist" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/16_doa_collage.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 dir="ltr">2014 was undoubtedly the <a href="http://gu.com/p/44dqe/sfb">Year of the Feminist.</a> Having worked in women’s rights for a number of years, and having been passionate about them for a good deal more, I’ve felt something change over the past twelve months. Something growing. The cry for women’s equality, and for the freedom to make our own decisions about our bodies, choices and lives has never been this loud, this defiant, in my lifetime.</p><p dir="ltr">And it seems unstoppable.</p><p dir="ltr">From highlighting the problems (in case it’s not already obvious) to tens of millions through viral videos like the <a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/video-showing-harassment-of-woman-in-new-york-goes-viral-1.1980719">woman in New York</a> who was persistently harassed walking through the streets of her own city, to women in Kenya claiming their right to dress as they please without being subjected to sexual abuse, (with the rather brilliant hashtag <a href="http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201411131934-0024345">#mydressmychoice</a>), the pushback against gender-based violence has become as universal as the problem itself.</p><p dir="ltr">We learned that <a href="http://time.com/114043/yesallwomen-hashtag-santa-barbara-shooting/">#YesAllWomen</a> experience discrimination and harassment, and we watched as women reclaimed their public spaces in innovative (and pretty damned cool) ways. They were <a href="http://scroll.in/article/695586/Indian-women-are-loitering-to-make-their-cities-safer">loitering in India</a>, they were openly shaming offenders in <a href="http://www.closeronline.co.uk/2014/11/rapist-ched-evans-banned-after-public-outcry">Britain</a> and <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/01/golden-globes-cosby-joke/384426/">the US</a>, they were boldly protesting injustice <a href="http://time.com/3259455/columbia-student-pledges-to-carry-a-mattress-every-day-till-alleged-rapist-leaves-campus/">offline on the streets</a> and <a href="https://www.change.org/p/adam-crozier-cancel-dapper-laughs-on-the-pull-on-itv">online via social media</a> in unprecedented numbers.</p><p dir="ltr">And ActionAid, I’m proud to say, is part of this incredible shift, this powerful movement. Our Safe Cities for Women campaign, happening already in countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, is amplifying the voices of women who are saying openly what every woman knows to be true: Our streets and cities are not as safe for us, by virtue of the fact that we are women. And it’s beyond high time that they were.</p><p dir="ltr">This is why ActionAid countries recently joined together for 16 Days of Activism, a global annual event decrying violence against women in all its forms. For ActionAid and our supporters, it was a moment of uniting across borders - women and men, young and old - demanding a better, more equitable experience for all of us living in cities, especially women. Because, while our cities are diverse, each with their own character and culture, the problems women face in moving around them are much the same.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s simple (but our supporters around the world are spelling it out anyway):</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/action2015?src=hash">#action2015</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/safecitiesbecause?src=hash">#safecitiesbecause</a> I need to feel secure in my own way free from being violated as a woman</p>— shamim juma (@ShamimJuma) <a href="https://twitter.com/ShamimJuma/status/555663419488342016">January 15, 2015</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SafeCitiesBecause?src=hash">#SafeCitiesBecause</a> D city should b safe for women and girls at all times to enable them move freely <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/16DOANG?src=hash">#16DOANG</a></p>— Funmilayo Oyefusi (@funmititi1) <a href="https://twitter.com/funmititi1/status/540474186821812224">December 4, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/safecitiesbecause?src=hash">#safecitiesbecause</a> 1 night I went hungry cuz it wz too late at night to walk to 24hr shop alone. Men don't deal with this! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/16DOANG?src=hash">#16DOANG</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/VAW?src=hash">#VAW</a></p>— McKinley (@mckinleycharles) <a href="https://twitter.com/mckinleycharles/status/540458028395679746">December 4, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p dir="ltr">16 Days of Activism provided our Safe Cities for Women campaign and its supporters around the world with our first opportunity to shout collectively, with one voice, for women’s right to the city. In a dozen countries, we sang, we marched, we danced, we shared stories, we demanded action from those with the power to improve our streets through better infrastructure and public services. Even more importantly, we demanded a broader change in society. Because while blaming survivors who are courageous enough to speak out, and the existence of a global rape culture that protects perpetrators has never been acceptable, it sure as hell isn’t now.