Oxfam International Blogs - water and sanitation http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/water-and-sanitation en Making a difference in South Sudan: Ensuring those in need are not forgotten http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-05-11-making-difference-south-sudan-ensuring-those-need-are-not-forgotten <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Oxfam emergency team leader Cecilia shares her experiences delivering humanitarian aid on the front line in South Sudan. "If we don’t make sacrifices, who will?"</strong></p><p>I’ve seen a lot in my job. As an emergency responder, I am usually close to the front line and the people who have fled from it.</p><p>I have seen people shot as they collect drinking water from a river and people giving every last drop of energy to save others. I saw the country start to climb to its feet after independence in 2011 and I’ve seen it torn apart by conflict since 2013. I’ve seen the best and worst of the people of South Sudan.</p><p><strong>I’ve been doing this job for 8 years</strong> – moving from place to place usually every three months – so I have seen more than most.</p><p>In this conflict, in which everything often seems out of the control of us ordinary citizens, it is a rare feeling to know that you can have large and positive impact. But I have that. I lead a big team of people with even bigger hearts wherever I go: water engineers, latrine builders, health promoters, teacher trainers and community protection specialists.</p><p><strong>Together, we help save lives and keep people going.</strong></p><p><img alt="Women carrying water in buckets that they have collected in Buong, South Sudan. Credit: Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title="Women carrying water in buckets that they have collected in Buong, South Sudan. Credit: Tim Bierley/Oxfam" height="683" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/111210lpr-buong-women-carry-water-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Women carrying water in buckets that they have collected in Buong, South Sudan. Credit: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em></p><p>We’ve just come back from two remote villages called Buong and Weichjol, where thousands of people arrived after fighting came to their towns last year. When our team arrived, the needs were huge.</p><p><strong>There was no clean running water</strong>, so people were drinking and washing with swamp water. Diseases had spread and with few medical facilities in the town, things were quickly getting worse.</p><p>My team drilled new water points and repaired broken ones. We showed people how to treat and prevent eye infections that were by then endemic in the town – and which would cause blindness if untreated. We helped people pay for their loved ones to travel to a health clinic if their sickness was life-threatening. We trained teachers to make sure all those newly arrived children don’t lose their education as well as their homes.</p><p><strong>We made a difference.</strong></p><p><img alt="Malakal used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, but now resembles a ghost town as thousands of people have fled the violence there. Credit: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam" title="Malakal used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, but now resembles a ghost town as thousands of people have fled the violence there. Credit: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam" height="826" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/105648lpr-malakal-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Malakal used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, but now resembles a ghost town as thousands of people have fled the violence there. Credit: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam</em></p><p><strong>Being there to help my country people can be so rewarding</strong> of course, but this role has also brought some of the worst experiences of my life. In 2014, I was working in a camp in Malakal when heavy fighting broke out in the town. We could not go outside for days because the fighting was so heavy. We just sheltered, unable to reach our food stocks and, worse, unable to help.</p><p>Sometimes I wish we could stay to see the long-term results of our work. but that is the nature of the job. We act quickly and then have to move on.</p><p>There is always another emergency we must respond to.</p><p>Before we go though, I make sure the needs of the people in each place are heard and that the organizations that will continue our work know exactly what they must do.</p><p>We do most of our work in very remote areas – sometimes in the middle of swamps, sometimes between front lines, sometimes virtually out in the bush.</p><p><strong>I see it as my duty to make sure they are not forgotten.</strong></p><p><em>Oxfam and our partners are <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">working across South Sudan</a> to provide life-saving clean water and promote awareness of the key ways in which disease can be stopped from spreading.</em></p><p><em>Ongoing projects include drilling and repairing boreholes, digging latrines and training health promoters to lead on disease prevention in their communities, wherever they go. </em></p><p><em>The work of Cecilia’s emergency response team is carried out with the support of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (<a href="https://ec.europa.eu/echo/" rel="nofollow">ECHO</a>).</em></p><p><em>This entry posted by Cecilia Kiden, on 11 May 2018. Cecilia is a team leader in Oxfam's roving Emergency Preparedness &amp; Response team in South Sudan. Her team travels around South Sudan responding to the most urgent water, sanitation and education needs and helping to keep people safe from disease, malnutrition and violence. She has worked for Oxfam since 2011, starting out as a Public Health Promotion Assistant, before working her way to her current position.</em></p><p><em>Top photo: Cecilia and Gatkuoth work on a borehole repair in Buong camp, South Sudan. Credit: Tim Bierley/Oxfam<br></em></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Making a difference in South Sudan: Ensuring those in need are not forgotten</h2></div> Fri, 11 May 2018 14:29:30 +0000 Guest Blogger 81542 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-05-11-making-difference-south-sudan-ensuring-those-need-are-not-forgotten#comments In South Sudan, Oxfam races the rains to save lives http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-04-04-south-sudan-oxfam-races-rains-save-lives <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>In the middle of war, even the simple solutions to staying healthy can feel impossible. In South Sudan, Oxfam is bringing education and resources to communities to help save lives - every day.<br></strong></p><p>"You can do many simple things to keep control of cholera and diarrhea," explains Yoal, an Oxfam health volunteer in Pading, South Sudan. But it gets more complicated when your town’s water pumps break down and people are forced to drink swamp water. When animals drink and defecate in the same water sources. When there are no toilets.&nbsp;When you only have one container for bathing, collecting water, and washing clothes and dishes. When conflict cuts off your town from almost all trade and the price of soap is more than many people earn in a week. When sick people must walk 30 miles through blistering heat to reach the nearest hospital.</p><p>“It is hard for people to keep healthy here,” Yoal sighs. “In 2017, we had so many cases of cholera and diarrhea. We lost 27 people.”</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/yoal-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="1" data-fid="10877" data-media-element="1"><br><br><em>Yoal, an Oxfam community health volunteer, teaches the importance of keeping water containers clean in Lankien. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em><br><br>Yoal’s home town of Pading is a small cluster of cone shaped huts in Nyirol County in the northeast of South Sudan. It is extremely remote – surrounded by huge stretches of almost completely flat land, compressed into uniformity by the swamps which swell in the rainy season between May and October. The swamps make delivering aid to places like Pading extremely difficult and they also increase the risk of cholera, as the expanding waters soak and mix up everything in their path.</p><p>Soon, rains will thunder down on Pading again. With lives at stake, Oxfam is racing to make sure communities like this one are prepared with the means to fight off another outbreak during the wet season.</p><h3>Oxfam and local leaders respond ahead of the rains</h3><p>Last month, engineers from our mobile emergency response team repaired the town’s two water pumps, so Pading will have clean water this year. Now we’re working with volunteers like Yoal to teach people practical ways to keep disease at bay, as well as handing out ustensils like water buckets, containers for bathing, soap and drinking cups.</p><p>The key to surviving in extremely risky situations like this, Yoal says, is being completely thorough.</p><p>“Sometimes, everyone within the family has to rely on the same containers for lots of different uses,” he says. “You have to be extremely careful about how you use your resources.”</p><p>He explains that <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/push-south-sudan-deadly-civil-war-171214071246774.html" rel="nofollow">as the war has dragged on</a>, people have grown increasingly tired. They have seen friends and family die. It can be hard to persuade people that it’s possible to stop the slide, when it is clear that the country's relentless conflict is forcing people into ever worsening positions.</p><p>“You have to give really practical support like telling people that even if they cannot afford soap for washing, they can use ash. They should boil water if they are drinking it from the swamp. We explain exactly how each thing can affect them.”</p><h3>Family's health is most important</h3><p>Convincing people that change is possible is not still not always easy, but Yoal says there is one thing that unites everyone: “It’s when people see the impact on their children’s health that they are really affected by what I say. Everyone just wants to keep their family safe.”