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CWS Update August 2010

CWS Update August 2010

  • 6 Hiroshima Day
  • 9 Day of the World’s Indigenous People
  • 12 International Youth Day
  • 23 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

>> Peace Sunday Resources

>> International Youth Day

>> Details on Government Funding too Slow

>> Cluster Munitions Banned

>> Gaza Refugee Expert to Visit

>> Roger Award Nominations Open

>> Faith-based HIV funding flat lining

>> Compensation for Moruroa Workers slow in coming

>> Ten eyebrow raising health statistics

>> Current economic crisis a moral one says Tutu

>> Success for Campaign to cancel Haiti's Debt

>> Haiti six months on

 

Peace Sunday Resources
A reminder that peace worship resources for August 8 are available from the CWS website or office. They feature a story from a former child soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo and remember the people affected by the 1945 atomic bomb blasts.

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International Youth Day
This year’s international youth day is a double celebration as it launches the UN’s International Year of Youth. Global events will celebrate young peoples’ energy, imagination and initiatives and will recognize their crucial contributions to enhancing peace and development. see www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/iyouthday for more information.

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Details on Government Funding too Slow

CWS remains concerned about the impact of the new funding arrangements for Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on long term partners and the many communities with whom they work.  Details available of the new Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Response Funds are limited making it difficult for all involved to plan for future activity.  The government has given five weeks for NGOs to submit applications for the first of two funding rounds but has yet to release the necessary forms.  Crucial details of the schemes are lacking and it is difficult to see how they will increase efficiency as claimed by the government when cancelling its 35 year old predecessor.  Instead the government has introduced seemingly stringent accountability standards, for example requiring that projects be approved by Heads of Mission (which can be time consuming and may not be based on local knowledge in places where they are responsible for many countries), and that they not commence until the government funding is released. 

The government has chosen to change the ratios and is requiring that by 2012/13 the funding be split 75% to the Pacific, 15% to South-East Asia and 10% elsewhere.  Like many agencies, CWS retains a commitment to good development partners throughout the world which is not reflected by these ratios.  There is no indication of how many of our partners’ programmes will meet the narrower criteria. The new criteria do not reflect longstanding commitments to human rights and good governance that is recognised as good development practice.   The globally acknowledged good reputation of New Zealand’s overseas development assistance programme to meet the needs of poor people could be threatened by possible cuts in funding, competition among agencies and a sudden influx of money without time to put in place well planned development programmes.

CWS staff will be raising these and other issues when they attend the government briefing on 29 July.  Regular updates are posted on the CWS website.

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Cluster Munitions Banned
On 1 August the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions takes effect, becoming binding law in New Zealand and around the world.  States that have signed up to the new treaty have agreed to: declare and destroy stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years; identify and clear cluster-munition contaminated areas within ten years; and assist affected communities and cluster survivors so that they can be fully included in society and enjoy their fundamental rights.  To find our more about cluster munitions download Hot Topic 9 from the CWS website (Resources section/Churches Agency on International Issues). See also www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz CWS is a member of the campaign to ban cluster munitions. 

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Gaza refugee expert to visit
Christian World Service is delighted to be hosting one of the world’s experts on Gaza refugee conditions from 10 -13 August.  Constantine Dabbagh is the Executive Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) in Gaza.  He will be visiting Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin to meet with local groups, plus politicians and media.
His visit provides a rare opportunity to hear about the on the ground reality for Palestinians locked in a narrow strip of land with few available services.  Entry in and out of Gaza is very difficult.  DSPR  provides health care, education and community services to the predominantly Muslim populations in extremely difficult circumstances.
CWS is hoping that the visit will highlight the plight of the Palestinians but also enable people to hear firsthand reports of the work that DSPR does to keep hope alive for a better future.  Mr Dabbagh, a former UN peacekeeper, is an eloquent advocate for his people and has wide experience in navigating the complex political situation in which DSPR does its work.  More details of the visit will be posted on the website and available from the office.

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Roger Award Nominations Open
Nominations are invited for the Worst Transnational Corporation operating in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Christchurch-based Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) and GATT Watchdog have organised the annual awards since 1997 to highlight the damage done by corporations through their economic dominance, the exploitation of people and the environment as well as their interference in the democratic processes.  Further details, including the past winners, the Judges’ Reports and criteria can be found at: http://canterbury.cyberplace.co.nz/community/CAFCA/publications/Roger/index.html Nominations close on 31 October.

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Spotlight on health issues

Faith-based HIV budgets ‘flat lining’

A pilot study commissioned by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, of which CWS is a member, confirms that faith-based organizations are experiencing shifts in funding that are reducing their capacity to provide HIV treatment. Funding reductions are also affecting the provision of other HIV-related services such as voluntary counselling and testing, lab services for CD4 counts, home-based care, social support, prevention, and care for orphans and vulnerable children.