</p><p dir="ltr">Here’s to shouting even louder and aiming even higher in 2015.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><strong></strong></strong><em>For more information about ActionAid’s Safe Cities for Women campaign, visit <a href="http://www.actionaid.org/safe">www.actionaid.org/safe</a></em></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.org/2015/01/safe-cities-women-and-rise-mainstream-feminist#comments Safe Cities Womens Rights International Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:57:08 +0000 kate.seewald 580709 at http://www.actionaid.org Ben Phillips - our new Director of Policy, Research, Advocacy and Campaigns... http://www.actionaid.org/2015/01/ben-phillips-our-new-director-policy-research-advocacy-and-campaigns <div class="field field-body"> <P>We're&nbsp;really excited that Ben has joined ActionAid International as the new Director of Policy, Research, Advocacy and Campaigns.&nbsp;We know he is&nbsp;really looking forward to&nbsp;learning more about&nbsp;and contributing to what ActionAid is achieving internationally.&nbsp;In the meantime, here's an interview we did with him recently to help&nbsp;you to get to know a little more about him.....</p> <P><STRONG>Q. Ben, what inspires you?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> The extraordinary power of ordinary people.&nbsp; The <A href="http://www.globaldashboard.org/2014/06/21/unquiet-challenging-inequality-pakistan/" target="_blank">grassroots women activists I met last year in Pakistan who are challenging inequality</a>. The young people in Europe who are challenging austerity. The human rights defenders in Palestine and the brave Israeli activists who in following their humanity are labelled traitors and worse. The friends I got to know when I went as an 18 year old I went to live in a township in South Africa just after the end of Apartheid, who told me of all they endured in their struggle for equality. Every time someone stands up for their brothers and sisters and shows <A href="http://reseteando.org/ben-phillips-power-people-can-challenge-people-power/" target="_blank">the power of the people to challenge the people with power</a>.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What did you want to be when you were at school?&nbsp;</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> A pianist in a basement jazz bar, accompanying Ella Fitzgerald. Or an astronaut.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What was your worst job ever?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> I was having a wonderful time as a teacher in a small village in Eastern India, before mobile phones when the nearest phone was an hour away, when from polluted water I started to lose my sight first in one eye and then in both eyes and people kept saying every day they were sure the travelling doctor would come tomorrow - a statement made in hope rather than expectation. By the time I was picked up by a passing vehicle and taken to the city I couldn't see at all. My time recovering was a also a time to reflect on the value of universal health care.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What would you most like to see change in the world?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> Respect for all - which at a values level means that everyone will be treated as special and important, and at a policy level will mean reconnecting economics with focusing on the human and seeing the human as central, and seeing any economic or political or social policies as instruments of the human, rather than seeing the human as an instrument of an economic policy.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What is your biggest dream you want to achieve at ActionAid?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> To contribute to a rebalancing in the world to help strengthen the power of the people, and weaken the stranglehold of the people in power. And to help bury the old orthodoxies that have so demonstrably failed the majority. I think ActionAid can play a really vital role in this alongside and supporting movements for change across the world - and that our values, which we need to express in clearer, more powerful, more human ways - are shared not only be a minority of activists but by the majority of people everywhere.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. What puts a smile on your face outside of work?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> Travelling to new places with my children.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be.</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> Whoever got to be that pianist in the basement jazz bar with Ella Fitzgerald. And the astronaut.</p> <P><STRONG>Q. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?</strong></p> <P><STRONG>A.</strong> In a world that's much fairer, I hope - but still determined to make it fairer still.</p> <P><STRONG>(P.S. Follow&nbsp;Ben on twitter here: <A href="https://twitter.com/benphillips76">@benphillips76</a>.)