</p><p>Nyawal, who volunteers for Oxfam in Lankien, a town nine hours walk from Pading, knows too well the impact cholera can have on a family. She lost two children to the disease last year. Like so many mothers in South Sudan, she felt that their lives were out of her control.</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/110583lpr.jpg-nyawal-smile-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="2" data-fid="10878" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>Nyawal, smiling with one of her children whose health has improved, is an Oxfam volunteer in Lankien helping with water and sanitation work. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em><br><br>“I have always kept things clean and done everything I can to look after my family,” she says, but adds that people across the community do not realise the constant level of vigilance needed to prevent the spread of cholera.</p><p>Cholera can spread extremely quickly and through the most innocuous-seeming sources. Nyawal says she always knew that you should wave flies away from your food, for example. It’s instinctive. But she hadn’t seen it as a life and death matter. She doesn’t know what it was that caused her children to fall to cholera, but she wants to make sure her neighbors don’t suffer the same fate.</p><p>“As someone who went through this experience I have to keep telling people to take care of themselves and their children – how to help stop these diseases. We’ve brought tools, including rakes and other types of tools to help people clean up the areas around their houses and we’re telling them how to ensure their food is safe.”</p><h3>Clean water isn't always an option in a warzone</h3><p>Just as it is impossible to keep every fly from infecting food, sometimes the conflict takes health completely out of people’s control. Just outside Lankien, William a village elder explains how fighting in the area forced him and his community to flee deep into the bush, fearing attacks on civilians. The priority was to hide, so it was not possible for people to use functioning boreholes in the area: most were close to the road and therefore considered to be too exposed.</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/110575lpr-william-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="3" data-fid="10879" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>William and his family were forced to flee violence and were too afraid to seek out clean water or boil water where they were hiding. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em><br><br>“During this time, we had to drink swamp water,” he says. “It was hot and dirty.”</p><p>He and his family could not even treat the water by boiling it, as demonstrated by Oxfam’s health volunteers, for fear that the smoke would give away their position. And almost inevitably disease spread.</p><p>“A lot of us got sick at this time,” says William. “People lost their lives.”</p><p>In a country at conflict, it is extremely hard for communities to eradicate the risk of disease completely. Having access to clean water and the utensils needed to be thorough in hygiene practices makes a huge difference, but even then, war stacks the odds against people and their health. Regular bouts of gunfire force people to prioritise physical safety over health; immediate survival over longevity. The effects of these choiceless decisions are then compounded by the resulting destruction of water sources, of trade, of whole ways of life. People continue to be forced from the homes, their routines, and their means of looking after themselves.</p><p>As long as there is fighting, thousands will continue to suffer from entirely preventable diseases. For now, Oxfam will continue to help people access clean water, maintain their dignity and keep their communities alive. Together, that is something we can at least control.</p><p><em>This entry posted by Tim Bierley, Information &amp; Communications Officer, Oxfam in South Sudan, on 4 April 2018. All photos: Tim Bierley/Oxfam.</em></p><p><em><em><strong>Oxfam and our partners are working across South Sudan to provide life-saving clean water and promote awareness of the key ways in which disease can be stopped from spreading. Oxfam's work described in this article is carried out with the support of Disasters Emergency Committee and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).&nbsp;<strong>In 2017 we reached over 500,000 people with emergency and longer-term support -- <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">please help us reach more people</a>.</strong></strong> </em></em></p><p><em><em><strong>Read the blog: <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/18-03-22-peoples-humanitarians-south-sudan-saving-lives-front-line">The people's humanitarians of South Sudan: Saving lives on the front line</a></strong></em></em></p><p><em><em><strong>Read the new report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/hungry-peace-exploring-links-between-conflict-and-hunger-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Hungry for peace: exploring the links between conflict and hunger in South Sudan </a></strong>- recommendations for the international community and warring parties on what they can do to stop the violence, increase access to humanitarian aid and allow the people of South Sudan to recover.</em></em></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>In South Sudan, Oxfam races the rains to save lives</h2></div> Wed, 04 Apr 2018 12:56:47 +0000 Tim Bierley 81467 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-04-04-south-sudan-oxfam-races-rains-save-lives#comments Fighting to keep disease at bay in the Democratic Republic of the Congo http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-04-03-fighting-keep-disease-bay-democratic-republic-congo <div class="field field-name-body"><p>In Kalemie province in southeast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the extreme violence between the Bantu and the Twa ethnic groups and brutal clashes between armed group have very forced more than 654,000 people to flee their homes and thousands of families are facing an increasingly critical food shortage.</p><h3>Conflict continues to drive hunger</h3><p>Women, children and the elderly are among those most affected after having seen families killed, villages burned and fields destroyed. The situation remains volatile and threatens to flare up again at any moment, preventing the displaced from going back to their villages and rebuild their lives.</p><p>Oxfam is supplying drinking water to the people in Kalunga camp. Oxfam also trained 61 women from the camp as hygiene promoters. Their daily work includes cleaning sanitation facilities (toilets and bath areas) in the camp, distributing water purification tablets to families.</p><h3>After overcoming tragedy, Therese is giving back to her new community</h3><p>Therese has been in the Kalunga camp since November 2016. When her village was attacked, she was separated from one of her children and her husband. Therese went looking for them after the attack but couldn't find them, and three months later she was told that their bodies had been found. Therese lives in the Kalunga camp with 9 of her children, ages 7-17 years old. She was trained by Oxfam to be a camp hygiene promoter, and she works daily to clean sanitation facilities in the camp, as well as distributing water purification tablets to families so they have safe water to drink.</p><p>Therese said: ‘’We fled as we were. There was no time to pack anything. You only took your children and ran.’’</p><p>‘’We walked for two days before reaching here. I had so many thoughts in my mind. I had been left with nothing. Sometimes I wish it was me who had died instead of my husband, because this burden is too much for me to bear.’’</p><p>‘’I have nine children remaining. One of them is paralyzed and so I had to carry her all the way.’’</p><p><img alt="Therese, an Oxfam Public Health Promoter cleaning latrines in Kalunga IDP camp, DRC. Photo: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam" title="Therese, an Oxfam Public Health Promoter cleaning latrines in Kalunga IDP camp, DRC. Photo: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam" height="828" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/111045lpr-cleaning-therese-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Therese, an Oxfam Public Health Promoter cleaning latrines in Kalunga camp for internally displaced people, DRC. Credit: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam</em></p><p>‘’We reached here in November last year and were received well. We received food for the first two months as well as some money to help us buy other things from the shops. But how can you bring up 9 children in these conditions?’’</p><p>‘’People have been talking of going back when the fighting ends. Others are even going there to check on their farms or what is left of their possessions.’’</p><p>‘’I have experienced war in my life but never have I been forced to leave my home and live in a (IDP) camp. I have never seen fighting like this.’’</p><p>‘’I never thought I would ever be here. My plan was to save money to build a house where my family could live comfortably and live an ordinary life. But now I can’t even think beyond today. How can I think of a good education for my children if I don’t know where their next meal will come from?’’</p><p><img alt="Women collecting water from a tap stand in Kalunga camp for internally displaced people, Kalemie, Tanganyika, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam" title="Women collecting water from a tap stand in Kalunga camp for internally displaced people, Kalemie, Tanganyika, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam" height="828" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/111032lpr-oxfam-tapstand-drc-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Women collecting water from a tap stand in Kalunga camp for internally displaced people, Kalemie, Tanganyika, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam</em></p><h3>Oxfam and Therese are saving lives</h3><p>Oxfam has been working in Kalemie since February 2017 and has already reached 58,302 people forced from their homes and the communities who have welcomed them. We are helping to provide clean water and sanitation facilities and working with community volunteers to educate people about the importance of good hygiene for staying healthy.