"I'm asking the question 'Which child do I have to say no to?'" said Father Richard Bauer, Executive Director of Catholic AIDS Action, Namibia, during the International AIDS Conference held in Vienna from 18 -23 July.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation/UNAIDS report, global HIV funding declined for the first time since 2002 - from $7.7 billion in 2008 to $7.6 billion in 2009. The EAA study sought to determine if faith-based organizations were experiencing a similar decline in funding and consequently having to scale back services, particularly in light of a report by the African Religious Health Assets Program stating that up to 70 percent of health services are provided by faith-based organizations in rural areas of Africa.

Seventeen of the 19 faith-based organizations interviewed by consultant Becky Johnson in June 2010 had experienced declines in funding or flat-lined budgets, while two had no negative funding changes.

The impact of these shifts has varied, Johnson said, with some organizations having to take clients off treatment, delay treatment, or cap enrolments. A few organizations have been able to find other sources of funding to maintain service delivery.

"It really is the faith-based services that have the longest history of being present in rural and remote areas around the world, long before [others] were ready to provide services," said Norway's AIDS Ambassador Sigrun Møgedal at the press conference. She noted that funding declines will require all organizations providing HIV services, including faith-based groups, to work together to cover community needs through increased collaboration and efficiency gains.

Johnson noted that her research pointed to the need for consistent, long-term funding and donor commitment to maximize the effectiveness and reach of faith-based programs. Organizations interviewed also stated the need for an increased focus on health systems strengthening and nutrition support to better meet the needs of HIV-positive clients.

The full study can be found at: http://www.e-alliance.ch/en/s/hivaids/

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Compensation for Moruroa workers slow in coming
Long term CWS partners, Moruroa e Tatou supported by the French military veterans AVEN are continuing with their efforts to gain recognition and compensation for the victims of nuclear testing in particular those who worked on the test sites in the Pacific.  The French government has set up a Compensation Committee which is meeting at the former Department of Defence office in Arcueil, the site where many of the decisions relating to the testing which has caused so much cancer and disease were made. The committee of eight members includes five people approved by the Department of Defence and has limited sites of contamination to only four islands and atolls. Most of these are the least populated and it excludes the spread of contamination beyond testing sites.
Moruroa e Tatou also expressed concern that the government had reduced the number of cancers eligible for compensation from 18 to 14, noting that the United Nations and the USA recognised a greater number of diseases linked to testing.
Although the December approval of the compensation bill by the French Parliament provided for some compensation to the workers and military personnel who worked on the sites, it did not cover the local indigenous communities on the islands near Moruroa that received nuclear fallout.  Moruroa e Tatou will continue to campaign for a better deal for those who are suffering from the effects of testing.
To read more about the situation, see the 2009 CWS Peace Sunday Resources (in the Topics section of www.cws.org.nz/resources) or www.moruroaetatou.com/ (in French)

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Ten Eye-brow raising health statistics
A UN news report has highlighted 10 thought provoking facts on global health, pulled from the 2010 World Health Statistics report:

  • Not the spreadable kind: In 43 low-income countries 40 percent more people had non-communicable diseases - including diabetes, heart disease and stroke - than infectious illnesses in 2004. Non-infectious diseases killed 33 million worldwide in 2004.
  • Sleepless in Swaziland: No under-five children slept under insecticide-treated bed nets to ward off malarial mosquitoes in Swaziland, whereas in Madagascar 60 percent of children did so, according to the countries’ most recent surveys conducted since 2000.
  • Midwifery in Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan is the only low-income country in the past decade to boast coverage of nurses and midwives similar to that in high-income countries - 108 nurses and/or midwives per 10,000 residents. Australia (109), Switzerland (110), Luxembourg (104) and Canada’s (100) are comparable.
  • Oil-rich, but doctor-poor: Equatorial Guinea, which in 2009 had the world’s 64th highest per capita income, and the highest in sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank), had the same number of doctors per 10,000 residents (3) as did Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Namibia, Togo, Sudan, Yemen and the Pacific islands of Samoa and Tonga.
  • Protected in the Pacific: Fewer than a quarter of women in Africa reported using contraception, while over 80 percent of women in the region WHO classifies as western Pacific used it. Chad had the world’s lowest contraceptive use at 2.8 percent.
  • Choking on fumes: Of the 20 countries worldwide where more than 95 percent of those surveyed reported using solid fuels (wood, coal, charcoal, crops) for indoor cooking - associated with higher rates of fatal respiratory diseases like pneumonia - six are in West Africa (not counting Benin, Gambia and Chad, which come within points of the highest threshold.)
  • Measles: While 76 percent of one-year-olds in Africa on average were immunized against measles in 2008 versus 58 percent in 1990, these rates were 24 and 51 percent, respectively, in Somalia and Equatorial Guinea in 2008.
  • Slow on sanitation: Thirty percent of people in Africa used “improved sanitation facilities” - including a composting or flushing toilet, piped sewer systems, septic tanks, or latrines with open ventilation or concrete slabs - in 1990. Eighteen years later, the statistical equivalent of less than half an additional person joined them.
  • Under-weight children: Some four out of 10 under-five children are considered underweight in Niger, India and Yemen.
  • Youngest mothers: Almost two out of 10 girls aged 15-19 in Niger have given birth, followed by Afghanistan (1.5) and Bangladesh (1.3).