</strong></p> </div> http://www.actionaid.org/2015/01/ben-phillips-our-new-director-policy-research-advocacy-and-campaigns#comments International Tue, 13 Jan 2015 15:38:18 +0000 Ben Phillips 579477 at http://www.actionaid.org Philippines Typhoons: Landless affectees need collaborative support from INGOs and the government http://www.actionaid.org/shared/philippines-typhoons-landless-affectees-need-collaborative-support-ingos-and-government <div class="field field-origin-node"> <div class="buildmode-4"> <div class="node node-type-blog_post clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"></div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> Philippines Asia Emergencies & Conflict International Thu, 08 Jan 2015 07:25:07 +0000 Zakaria.Nutkani 579053 at http://www.actionaid.org Typhoons mired communities struggle hard to evade future disasters http://www.actionaid.org/shared/typhoons-mired-communities-struggle-hard-evade-future-disasters <div class="field field-origin-node"> <div class="buildmode-4"> <div class="node node-type-blog_post clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"></div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> Philippines Asia Haiyan Emergencies & Conflict International Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:05:36 +0000 Zakaria.Nutkani 578871 at http://www.actionaid.org Right to Speak out in Pursuit of Justice http://www.actionaid.org/2015/01/right-speak-out-pursuit-justice <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="/2015/01/right-speak-out-pursuit-justice" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/ko_li_reh_angelo_ldn_kayah.png" alt="" title="Ex Fellow Ko Li Reh Angelo from Kayah State, Myanmar" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <h3 class="MsoNormal"><span>Half a century of armed conflict and human rights violations has left wounds in many corners of Myanmar, which are difficult to heal. Former fellows, who grew up during the conflict, used their unique position to help provide public consultations and reconciliation following the ceasefire agreement in Kayah State.</span></h3><p><span>In 2011 the fellowship programme was phased out in Kayah State, but Ko Li Reh Angelo, Ko Nan Ri and10 other former fellows <span>–</span> who all grew up during the conflict <span>–</span> were not ready to quit. They decided to start their own organisation to continue development work with the communities they had engaged with as fellows.</span></p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span><strong>I</strong>n Kayah all the other NGOs were religious. We wanted to form an organisation that had no religious affiliations. It was difficult and we needed funds,</span></strong><span><strong>&nbsp;said Ko Li Reh Angelo.</strong></span></p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In April 2012 the former Fellows managed to establish the Local Development Network (LDN), which is now ActionAid<span>’</span>s local partner Organisation in Kayah State. Ko Li Reh Angelo estimates that the Fellows used to spend half their time on conflict related issues.</span></p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Now, with the ceasefire, we can work much more efficiently on actual development,</span><span>&nbsp;he said.</span></strong></p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><span>When the current ceasefire agreement was reached in March 2012, the Local Development Network was determined to ensure proper public consultations.</span></p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>The sustainability of any ceasefire depends on a strong community engagement. If people are not aware about the actual agreement both sides can break it with impunity at village level</span></strong></p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In May 2012 the Local Development Network and 11 other local civil society organisations founded the Kayah State Peace Monitoring Network (KSPMN) to support public consultations and monitor the ceasefire. Cooperating with both sides of the ceasefire agreement they organised more than 20 public consultations over the next one and a half year. Before each consultation they met with local villagers to explain the aim of the event, emphasising that everyone should feel free to ask questions and raise their concerns.</span></p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>We need to encourage villagers to ask questions <span>–</span> they are very afraid after decades of random threats and torture during the armed conflict</span><span>&nbsp;</span></strong></p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><span>It was a welcome surprise when U Saw Maw, 52, received an invitation to attend a public consultation about the 2012 ceasefire in Kayah State, which had put an end to half a century of armed conflict.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><div class="ibimage-with-caption ibimage_left" style="width:555px;"><img src="http://actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/image_content_fullwidth/image/u_saw_maw_villagers_in_demoso_township.png" alt="File 27524" title="" class="ibimage" width="555" height="311" /><span class="ibimage-caption">U Saw Maw, villagers from Htay Su Phyar village, Demoso township</span></div></span></p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>"At the last ceasefire, in 1995, we had no consultations, so this was definitely an improvement. It made me feel that my right to speak out about my concerns is now respected,"</span></strong><span><strong>&nbsp;said U Saw Maw, who lives in Htay Su Phyar village, Demoso township.