</p><p><em>This entry posted by Scheherazade Bouabid, Oxfam Media and Communication Advisor, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on 3 April 2018. </em></p><p><em>Top photo: Therese, an Oxfam Public Health Promoter cleaning latrines in Kalunga IDP camp, DRC. Credit: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam<br></em></p><h3>What you can do now</h3><p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/countries/democratic-republic-congo" rel="nofollow"><strong>Read more about our work in the Democratic Republic of Congo</strong></a></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Fighting to keep disease at bay in the Democratic Republic of the Congo</h2></div> Tue, 03 Apr 2018 13:41:30 +0000 Guest Blogger 81465 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-04-03-fighting-keep-disease-bay-democratic-republic-congo#comments The people's humanitarians of South Sudan: Saving lives on the front line http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-22-peoples-humanitarians-south-sudan-saving-lives-front-line <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Working with local humanitarians in South Sudan, we're saving lives by helping provide clean water and public health promotion.</strong></em></p><p>“Whenever I arrive for work, people always shout ‘This is the man who has come to keep us alive!’” smiles 37-year-old plumber Gatkuoth as he lays down his wrench. Another day’s work is complete; another pump flowing with water.</p><p>One of hundreds of local humanitarians that Oxfam has trained and worked with in the past year, Gatkuoth is from Buong – a sandy scattering of mud and grass houses in the north east of South Sudan. Until last year, his town had managed to avoid the direct grip of the country’s four-year war, but fighting devastated this region in 2017. When shells blasted through nearby towns including Waat and Walgak, 200,000 people abandoned their homes almost overnight. Of those, thousands fled to Buong. Many did not make it. Everyone you meet here lost family or friends in the attacks.</p><p>Even after arriving in Buong though, the threat to life was far from over. As the village population swelled, water pumps began to break down and the risk of disease grew. People were forced to turn to dirty drinking water.</p><p><strong>Calling local humanitarians</strong></p><p>In the days and weeks after the fighting, Oxfam and other agencies raced to find and reach displaced people in scattered and remote locations – including Buong. When we landed in a village close by, we called for support from local humanitarians we’d previously worked with.</p><p>Gatkuoth was one of those who immediately stepped forward to join our engineers and together they got several hand pumps flowing again. With Oxfam’s rapid response team racing against the clock to find and bring water to tens of thousands of people spread across vast plains, our engineers took off quickly once work was complete; but they left Gatkuoth with a healthy supply of spare parts.</p><p>“Today’s repair is my eighteenth since then”, he says wiping his hands down oily blue overalls.</p><p>“I sometimes have to walk for two days [to get to a broken water point],” he says, blowing out his cheeks. “And when you arrive there, the work has not even started, of course.” His is the story of a true people’s humanitarian – and he is joined by dozens more on the front line.</p><p>The next to step up as emergency responders were the public health volunteers. With few latrines for thousands of new arrivals and people forced to drink stagnant rain water when boreholes broke down, fears of cholera spread. Again, we appealed for help and again, dozens of people put their hands up. Many of them had trained as disease prevention specialists in Walgak – before the town was virtually razed to the ground last April.</p><p><strong>Clean water saves lives</strong></p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/thokuang_hygiene-promoter_cholera_south-sudan-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="3" data-fid="10854" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>Thokuang, Hygiene Promoter for Cholera, South Sudan.</em></p><p>Thokuang, one of the thousands to arrive from Walgak, was one of them.</p><p>“I am trying hard to persuade people to wash their hands at the right time, drink borehole water – or at least boil the swamp water – to save their lives,” she says.</p><p>Watching as Gatkuoth and his team heave a line of dented pipes from the ground and replace them with smooth new ones – one of 12 repairs carried out in Buong - Thokuang said that before this work, “People would either have to queue for up to six hours or get water from the swamp.” Being out of the home for so long often means women, hundreds of whom have been widowed by the conflict, must choose between having clean water, or preparing food for their children. One or the other.&nbsp; Walking home after dark can also bring huge risks to women.</p><p>“Back in Walgak, we had many boreholes, so getting water was easy,” she says.</p><p>But staying had not been an option. “We didn’t just hear the guns in the distance. We saw the faces of the people firing them,” she says, eyes wide.</p><p>Trained workers like Thokuang are central to the health of communities forced to move. Having humanitarians embedded in the community proves vital, especially when fighting takes towns out of reach.</p><p><strong>Conflict all around, the work goes on</strong></p><p>The sound of heavy shelling sometimes rips through the cool night air of Buong, the horizon flashing brightly. The village is 20 kilometers from Waat, where most of those missiles are bound, but the sound is like thunder overhead. Chuol, who is also working as a community hygiene promoter – and visiting Buong today to pick up water treatment tablets – lives just a 40-minute walk from the front line. He trained with Oxfam during calmer times last year, but today his village, which continues to be hit by stray projectiles, has been declared a no-go zone by NGOs.</p><p>“We decided to stay because there was no other place to go,” he adds.</p><p>Is he the last humanitarian worker there? “Well not quite. There are four of us in the team,” he smiles. The workload has become immense as the situation in the village deteriorates. Only two of five waterpoints are still functioning.</p><p>“Some people are drinking water from the swamps. Many of us are suffering from diseases. There have been many cases of diarrhoea and people have been dying. I cannot say exactly how many, but let me say this: people are dying all the time.”</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/chuol_hygiene-promoter_cholera_south-sudan-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="1" data-fid="10852" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>Chuol, Oxfam Hygiene Promoter for Cholera, South Sudan.</em></p><p>Chuol spends his weeks going from house-to-house and school-to-school, giving practical advice to keep diseases away. He grits his teeth: “We have seen some good changes in habits, but there is still more to do. We must keep going.”</p><p>He and his team are facing an exceptionally difficult task, but without them, the situation of their people would be even worse.</p><p>Back at the borehole, Gatkuoth is still being thanked by people gathered around the water pump, but he acknowledges that he, Thokuang and Chuol face an overwhelming task: “Maybe I will train all of my children – the boys and the girls – to be pump mechanics if they want to be! I hope they do. I want people to look at them the same way that communities look at me.”</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/gatkuoth_plumber-portrait_south-sudan-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="2" data-fid="10853" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>This entry posted by Tim Bierley, Information &amp; Communications Officer, Oxfam in South Sudan, on 22 March 2018. All photos: Tim Bierley/Oxfam.</em></p><p><em><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Oxfam and our partners are working across South Sudan</a> to provide life-saving clean water and promote awareness of the key ways in which disease can be stopped from spreading. </em></p><p><em>Ongoing projects include drilling and repairing boreholes, training pump mechanics like Gatkuoth to keep them in shape, digging latrines and training health promoters to lead on disease prevention in their communities, wherever they go. Oxfam's work in Buong is carried out with the support of UK Aid and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>The people&#039;s humanitarians of South Sudan: Saving lives on the front line</h2></div> Thu, 22 Mar 2018 17:02:12 +0000 Tim Bierley 81449 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-22-peoples-humanitarians-south-sudan-saving-lives-front-line#comments Yemen: The struggle to reach aid in the world's worst cholera outbreak http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-10-23-yemen-struggle-reach-aid-worlds-worst-cholera-outbreak <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>Yemen’s cholera outbreak has killed at least 2,177 people since 27 April. The World Health Organization now estimates the number of suspected cholera cases to be over 862,000, as of 22 October, making Yemen’s outbreak the world’s worst on record. In Haiti, as of 27 September last month, the WHO had recorded 813,026 suspected cases since 2010. Oxfam Public Health Promoter, Eva Niederberger, reports back on how challenging it is to reach cholera-affected people in Yemen.</em></p><h3>The cholera outbreak is widespread</h3><p>It’s more than 45 degrees C outside and I’m listening to Sameera, a pregnant woman living in Abs city. The city is located in Hajjah governorate, North of Yemen and has been severely affected by the current cholera outbreak.</p><p>Sameera tells me about her experience when her husband got infected by cholera few weeks ago. Her husband started to vomit and suffer from diarrhea shortly after having taken his cholera-affected relative to a public hospital. He soon took Oral Rehydration Salt, essential to prevent further dehydration, but his condition continued to worsen.