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Current financial crisis is a moral one, says Tutu
The end of the Cold War led to the false hope that all humans would be treated equally, says Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

But the world's inability to avoid crises such as the recent recession, climate change and volcanic ash illustrates the risk of not working together, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town said.

"The countries most responsible for devastating changes are the least vulnerable to the consequences, of which the price is being paid by the poor and the weak," he said.

"We all have just one world … Unless we work out a way to live together, we will end up at the bottom of the pit together," Tutu said.

Solutions to the ongoing economic crisis will only be found in the faith communities, Tutu said while noting, "More than political will, the moral imperative is lacking; we realise more and more [the global financial crisis] is a moral and ethical matter."

Tutu was speaking at the handing over last week of a report on globalisation by Uniting Reformed Church of South Africa theologian the Rev. Allan Boesak, and the Rev. Johann Weusmann of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Germany titled Dreaming a Different World.

Much of the "very activist" report, as Boesak described it, is devoted to economic issues, and is explicitly meant as ammunition in what is seen as the battle against the domination by a financial elite using "empire logic".

Just as Christ rose up against the Roman empire, it is the duty of Christians to resist the "lordless powers" of the global capitalist empire, the report says. It looks at issues such as the global food crisis, financial markets, ecology and militarism. It sets out a detailed programme for "breaking the dominance of financial markets over the real economy".

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Success for Campaign to cancel Haiti’s Debt
The IMF announced on 22 July that it will cancel Haiti's $US 268million debt ($NZ 369.45 million) six month on from January’s devastating earthquake.  It also agreed to loan Haiti a further $US 60m for rebuilding efforts.  The IMF said that the new three year loan is inteneded to boost the country’s reserves and help manage the potential swings in the value of the local currency that could arise.  It will be interest-free until 2011.  After that the interest rates will be low.  The Haitian economy is expected to grow by about 9% in the next financial year, slowing to 6% in 2015 according to the organisation. 

CWS as part of Jubilee Aotearoa wrote to the New Zealand Government in the aftermath of the quake asking them to support such an initiative.  It hopes that the latest efforts combined with the March 2010 $US 39 m cancellation of Haiti’s debt to the World Bank will provide a real boost for what is becoming an increasingly shaky recovery process.

The IMF's announcement came in the wake of a communiqué in which it stated: 'We look forward to consideration by the Fund of proposals for providing exceptional debt relief to countries hit by catastrophic disasters and, in that context, to joining international efforts to relieve Haiti’s debt.'

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Haiti six months on - the success is what hasn’t happened
Six months after the devastating January 12 earthquake hit Haiti the good news amidst the rubble is that possible worst case scenarios have been avoided.

Christian World Service global partner ACT Alliance is deeply involved in the emergency aid and ongoing development work in Haiti. It has been the vehicle for New Zealand contributions to CWS for Haiti. In their 6 month report the ACT Alliance team make the point that the real mark of success so far is in what has not happened. There has been no massive outbreak of disease despite extremely cramped and often unhygienic conditions. Nor has there been a nutrition crisis and most of the 1.5 million displaced people have got some form of shelter.

The logistics of the relief effort are huge. Since the earthquake hit ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance has raised over (US) $120 million for Haiti and working either directly or through more than 20 local and national partners has provided extensive help to people.“We have assisted more than 341,000 people since the earthquake hit Haiti. People have been assisted with emergency shelters, food, water and sanitation amongst other forms of help,’’ said Genevieve Cyvcot, the ACT Alliance co-ordinator in Haiti. However she noted that despite what had been achieved with good aid and sharing between major local and international groups of duties there was still huge amounts to be done. “Hundreds of thousands of people are still in vulnerable situations especially those in inadequate shelter for the hurricane season,’’ she said.

The new challenge was to maintain the present levels of aid and support while moving ahead into the reconstruction of Haiti.

ACT Alliance also took the six month point to remind the global community that promises made in the heat of the quake aftermath now needed to be honoured.So far just over 20 per cent of the(US)  $12 Billion promised by international donors has been actually delivered to the Haitian Government, well short of the amount needed to pay for the cleanup and redevelopment process to begin.

Donations for Haiti rebuilding can be made to the CWS Haiti Appeal at www.cws.org.nz or sent to PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8142

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