</strong></span></p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><em>NOTE: This article is extracted from the booklet titled "The Change We Wintess: Stories from Myanmar"</em></p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.org/2015/01/right-speak-out-pursuit-justice#comments Ceasefire fellow Myanmar Youth Governance International Fri, 02 Jan 2015 07:05:49 +0000 Yilan 578661 at http://www.actionaid.org Supporting Ebola orphans http://www.actionaid.org/shared/supporting-ebola-orphans-0 <div class="field field-origin-node"> <div class="buildmode-4"> <div class="node node-type-blog_post clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"></div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> Africa Liberia aid ebola emergency food Kru liberia Monrovia New orphans response sanitation supplies Town Emergencies & Conflict International Fri, 02 Jan 2015 03:56:36 +0000 Christal.dathong 578521 at http://www.actionaid.org Remembering the Tsunami ten years on http://www.actionaid.org/2014/12/remembering-tsunami-ten-years <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="/2014/12/remembering-tsunami-ten-years" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/tsunami_ten_years_on.jpg" alt="ActionAid Tsunami Response" title="ActionAid Tsunami Response" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>I remember the Indian Ocean tsunami like it was yesterday. Never before had I seen such devastation – and I haven’t seen anything like it since.</p><p>In India, nobody had heard of a ‘tsunami’ before, so when they were told one was coming, they didn’t react appropriately. Even the government had very little understanding of what the tsunami would be and how to react to the warnings.</p><p>And nor did communities. Three quarters of those who died in the tsunami in India were women, which was partly because when the waves came, female fisher-folk were doing what they usually did at that time of day – waiting on the beach for the fish to come in.</p><p>At ActionAid, we reacted immediately. The morning after it hit we convened an emergency meeting, and within a day, we had team members in each of the affected districts in Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Kerala and Andhrapradesh, conducting rapid assessments of the damage. &nbsp;Next day, one team went to Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the rapid assessment and to initiate the Emergency response for affected island communities. This was biggest ever Emergency Response that Action Aid carried out, covering 5 provinces of India.</p><p>I went to Chennai, one of the biggest cities in India, right on the southern India coast.</p><p>I couldn’t believe what I saw. &nbsp;All of the houses were destroyed. People were sleeping on the street. There was a lot of confusion. People were crying because they had lost their family members. It was horrific.</p><p>We needed to talk to people, but they were not in a state to talk.&nbsp; The main thing I remember from those days is the confusion, the sadness, the helplessness.</p><p>Our team started putting together information. People had no food. They had nowhere to live.</p><p>We teamed up with our local partners – most of whom were women self-help groups, who were made up of community members, which made it easy to reach out to affected families. They led the response, and we supported them.</p><p>Together, we distributed rice and yoghurt, and other staple food.&nbsp; We reached 25,000 people in our immediate response:&nbsp; women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities – those who were left out of other relief distributions.</p><p>But I think our most major achievement was the long term work that we did with communities in response to the issues that the tsunami brought about for them.</p><p>One of the most significant issues was that the Government at the time made a declaration that nobody could live on the coast, which they said was a precautionary measure against future tsunamis. This was a major issue for fishing communities, who depended on the sea and the beach for their livelihoods.</p><p>So ActionAid collected information on this policy and started discussing with community leaders and development groups what could be done.</p><p>All of the coastal villages came together to form an enormous campaign they called is “Sea is life, Coast is right”. This was led by the women in the communities – women who had joined the self-help groups as part of the emergency response. They started writing applications and letters to the government &nbsp;- and eventually, they won. This empowered communities greatly.</p><p>The greatest lesson to be learnt from the tsunami response is that if you empower people, they will cope with disasters. By working together, the women’s groups who responded to the tsunami then have the capacity to prepare for future disasters now. Furthermore, these groups have continued to work together since, and collectively, they have a stronger voice to bargain with government. Together, they have achieved great changes. They have fought for women’s rights, for children’s rights and for the rights of coastal communities, and they have won.