</p><p>“I was really worried and not sure how I could protect myself of cholera whilst taking care of my sick husband. Luckily some of Oxfam’s volunteers were there to answer my questions and advised me what to do,” she explained.</p><p>Both Sameera and her husband didn’t trust the treatment available at the public hospital and decided to go to a private clinic. A few days later, Sameera’s husband recovered but the treatment costs had worsened their already precarious financial situation: before moving to Abs, Sameera was working as a teacher in Taiz and hadn’t been paid for several months. Her husband currently has no income either.</p><p><img alt="Badriyah Abdullah, 38 years old, is surrounded by her husband and children as she fights cholera. Photo: Abs, Hajjah – Ahmed Al-Fadeel/Oxfam" title="Badriyah Abdullah, 38 years old, is surrounded by her family as she fights cholera. Photo: Abs, Hajjah – Ahmed Al-Fadeel/Oxfam" height="827" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/eva-blog2-patient-bed-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Badriyah Abdullah, 38 years old, is surrounded by her husband and children as she fights cholera. A dozen members of her family got infected with the disease.&nbsp;Photo: Ahmed Al-Fadeel/Oxfam, Abs health center in Hajjah</em></p><h3>The need for better awareness</h3><p><strong>Trust in the given treatment options is critical</strong> for families when they have to decide whether to send a sick family member to the hospital or not – and ultimately save lives in a cholera outbreak. Equally important are traditions, habits and access to treatment. For example, a few days later I am with our public health team in Amran governorate which has to date more than 84,000 suspected cholera cases, counting 170 deaths.</p><p>We are trying to understand better how to motivate people to provide early rehydration to sick family members and refer them to a treatment centre if the condition doesn’t improve – both very important factors to reduce and prevent further epidemic spread.</p><p>We soon figure out that in some areas people would first rely on natural remedies – in few cases this helped patients; in others it delayed effective rehydration and risked to worsen people’s condition.&nbsp;</p><p>The provision of natural treatment is something which people would often do for less severe health issues: fever, stomach pain, diarrhea or headache. Since the cholera outbreak though, an increased number of affected people are now aware of the importance of oral rehydration salt (ORS). Weam, Oxfam’s Public Health Promotion Officer, tells me that there were four cholera cases in this village and that one man has died because of it.</p><p>“Therefore people here fear to get infected by cholera and try to do as much as they can to prevent it,” she said. However, in many cases ORS is not available in the local market, or people do not have the money to pay for transportation to travel to the market in the first place.</p><p><img alt="Zaid Ameen, 3 months old, is being treated for cholera in Abs health center in Hajjah. Photo:: Al-Fadeel/Oxfam" title="Zaid Ameen, 3 months old, is being treated for cholera in Abs health center in Hajjah. Photo:: Al-Fadeel/Oxfam" height="827" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/eva-blog3-baby-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Zaid Ameen, 3 months old, is being treated for cholera in Abs health center in Hajjah. Photo:: Al-Fadeel/Oxfam</em></p><h3>Difficulty to access treatment</h3><p><strong></strong>In both governorates, Amran and Hajjah, we also know that more lives could have been saved if treatment could have been brought closer to affected communities. For example in Al-Wadi village, close to Khamer city in Amran, people tell me that they have to sell the few remaining assets they have, such a jewellery or traditional daggers, to take a sick family member to the treatment center. Others are getting into debt.</p><p>Already in early June 2017, when <strong>over 400 cases per day</strong> were reported at MSF’s&nbsp; treatment center in Abs, their staff told me that there was an urgent need to support the set-up of oral rehydration points where people could quickly access rehydration - and if required being then referred for further treatment. But the response has been slow, hampered by getting customs clearance for supplies from abroad, the lack of critical items in the local market, and inconsistent approval processes to move material across the country.</p><p>In addition,<strong> access to highly affected communities remains a real challenge</strong>. For example, in Haradh district most of the people have fled due to the ongoing conflict but there are still almost 50,000 people who are in need of urgent assistance. However the risk that aid distributions and other assistance will be targeted by airstrikes is too high to be able to provide direct support. This makes it very difficult to get security clearances or travel permits to the area.</p><p>In other areas, access is only granted after long negotiations with different stakeholders - and even then not consistently guaranteed. Our teams try to develop creative solutions and help as best as they can. For example they work closely with the Ministry of Health to identify community health workers who could be engaged in the cholera response. These people are then trained in an accessible location to promote preventive measures back in their communities. They are further provided with chlorine sachets to make water safe for drinking as well as testing equipment to ensure the quality of treated water.</p><h3>Ensuring clean water</h3><p><strong>Yemen is a water scarce country</strong> and the lack of access to safe water the primary infection source of the ongoing cholera outbreak.</p><p>In Bani Hassan, an IDP camp in Hajjah district, I meet with Mohammed, one of Oxfam’s volunteers. He tells me that five years ago he was already volunteering with Oxfam back in Haradh but then had to flee from the conflict. Since the cholera outbreak, one of his main tasks involves the water quality testing. “Every day I follow-up to understand whether the water delivered by the network is safe for drinking. I test the water quality of the communal tanks and also in some households.”</p><p>I ask him whether people agree that he comes to their tent for water testing. “People know me here very well and they trust me.”</p><p><img alt="Oxfam has rehabilitated water chambers and latrines in various hospitals, treatment centers and other health facilities. Photo::Omar Algunaid/Oxfam, Aden" title="Oxfam has rehabilitated water chambers and latrines in various hospitals, treatment centers and other health facilities. Photo::Omar Algunaid/Oxfam, Aden" height="827" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="3" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/eva-blog4-axfam-equipment-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Oxfam has rehabilitated water chambers and latrines in Al Gomhoriah Hospital in Al Mu’allaa, as well as in Diarrhea Treatment Centers and several other health facilities. Photo::Omar Algunaid/Oxfam,&nbsp; Aden</em></p><h3>Oxfam is there</h3><p>In some of those inaccessible areas people have mobile phones and there is network, and our Public Health team created a WhatsApp group with a wide network of volunteers. These volunteers often send pictures to document their activities and/or inform about new cases. Our teams check in with them on a daily basis to respond to different queries, take up the case notification to epidemiological units within the districts, and provide technical advice in line with health risks fostering the epidemic spread.</p><p>This was the third time that I travelled to Yemen to support Oxfam’s humanitarian program: in 2011 our public health program looked at the increasing rates of malnutrition resulting from the economical and political crisis and increasing poverty levels. I returned in 2015, a few months after the escalation of the conflict, working on access to water, hygiene and sanitation in Taiz - an area heavily affected by ongoing fighting, which cut off over 100,000 people from desperately needed aid.</p><p>Two years later the situation has worsened again with the world's worst cholera outbreak, on the top of a war torn country.</p><p><em>This entry posted on 23 October 2017, by Eva Niederberger, Oxfam Public Health Promotion Adviser, who spent three weeks in Yemen.</em></p><p><em><em><em>Oxfam is <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-yemen" rel="nofollow">delivering essential aid</a> in both the north and south of Yemen, and since 2015 we have reached 1.2 million people across the frontlines.</em></em></em></p><p><em><em>Photo at top: Ahmed Ali sits next to his son Qassem*, 5 years old, who was already suffering from malnutrition, epilepsy, and inability to speak, and now cholera. Credit: Abs, Hajjah – Ahmed Al-Fadeel/Oxfam Yemen</em></em></p><h3>What you can do now</h3><p><strong>Donate to <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-yemen" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's Yemen Crisis Appeal</a></strong></p><p><strong>Read more <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/tags/yemen">blogs on Oxfam in Yemen</a></strong></p><p><em>&nbsp;</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Yemen: The struggle to reach aid in the world&#039;s worst cholera outbreak</h2></div> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 17:19:29 +0000 Eva Niederberger 81261 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-10-23-yemen-struggle-reach-aid-worlds-worst-cholera-outbreak#comments Yemen: The story of a war-affected people, strong in the face of adversity http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-06-12-yemen-story-war-affected-people-strong-face-adversity <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>A moving first-hand account of the effects of the terrible conflict Yemen has been suffering for the past few years, but a call to remain hopeful, however, that peace will arise after the war’s darkness. This entry posted by Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, Oxfam Yemen’s Country Director, on 12 June 2017.</em></p><p><strong>As the sun rises, covering the rocky mountains with a coat of gold, we are welcomed to Yemen by fishermen and dolphins jumping out of the blue water.