&nbsp;</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.org/2014/12/remembering-tsunami-ten-years#comments News tsunami Emergencies & Conflict International Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:33:46 +0000 amar.nayak 576655 at http://www.actionaid.org Gaza: the ghost of war http://www.actionaid.org/2014/12/gaza-ghost-war <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="/2014/12/gaza-ghost-war" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/imagecache/thumb_large/image/mohamed.jpg" alt="Mohamed&#039;s career as a professional footballer ended when his leg was hit by shra" title="Mohamed&#039;s career as a professional footballer ended when his leg was hit by shrapnel" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>I was privileged to live and work in Gaza for a little under a year and it was exactly a year ago today that I packed my bags to move to Jordan. It’s hard enough to move out of any place you have grown to love, but when you are faced with the chance you might not be able to return, or indeed for any of your dearest friends to leave Gaza and visit you due to an 8-year-old blockade, it’s doubly as hard.</p><p>I returned to &nbsp;Gaza in the summer during the five-day truce in the latest escalation in the conflict that killed around 2,200 Palestinians. There was an atmosphere of panic and uncertainty, as people returned home to find their house and belongings destroyed and with it, a lifetime of memories.</p><p>To my surprise, despite the mass loss of life, and destruction on an unfathomable scale, there was still a sense of hope that ‘things had to change.’&nbsp; Gaza’s eight-year long blockade has meant that Palestinians living inside the Gaza Strip are effectively trapped. Most cannot travel outside the small enclave and imports and exports are extremely limited meaning that the economy has crashed, leaving hundreds of thousands without a job. Even before the summer a staggering 80% of people living in Gaza relied on some form of humanitarian assistance,</p><p>Last week I returned again to Gaza, some four months after the ceasefire was announced and the mood of the people had taken a dramatic turn - for the worse. The sense of hope people had during the war had disappeared and only a sense of despair left in its place.</p><p>Reminders of the war were on every corner; a home turned to rubble or a person limbless in the street.&nbsp; But it’s not only the physical reminders of war that haunts the people. It’s the sounds they hear when they try to sleep, or the rush of anxiety they feel as a truck drives past or as a thunderstorm lights up the night sky.</p><p>I spoke with Najwa Sheikh, a mother of four. During the war, Najwa and her family stayed inside their home for the 51 days of war. She and her husband tried to occupy their children by playing games by candlelight. The blockade on Gaza and damage to the main power plant in multiple wars means that there are power cuts for up to 18 hours each day. When nighttime fell, Najwa and her family were forced to listen to the sound of bombs and nearby shelling in darkness.</p><p>She said, <em>“We used to tell the kids that the noises were just fireworks. But they saw how scared we were and knew we were lying…. I can’t tell you how it feels as a parent to not be able to tell you children that everything is going to be ok.”</em></p><p>Najwa’s six-year-old son has undergone three wars in his short lifetime and war has now sadly become part of his daily life. Najwa explained, “<em>My youngest (</em>son<em>) went to school recently and was learning about the seasons. The teacher told him there are four seasons; summer, winter, spring and autumn. He told the teacher there is another season. The war season.”</em></p><p>She explained, ‘<em>When ‘normal’ people living outside of Gaza experience a traumatic event, they might go on holiday, or focus on their job, but for people in Gaza, we are living in a perpetual cycle of daily existence, where every day is the same. There is no way the war can leave you.”</em></p><p>For Mohamed Abu Beed, a 21-year-old professional footballer who lived in Al Shejiyah neighborhood, the war did not leave him neither emotionally, nor physically. As he ran fleeing the streets of his home, his leg was hit by shrapnel glass, which severed a main artery. His leg was amputated and he was left without his main source of income and unable to live the life he knew and loved.</p><p>Mohamed explained, <em>“My whole life was football. I would get up every morning and go to my training session. In the evening I was reading about tactics and would watch international games. …..I could have played for the national team of Palestine, but the blockade restricted me from ever visiting the West Bank … Now all I do here is sit. All day long”</em></p><p>For many, the memories of war are hard to let go of. The levels of trauma in adults and children have skyrocketed. It is estimated that one in two children in Gaza are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder with symptoms including bedwetting, insomnia and behavioral difficulties.</p><p>&nbsp;ActionAid will be working with partner organization Fekra, to help 1600 children still suffering from the memories of the war, and helping them to deal with their experiences through drama and animation. We will also be working with women farmers who lost their livelihoods by helping them to rebuild their agricultural business, as well as providing psychosocial support, and working with a health organization to provide much needed medicines. &nbsp;</p> </div> http://www.actionaid.org/2014/12/gaza-ghost-war#comments Project Gaza Emergencies & Conflict International Thu, 11 Dec 2014 11:51:39 +0000 Jo Harrison 575896 at http://www.actionaid.org Typhoon Hagupit: People in Panic and a Test of Preparedness to Disasters http://www.actionaid.org/2014/12/typhoon-hagupit-people-panic-and-test-preparedness-disasters <div class="field field-body"> <p>As the day anticipated for the landfall of Typhoon Hagupit (locally known as Ruby) draws nearer, people across the Philippines are in panic. The strength of sustained wind for the last three days has been fluctuating between 145 – 250kmph with gust of 230 - 240kmph over the pacific. The government weather forecast indicates that there will be storm surge of 3-7 meters and heavy rainfall causing floods and landslides in some areas. Hagupit is expected to make land fall either Saturday night (8pm) of early Sunday morning (1am) in Eastern Visayas, similar to Typhoon Haiyan track of landfall. Nearly 50 provinces will be affected with Samar, Northern and Eastern Samar at highest risk of the impact of storm surge and strong winds.</p><p>The government of the Philippines, the most vulnerable communities, and humanitarian actors took necessary steps to reduce risk and respond to anticipated impact of Hagupit landfall. The most vulnerable communities, especially people living in poverty, were fast in responding to early warnings of Typhoon Hagupit. I have witnessed widespread panic buying across the provinces at most risk to Hagupit. People used their meagre resources to stock food and basic needs.&nbsp; Thousands of vulnerable people voluntarily evacuated from their homes and government forced a number of people to relocate to evacuation centres especially communities residing in coastal areas.&nbsp; The government and most vulnerable people cut down trees along the road and near residents respectively. The panic in people is largely attributable to the fresh memories and learning from the impact of typhoon Yolanda, the widespread information that Hagupit will be much more devastating than Haiyan, and the fact that people are more informed and conscious to prevent, reduce risk and respond to disasters.</p><p>What remains uncertain at this point is the extent to which learning from Haiyan response is informing government and humanitarian actors in preparing to save lives and protect the rights of people prior to, during and after Hagupit landfall. Pre-Hagupit landfall, it is critical to ensure that there is sustained supply of food and basic needs for people in evacuation centres, people’s rights especially women and children are protected during forced evacuation and in the evacuation centres. In areas with no evacuation centres, government needs to secure safe spaces for vulnerable people</p><p>One year after Haiyan, vulnerable communities with the support of government and humanitarian actors have made some progress in rebuilding lives and livelihood even though the recovery process has been slow. However, nearly one million people have not rebuilt their house. Over 24,000 people are displaced in either evacuation centres or bunkhouses. The greatest concern at the moment is that if the sustained wind intensifies, then Hagupit will be a turning point for all recovery and reconstruction efforts post Haiyan. In worst case scenario, Typhoon Hagupit landfall will cause mass destruction similar to Typhoon Haiyan which affected 14.1 million people, killed 6,201 and destroyed 1.1 million houses, among others. Strong sustained winds above 200kmph implies that houses rebuilt, productive assets restored, farm lands and coconuts replanted, schools and hospitals reconstructed may possibility be destroyed.&nbsp; It’s important to note that, Typhoon Hagupit will be a test of time, a test of BUILDING BACK BETTER, and a test of disaster preparedness in the Philippines. It may call for a fresh start in rebuilding lives and livelihood.</p><p>My experience working with most vulnerable people in typhoon affected areas shows that some people, especially women have not yet fully recovered from the shock and devastating experiences of Haiyan. At this point, I am more worried about the fact that the landfall will be at night, precisely Saturday night. The fundamental question is: How are we going to ensure that we respond to emerging needs in a timely and effective manner that is people-centred and rights based at night. The government, humanitarian actors and the people need to be more prepared to respond to emerging needs and save lives at night. It’s critical to take into consideration the diverse and unique needs of women, children, men and people with disability in all aspects of humanitarian response.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h3 style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.actionaid.org/donate-haiyan">Please donate to our emergency response fund today</a></h3> </div> http://www.actionaid.org/2014/12/typhoon-hagupit-people-panic-and-test-preparedness-disasters#comments Philippines Asia Emergencies & Conflict International Sat, 06 Dec 2014 21:07:29 +0000 Joyce.Laker 575180 at http://www.actionaid.org