</strong> <br><br>After a 14-hour boat journey from Djibouti, the view of Aden city in the early morning was a magical sight. At first, life in the city looked normal: road dividers were freshly painted, people were chatting while sipping red tea or having breakfast in small restaurants, youth were playing pool in the streets, and taxis were shouting to collect their passengers. However, as we moved in the city, buildings riddled with bullet holes appeared, several residential areas and hotels had their roof collapsed, and cars were waiting in long queues for petrol. <br><br>This tableau of contrasts was telling the story of Aden.<br><br>The second day after our arrival, we travelled to Lahj with the Aden team. Our conversation kept switching between the work Oxfam does in Aden and other Southern governorates, and the destruction passing before our eyes, a terrible witness of the conflict Yemen has been suffering for the past few years.</p><h3>Oxfam is there</h3><p>In such a volatile and insecure environment, <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-yemen" rel="nofollow">Oxfam continues to provide</a> water, improved sanitation and basic hygiene assistance to more than 130,000 affected individuals in Lahj governorate. The team sometimes travels for more than two to three hours to reach the target location. Community engagement is thus key to deliver assistance. Our staff along with community based volunteers consults affected community as well as key leaders to identify the intervention. The affected community not only participates in water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion activities, but also works closely with host communities to ensure that social harmony is maintained. &nbsp;<br><br>In Lahj, the focus is to rebuild the water supply system to help both displaced persons as well as local communities, and Oxfam works with the local water and sanitation authority to ensure the sustainability and viability of the rehabilitated system. Displaced people in these areas used to collect water only once in a week because of the long distances they had to walk to reach the wells. Now, both IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and host communities can access water on daily basis.</p><p>Meeting community members made clear that war has impacted everyone, and they all share their grief and pain and support each other. The strong bonding between displaced people and host communities despite their high level of hardship also indicates that Yemeni people have come a long way through several wars and conflict and are therefore more resilient.</p><p><img alt="Water tank built by Oxfam in Al-Jalilah village, in Al-Dhale governorate. Credit: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam, March 2017" title="Water tank built by Oxfam in Al-Jalilah village, in Al-Dhale governorate. Credit: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam, March 2017" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/img_4753-water-tower-1240.jpg" /></p><h3>Hunger is rampant</h3><p>The impact of war and conflict in Aden and surrounding governorates is very high. More than two million people were affected since the beginning of the crisis. Food insecurity in Lahj, Abyan and Al Dhale is rising and remain among the governorates in Yemen with high food assistance need. <br><br>The tragedy and suffering of Abdullah, a 70-year-old man who had to flee Abyan during the peak of the war, speaks for itself. However, he does believe that peace will return back to Yemen, but to survive, he had to mortgage his pension card to feed his family. There are many invisible people like him who probably would like to see peace come back to Yemen so their impoverished lives can improve.</p><h3>Displacement crisis</h3><p>Tough host communities initially provided spaces to displaced persons, but in addition now, displaced people have started settling down in barren land areas on their own. Those who managed to return back to their original location are now severely impacted by a cholera outbreak. Lack of provision of salaries to government employees have further added burden to the households who host displaced families. Water, food assistance and healthcare remain the top three priorities. Hardship has reached to a threshold where affected people are willing to mortgage anything and everything they can. Basic services and utilities including water, education and health have been halted to a greater extent and therefore increasing stress on affected communities.</p><p></p><p><img alt="Oxfam Yemen Country Director, Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, visits the pumping room in Al-Roweed village, as part of the water project Oxfam implemented in the area. Credit: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam" title="Oxfam Yemen Country Director, Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, visits the pumping room in Al-Roweed village, as part of the water project Oxfam implemented in the area. Credit: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/sajid-roweed-1240.jpg" /></p><h3>Fighting cholera</h3><p>Saleema* is community health volunteer who works with Oxfam and is a true agent for change. She raises awareness with the affected communities on the importance of clean and safe water.&nbsp; She visits houses and speaks to women, elders and young girls to ensure key health messages are understood and applied. Increasing numbers of youth, such as Saleema, support affected communities to rebuild their lives and to help build social cohesion.&nbsp;</p><p>Last year when a <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=6&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjk0Pjcv8LUAhXmAMAKHau4B4wQFghUMAU&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fworld-middle-east-40200017&amp;usg=AFQjCNFsabtoiG2t_57FBhuqIWm2Cx3Hyw&amp;sig2=jtJ9O0LotgG8yGKOyleoLg" rel="nofollow">cholera outbreak</a> was declared in Yemen, Aden was one of the governorates among others like Al-Hudaydah where most suspected cases were registered.</p><h3>Resilience in the face of darkness</h3><p>As we returned from Lahj, the smell and taste of Mindi (local chicken meal with rice) and mouth watering local paratha (wheat based chapati) reminded us that that Yemeni people’s resilience had also stood strong in the face of adversity.</p><p>As the Apollo boat finally departed Aden after sunset, with the noise of waves gushing in and the dark smudging in, we remembered that a beautiful sunrise would welcome us upon arrival, in a similar way that humanitarian needs in Aden and surrounding governorates continue to grow. We remain hopeful, however, that peace will arise after the war’s darkness.</p><p><em>This entry posted by Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, <a href="https://twitter.com/oxfamyemen" rel="nofollow">Oxfam Yemen</a>’s Country Director, on 12 June 2017.</em><br><em>*Name changed to protect identity.</em></p><p><em>Yemen is in the grip of a runaway cholera epidemic that is killing one person nearly every hour and if not contained will threaten the lives of thousands of people in the coming months. We're calling for a massive aid effort and an immediate ceasefire to allow health and aid workers to tackle the outbreak.</em></p><p><em><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-yemen" rel="nofollow"><strong>Please donate to Oxfam's Yemen Appeal</strong></a><br></em></p><p><em><strong><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/search/node/yemen">Read more blogs on Yemen</a><br></strong></em></p><p><em>Photos:<br></em></p><ul><li><em>Ghodrah and Taqeyah fill their jerrycans from the Oxfam water distribution point in Al-Dukm village, Lahj governorate. Credit: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam, April 2017</em></li><li><em>Water tank built by Oxfam in Al-Jalilah village, in Al-Dhale governorate. Credit: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam, March 2017</em></li><li><em>Oxfam Yemen Country Director, Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, visits the pumping room in Al-Roweed village, as part of the water project Oxfam implemented in the area. Also there, Al-Melah district Manager and members of the water management committee. Credit: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam, February 2017</em></li></ul></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Yemen: The story of a war-affected people, strong in the face of adversity</h2></div> Mon, 12 Jun 2017 13:07:42 +0000 Guest Blogger 81103 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-06-12-yemen-story-war-affected-people-strong-face-adversity#comments The deadly trail of Hurricane Matthew http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-10-25-deadly-trail-hurricane-matthew <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>Blog post written by María José Agejas, media and communications officer at Oxfam Intermón (Spain)</em></p> <p>Jean Robert looks around, still unable to believe his eyes. ‘I never saw anything like it, the speed of it. Truly terrible.’ </p> <p>The school is in the little village of Torbeck, where Hurricane Matthew caused 18 deaths. Hardly any schools or health centres have been left standing in the areas hardest hit by the hurricane where, according to Oxfam’s country director for Haiti, Damien Berrendorf, the damage to infrastructure is comparable to that caused by the 2010 earthquale.</p> <p><img alt="A school in the Haitian village of Torbeck that has been destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. Numerous school and health centers have been totally or partially destroyed by the hurricane. Fran Afonso/Oxfam Intermón" title="A school in the Haitian village of Torbeck that has been destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. Numerous school and health centers have been totally or partially destroyed by the hurricane. Fran Afonso/Oxfam Intermón" height="762" width="1220" typeof="Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/haiti-hurricane-xfamoes_32847_-lpr_-web_1220x762.jpg" /></p> <p>As we continue along the same road, which goes from Les Cayes to Port Salut, Berrendorf’s words are shown to be true. Not a single house is unscathed. Some have lost thier roofs, but many others, even those built of concrete blocks, have been reduced to rubble. All the electricity posts are lying on the ground, submerged in lakes that have formed where crops once stood. In an area where 80% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, the first immediate consequence is hunger.</p> <p>In this region, hunger is not lurking around the corner: it has been here from day one. With their houses flooded and their crops lost, many people who live from day to day without savings have absolutely nothing to eat or with which to feed their children.</p> <p>‘We have nothing, absolutely nothing,’ says Senita Terbil,a 26-year-old mother of two. Her house was built of concrete blocks. Now it looks as if a bulldozer has flattened  it. She has lost her home, her vegetable patch and her animals. ‘We’d like to replant the vegetable garden, but we don’t have the means to do it. We have no seeds or tolos.’ Her husband has built them a makeshift shelter out of sheets of corrugated iron. Inside, her sister-in-law is lying in bed. A tree fell on her, leaving her with a broken arm and leg, both of which are wrapped in torn sheets. She has no money to see a doctor.</p> <p><strong>A tourist destination reduced to rubble</strong></p> <p>We carry on towards the eastern tip of the island, the point where Matthew made landfall. We are in the Département du Sud, which together with Grand’Anse, was the administrative regionhit hardest by the hurricane. According to the United Nations, 750,000 people in this region need emergency aid. Port Salut was one of Haiti’s prettiest towns: a tourist destination, bordered by blue sea, butits colonial-era hotelswere unable to withstand Matthew’s onslaught. The bridge across the river in the town center has disappeared. Everywhere residents are trying, machetes in hand, to chop away trees thathave fallen on their houses, and hauling mattresses and clothing outside to dry in the sun, which came out again once the hurricane had passed.</p> <p><img alt=" Fran Afonso/Oxfam " height="533" width="800" typeof="Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/oes_33027_-scr.jpg" /></p> <p>Further inland, in the emergency shelter set up at the town hall in Camp Perrin, children try to forget their hunger by running about and clustering round the foreign visitors, while once again we meet the same incredulous expressions when we go over to talk with the adults. ‘</p> <p>Yes, we heard the message on the radio and television. We alsoreceived a text message on our mobiles,’ explains Germaine Cheri, 52, a widowed mother of ten.‘But in Haiti hurricane warnings are sometimes issued for what turns out to be only rain. We thought there would just be rain, but this time the hurricane came when we were sleeping and swept everything away, and then we saw it was another story altogether.’</p> <p>Germaine Cheri has lost everything. ‘I have nothing, not even food to give my children. We’ve lost everything that was in the house: our bed, our clothes. All I have is what I am wearing, nothing more.’</p> <p>Standing nearby,37-year-old Bernadette Julien echoes Germaine’s story almost word for word: ‘All I have left are my children and the clothes I’m standing in. The house is completely destroyed. I have nothing to give my children.’Bernadette is eight months pregnant with her eighth child.</p> <p><strong>The thread of cholera</strong></p> <p>Case after case illustrates the tragic reality of this hurricane. Clearly, there will be many more deaths in the short and medium term than those caused by the wind and rain. Not just because of crop losses, but also because there will very probably be another outbreak of cholera, a disease linked to dirty water and poor hygiene that is already claiming lives in the affected areas. </p> <p>Cholera was introduced into Haiti in 2010, after the earthquake by UN peacekeepimg forces. According to the Haitian government, 10,000 people have died since then and a total of 800,000 have had the disease. <strong>One of Oxfam’s first tasks has been to distribute hygiene kits and install tanks of clean water in some of the areas affected by the hurricane, to prevent an all too likely further outbreak of cholera.</strong></p> <p>Crop losses, destruction of infrastructure of every type, from schools to bridges, diseases linked to water pollution... and a population already living on the brink, without a safety net, even before Matthew’s passage. Unless an adequate response is planned to avoid repeating past errors, the hurricane will leave a long trail of death behind it, warns Oxfam. There is a huge need for earthquake and hurricane-proof rebuilding strategies, proper urban planning and a thorough study of  risk prevention.</p> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/haiti-hurricane-response" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>You can help</strong></a></h3> <p>After Hurricane Matthew thousands of families are homeless and without access to clean water and sanitation in Haiti. We are there delivering water purification kits and construction materials. <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/haiti-hurricane-response" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">We urgently need your help to do more.</a></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>The deadly trail of Hurricane Matthew</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/16-10-26-la-larga-cola-del-hurac%C3%A1n-matthew" title="La larga cola del huracán Matthew" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 25 Oct 2016 14:18:24 +0000 Guest Blogger 67434 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-10-25-deadly-trail-hurricane-matthew#comments Refugee crisis: what’s the European fuss about? http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-09-25-refugee-crisis-whats-european-fuss-about <div class="field field-name-body"><p>“What is wrong with Europe?” This is the question I’m constantly asked as I travel around Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo visiting Oxfam's humanitarian and development programs. Indeed, every night on TV, people here see images of a heavily divided Europe, unable to cope with the arrival of more than 500,000 refugees and other migrants equivalent to less than 0.1% of the European Union’s population of over 500 million people.</p> <p>There are 28 countries in the <a href="http://europa.eu/about-eu/countries/index_en.htm">European Union</a> —most with national per capita incomes that far exceed those of most African countries—yet on TV people here see barbed wired fences and police charging against desperate families. And they here the remarks of our European politicians heartlessly referring to quotas.</p> <p>In Northern Uganda, a colleague from a local humanitarian organization politely asks me the same question: “What is going on in Europe?!” Around us, refugee settlements host almost 200,000 South Sudanese refugees, who fled here when civil war erupted in South Sudan in December 2013. Uganda has a total refugee population of almost 700,000 representing more than 1.8% of the population of 37.5 million people.</p> <p><strong>Here in Northern Uganda there is no barbed wire</strong>, and no police barriers. Instead, large plots of land were prepared for settlements. Materials for the construction of simple huts were delivered, and local and international NGOs provided support and expertise. All of this under the strict supervision of the Office of the Prime Minister.</p> <p>There were—and still are—many challenges. One sensitive issue is the level of services provided to refugees compared to what is available for the local population. Northern Uganda is one of the poorest regions in Africa, still recovering from the terror of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which resulted in the displacement of 1.5 million North Ugandans. Today, even basic services like drinking water, health care, and education are of poor quality, and it often takes hours for the people to get there. It is not fair, some say, when refugees are provided with drinking water and schools while nothing improves for the local population.</p> <p><strong>In order to prevent tensions </strong>between the local population and refugees, Uganda adopted a special law: a third of the money spent on aid should go to the local population. A great example of how both groups can benefit from aid is a highly innovative water-treatment plant, set up by Oxfam and our local partner <a href="http://www.ceford.org.ug/">CEFORD</a>, in the Rhino Camp area near Arua. At the plant, a solar-powered system pumps water from over 100 meters deep and distributes it through miles of water hoses to both refugee settlements and local communities. Dozens of water points, hundreds of water taps. Oxfam and CEFORD employed both refugees and locals to build the plant and dig the trenches for the water hoses, providing families with incomes that make them less dependent on food aid, and helped them regain their self-determination and dignity.</p> <p>Lucy Alomo, a 35-year-old mother told me about the violence still raging in South Sudan, saying bluntly, "I know I will not return home for a long time." She tells me she hopes to save some money from crop revenues, and, some day, to start a business. Lucy’s five-year-old son Attak will go to school here in Uganda, and one day he will likely try to find a scarce job, like so many Ugandan youth will do.</p> <p>Yet there is no hate speech for them in Northern Uganda.</p> <p><strong>“So what is wrong with Europe?” </strong>I’m asked. And when I am not able to give a proper answer, I'm ashamed. I'm shocked to see the developments in Europe from afar. Europe, and indeed the whole international community, has often looked away from refugee crises—be they in Africa, or for the past five years, in Syria and its neighboring countries.</p> <p>It is, of course, a tragic reality of our world: global media are on top of every new crisis, but they leave as fast as they arrive, on to the next news story. And once a spotlight is gone, the funds for assistance to refugees dry up. The global political will to fund aid, take political and diplomatic measures, or to intervene, quickly evaporates, and the result is more human suffering, continued violence, and despair for the millions of people who are trapped in the conflicts of <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan">South Sudan</a>, <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis">Syria</a>, <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/yemen">Yemen</a>, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. Neighboring, often poor, countries <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/what-does-it-feel-be-refugee-perceptions-syrian-refugees-jordan-and-beyond">carry the burden of these crises</a>, and to make things worse, European countries respond by cutting aid budgets for the poorest and most vulnerable.<br /> <br /><strong>There is still great promise and hope</strong> for a better future among the millions of refugees like Lucy and Attak. We should learn from them and Northern Uganda that it is not about how much one can afford to share, but how much one is willing to share.</p> <p>And so, I ask you: what is wrong with Europe?</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en" xml:lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr" xml:lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/refugeeswelcome?src=hash">#refugeeswelcome</a> in Tanzania: We're providing water + sanitation in western Tanzania for 50,000 Burundian refugees <a href="http://t.co/sjQujxbGLk">pic.twitter.com/sjQujxbGLk</a></p> <p>— Oxfam Ireland (@OxfamIreland) <a href="https://twitter.com/OxfamIreland/status/643397755071762433">September 14, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async="" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><em>This entry posted by Farah Karimi (<a href="http://twitter.com/Farah_Karimi">@Farah_Karimi</a>), Executive Director, Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), on 25 September 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Photo: Camp for internally displaced people, Juba, South Sudan, May 2014. More than 4 million people remain in urgent need in <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan">South Sudan</a></strong> following the conflict that broke out in December 2013. Over 2 million people have fled their homes and sought refuge within South Sudan or in neighboring countries. Oxfam has reached more than 920,000 people affected by this crisis with life-saving essentials. Credit: Keiran Doherty/Oxfam</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <ul><li><strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-syria">Support Oxfam's Syria Crisis Appeal</a></strong></li> <li><a href="http://donazioni.oxfamitalia.org/helpmigrants.html"><strong>Support Oxfam Italia's Migrant Crisis Appeal </strong></a></li> </ul><h3>You may also like</h3> <p><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-09-05-global-migration-crisis-time-solidarity"><strong>Global migration crisis: A time for solidarity</strong></a></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Refugee crisis: what’s the European fuss about?</h2></div> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 13:54:02 +0000 Farah Karimi 27754 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-09-25-refugee-crisis-whats-european-fuss-about#comments Embracing the spirit of Vanuatu, 3 months after Cyclone Pam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-06-12-embracing-spirit-vanuatu-3-months-after-cyclone-pam <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>This entry posted by Colin Collett van Rooyen (<a href="http://twitter.com/Colincvr" rel="nofollow">@Colincvr</a>), Country Director for Oxfam in Vanuatu, on 12 June 2015.</em></p> <p>About three months ago, on the morning of 14 March 2015, I opened the door of my home in Port Vila slowly, not sure what I would see outside after Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam had screeched its way across our beautiful Vanuatu. At the time I thought, <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-03-15-cyclone-pam-eyewitness-report-oxfam-country-director-vanuatu">and wrote</a>, that our world would be quite different out there. And it was. My first impression was of the physical devastation. My second (just a few minutes later) was that somehow we now had a cat in our garden! The phrase “raining cats and dogs” came to mind. We named it “Cat Five” and took care of it, but that’s another story for another day.</p> <p>None of us in Vanuatu could imagine what a Category 5 cyclone would do to Vanuatu. Our Oxfam team tried to. We had to prepare and work with our partner organizations to prepare for something, the impact of which we were really not sure of as the country had little experience of a cyclone of this magnitude. None of us were too sure about how we and the whole of Vanuatu would respond to whatever Pam did to our country and people.</p> <p>Only a few minutes out of my home’s door, I had a good sense of both. Large parts of Vanuatu had been devastated. It was, quite simply, bad. Pam had been cruel to our country in many ways. She had ripped large pieces of it to shreds leaving it looking naked and fragile; and leaving many of us feeling that way too. Pam had killed mercifully few for the magnitude of her force. But the people of Vanuatu were already out there, taking control of their own fate, making sure that Pam’s “control” was not allowed to settle over us or hold us back for a moment longer than it could.</p> <h3>In the aftermath of Cyclone Pam</h3> <p>In the early days after Pam, we only had ourselves to rely on. The outside world was cut away; and most of the many beautiful islands that make up Vanuatu were isolated from each other too. This didn’t stop families, friends, communities, organizations, government departments and our amazing team of Oxfamers just getting down to work and starting to make things better in whatever way possible. It was amazing to watch and an incredible privilege to be part of. Like the rest of Vanuatu, our Oxfam team emerged safely, a little dazed and tired, but ready to get on with whatever needed to be done.</p> <p>Much has been said of the <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-03-20-strength-human-spirit-after-cyclone-pam-slams-vanuatu">amazing Vanuatu response</a> across all forms of media and in early pieces of research. Resilience was what people called it as soon as they could give it a name. That label, for me, quickly became too commonly used — taking away the “something special” that I felt and saw happening in Vanuatu. But what else could it have been? I searched my (very tired) brain for other ways to describe it, to give it a title which had a deeper sense of specialness for me. No luck. And then I looked at synonyms for resilience and there hidden among terms such as elasticity, buoyancy, hardiness and toughness was a word that fitted better: spirit. A simple term, but one which captured the essence of what I was seeing and feeling among our Oxfam team and the general population — a spirit that was strong, positive, realistic, practical under stress and located somewhere deep in the fabric of the people of Vanuatu, deep in their culture and traditions, deep in their hearts and minds.</p> <p><img alt="Zaki shows his house, damaged after Cyclone Pam. Pang Pang Village, Efate Island, Shefa Province, Vanuatu. 1 June 2015" title="Zaki shows his house, damaged after Cyclone Pam. Pang Pang Village, Efate Island, Shefa Province, Vanuatu. 1 June 2015" height="828" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/80137lpr-zaki-house-1240.jpg" /></p> <p><strong>Three months on and this sprit has done, and keeps doing, amazing things.</strong> And it is everywhere. Thanks to the amazing support of people across the world, we were able to launch a solid response to Cyclone Pam. Our team has grown, as has our work at Oxfam. While the initial “surge” needed us to bring in specialist skills from across the world, we have also been able to tap into the amazing spirit and talent of the people of Vanuatu.</p> <p>I have worked with and watched young Ni-Vanuatu people new to Oxfam absorb the Oxfam values — that are so central to what we do — with ease and enthusiasm. Likewise, I am experiencing Oxfam learn and grow from the spirit of these young people — a deeply valuable and rewarding exchange and a privilege; an unanticipated gift from Pam.</p> <h3>Oxfam’s response then, now and in the future</h3> <p>We have done much. Our <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-04-02-journey-ambrym-oxfam-aid-delivery-vanuatu">Oxfam teams provided life-saving emergency water to communities</a> directly after Pam struck. We have built new longer-term relationships in our recovery work, some with remote communities on small islands. On Epi Island, Oxfam teams were the first to arrive in some communities and provided much needed emergency supplies, and, importantly, a sense that the world out there cared for them. We have continued our work there and on Efate Island.</p> <p><img alt="Oxfam water tanks being loaded onto Greenpeace&#039;s Rainbow Warrior at Port-Vila, Vanuatu. 30 May 2015 Photo: Groovy Banana/OxfamAUS" title="Oxfam water tanks being loaded onto Greenpeace&#039;s Rainbow Warrior at Port-Vila, Vanuatu. 30 May 2015 Photo: Groovy Banana/OxfamAUS" height="449" width="300" style="float: right;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/80109lpr-rainbow-warrior-loading-oxfam-tanks-300.jpg" /><strong>Our expert skills in technical water system restoration</strong> have done amazing things, as has our pioneering work in emergency food security, livelihoods and public health and hygiene education. Our partners too have worked hard with us to engage in all of this work. Always making sure that gender, protection of vulnerable community members and sound monitoring, evaluation, learning and accountability mechanisms are core to whatever we do. Together with this, the incredible work that has gone into our coordination role of the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team has been recognized as significant in the response to Cyclone Pam.</p> <p>Our work has reached beyond Vanuatu too. In the wake of Cyclone Pam, people have made the links between <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-03-18-disappointment-sendai-why-fight-strong-and-accountable-action-disaster-risk-reduction">severe weather events and climate change</a>, and across the Pacific, we are redoubling calls for stronger international action on climate change. We have realized that without this action, we risk a future of worsening extreme weather events including more intense cyclones for the Pacific.</p> <h3>The lessons that Vanuatu will teach us</h3> <p>Today I look out over Port Vila, from our offices on the hill above the bay, and it is clear that the land is responding to the spirit — healing itself and sharing this with the rest of the world. The green is returning, plants are growing, flowers are dotting the place with tentative color, markets are reopening, homes are being rebuilt, smiles are getting bigger and children are at school again.</p> <p>Gone are the constant sounds of chain saws cutting away at the trees that fell across our roads and buildings. Gone too are the clouds and smells of heavy smoke that hung across the city when people could only dispose of the debris by burning it. The warped and crushed metal of roofs have been cleared, signs are back up and shattered windows replaced. The harbor is no longer silent, and likewise the airport — we hear the horns of the boats and ships, see their twinkling lights again at night, and hear the flights come in and out of the airport almost as they used to.</p> <p>Somehow, these have become good sounds. Businesses are rebuilding and customers and tourists are returning to enjoy our special place on the planet. Lessons are being learnt and shared, government is working to respond in ways they consider best, and donors, local not-for-profit agencies and international agencies such as Oxfam are doing whatever they can to support. It is an amazing journey.</p> <p>Of course, all of this will be documented in research and evaluation reports. Pages of paper. Some of the work will be critiqued and some applauded depending on the time and audience. This is all normal in the cycle of events after a cyclone of this magnitude. But through these formal processes we should never lose sight of that special spirit, the simple (but, at the same time complex and often elusive) “something special” that has carried us to the point we are at, and will carry Vanuatu beyond this point too.</p> <p>As the anniversaries of Cyclone Pam come and go we need to continue to embrace the spirit we have experienced; the spirit that has always and will always be at the core of what makes Vanuatu and her people get up, dust themselves off and get on with life in such amazing ways. I said in the early days that there were lessons for the world in this — there have been and will be. Watch this space!   </p> <p><strong>Oxfam has reached 21,278 people in more than 50 communities on three islands since Tropical Cyclone Pam struck on 13 March 2015. Read more about <a href="https://www.oxfam.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Cyclone-Pam-June_Update_3MTHS_FINAL-APPROVED.pdf" rel="nofollow">Oxfam’s work in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam</a> and see your donations in action.</strong></p> <p><img alt="Oxfam Cyclone Pam update, 11 June 2015" title="Oxfam Cyclone Pam update, 11 June 2015" height="965" width="1365" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/cyclone-pam-update-11june2015.png" /></p> <p><em>Photos - all credit: Groovy Banana/OxfamAUS</em></p> <ul><li><em>Stella (left) and Chantal wait for their turn to get a voucher. Eton Village, Efate Island, Vanuatu. 1 June 2015</em></li> <li><em>Zaki shows his house, damaged after Cyclone Pam. Pang Pang Village, Efate Island, Shefa Province, Vanuatu. 1 June 2015</em></li> <li><em>Oxfam water tanks being loaded onto Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior at Port-Vila, Vanuatu. 30 May 2015</em></li> </ul><h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><strong><a href="http://oxf.am/ZAzr" rel="nofollow">Act on climate change right now</a></strong></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-05-18-wake-cyclone-pam-ambitious-climate-change-action-vital-2015"><strong>In the wake of Cyclone Pam, ambitious climate change action is vital in 2015</strong></a></p> <p><a href="http://oxf.am/ZAzr" rel="nofollow"><strong>Why the fight for strong and accountable action on disaster risk reduction is now more important than ever</strong></a></p> <p><strong><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-05-18-wake-cyclone-pam-ambitious-climate-change-action-vital-2015">Celebrating female climate change fighters</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Embracing the spirit of Vanuatu, 3 months after Cyclone Pam</h2></div> Fri, 12 Jun 2015 13:13:13 +0000 Guest Blogger 27127 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-06-12-embracing-spirit-vanuatu-3-months-after-cyclone-pam#comments Oxfam training community health volunteers after Nepal Earthquake http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-05-22-oxfam-training-community-health-volunteers-after-nepal-earthquake <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Providing water and sanitation, and public health promotion to help communities stay safe, are key parts of Oxfam's Nepal Earthquake response. Here Genevive Estacaan explains how Oxfam is training community health volunteers in Tundikhel camp, Kathmandu.</strong></p> <p>It's been four weeks since the worst earthquake Nepal has seen for 81 years. Another devastating earthquake struck on the 12th May. Tragically, more than 8,000 people have been killed and around 20,000 injured. The UN estimates that 8 million people across the country are affected.</p> <p><strong>The scale of need is enormous.</strong> When the first earthquake hit on 25th April Oxfam launched an <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/nepal-earthquake" rel="nofollow">immediate response</a> building on our knowledge base from the long standing country program in <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/development/nepal" rel="nofollow">Nepal </a>and our expertise in emergency response. We are currently working in seven of the worst hit districts, delivering tarpaulins, food and hygiene kits as well as providing clean water and sanitation. We've reached <a href="https://twitter.com/Oxfam/status/601361999084261376" rel="nofollow">over 100,000 people</a> so far across Nepal, but to give you an idea of how we are working on a smaller scale let's focus in on Tundikhel Camp, which I visited today.</p> <p>The Tundikhel Camp lies at the very heart of Kathmandu Municipality where Oxfam has been providing water and temporary toilets for the past three weeks since the great earthquake struck the region.</p> <p>This camp, the largest in the Kathmandu Valley, provides refuge to more than 5,000 people. Today, we started mobilizing and training some camp members to be Oxfam community health volunteers (CHVs).</p> <p><img alt="Brahmi, one of Oxfam&#039;s volunteers, explains to a Tundikhel camp member the responsibilities of becoming a community health volunteer. Photo: Genevive Estacaan/Oxfam" title="Brahmi, one of Oxfam&#039;s volunteers, explains to a Tundikhel camp member the responsibilities of becoming a community health volunteer. Photo: Genevive Estacaan/Oxfam" height="250" width="350" style="float: right;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/php-tundhikel1.jpg" /><strong>Forming community health volunteers groups</strong> is Oxfam's way of enabling camp members to take an active role in maintaining safe hygiene and sanitation practices within the camp. Some fourteen women and seven men signed up this morning, and will be given training on public health promotion. The training centres on raising awareness of four key issues: proper use of latrines, hand washing at critical times, oral rehydration and house-level water purification.</p> <p>It is sometimes challenging to recruit CHVs as it is purely voluntary and requires people's time. However, people begin to change their mind when they understand how important good sanitation practices are for health and safety, and see that even at this difficult time, they can have agency and take an active role in keeping the camp safe for their communities and families.</p> <p><strong>Water provision remains a real challenge</strong> in Tundikhel. For the first nine days, the Government provided water trucks for the camp, but since 5 May, Oxfam has taken on this role.</p> <p>Ensuring provision of clean water and decent sanitation is a major priority in all areas. Many water systems have been damaged and there are huge concerns regarding the quality of water available. Toilets have been damaged leading to people defecating in the open, which creates a risk of disease. Oxfam has already sent teams to respond to some reports of diarrhoea and influenza. With the rainy season starting in June, there is a huge risk of disease including cholera.</p> <p>In Tundikhel, as well as providing clean water and training community health volunteers we've also distributed hygiene kits and provided safe pit latrines. There's a lot of work still to do, but we will continue to do everything we can to help affected communities, to respond to their practical needs now and in the long term.</p> <p><strong>You can support this work by <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/nepal-earthquake" rel="nofollow">donating to our Nepal appeal</a>.</strong></p> <p><em>This entry posted by Genevive Estacaan, Oxfam Communications Officer, 22 May 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Photos:Top: New arrivals at Tundikhel camp for internally displaced people, Kathmandu. Oxfam is providing water and sanitation to people sheltering there by installing an 11,000-litre water tank and constructing 20 pit toilets. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>Inline: Brahmi, one of Oxfam's volunteers, explains to a camp member the responsibilities of becoming a community health volunteer. Credit: Genevive Estacaan/Oxfam</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/nepal-earthquake" rel="nofollow"><strong>Support Oxfam's Nepal Earthquake Response</strong></a></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/our-work/emergency-response/humanitarian-aid" rel="nofollow"><strong>How Oxfam helps in times of crisis</strong></a></p> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/humanitarian-policy-notes" rel="nofollow"><strong>Short papers on Oxfam's policies around humanitarian practice</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Oxfam training community health volunteers after Nepal Earthquake</h2></div> Fri, 22 May 2015 12:01:12 +0000 Guest Blogger 26822 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-05-22-oxfam-training-community-health-volunteers-after-nepal-earthquake#comments