FOR YOUR DIARY
Live below the Line
Join the challenge to beat the worst poverty by signing up to live on $2.25 a day for the week, or sponsor someone who is. Read more here.
Time for Creation
1 September—4 October. Resources available with a focus on the 2011 Year of the Forests here.
International Day of Prayer for Peace
21 September. A global initiative for prayer and actions, more available here.
Churches Week of Action on Food
10-17 October. Resources will be available at the beginning of September for this global week of action to ensure that there is food for all. More information will be available next month.
More Help Needed
In the face of impending famine for 12 million people in the Horn of Africa, ACT Alliance members are working to provide food and water in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Each day 1300 refugees reach the Dadaab refugee complex 100 km inside Kenyan’s north-western border. They have trekked for 22 days on foot and are desperate. Eighty per cent are woman and children. ACT member the Lutheran World Federation manages the Dadaab complex made up of three camps and temporary home to almost half a million of refugees. The worst drought in 60 years has pushed many to the brink of starvation but the continued conflict and failure to address the complex causes of the mass exodus are of greater concern.
The long suffering Somali population has faced drought many times before but this time they cannot cope alone. Traditional mechanisms for dealing with drought are no longer an option and constant uncertainty in the country has meant that even the elderly are risking their lives to travel south. Frequent drought triggered by climate change is the latest challenge to Somalis living without hope of a stable or effective government. Food shortages are likely to continue to the end of the year but according to church leaders it is important that the situation is not forgotten or ignored. “Because this is becoming a chronic problem, we have got to see the root causes and fight it,” says Archbishop Ian Ernest chair of the Council of Anglican Province of Africa. See
Facing the loss of significant government funding CWS is refocusing its efforts to ensure that the vital work partners do to end poverty can continue. It has been a difficult process. Some staff have taken redundancy and CWS is renegotiating the level of grants with partners. The priorities are to strengthen work with the churches and to increase support for locally owned and effective community programmes overseas. CWS is launching some new initiatives including Direct Partners. This is a new scheme to link New Zealand groups more closely with one particular partner. For more information contact.
South Sudan Without Debt
The challenges facing the world’s newest nation may prove to be great, but North Sudan’s agreement in principle to maintain responsibility for Sudan’s US$38 billion debt is one sign of hope. According to Jubilee Debt Campaign UK, North Sudan has taken the debt burden in return for access to the IMF and World Bank’s debt cancellation schemes.
The situation facing South Sudan remains daunting and the churches have been deeply involved in negotiations for peace. Peter Wadella Operations Manager for CWS partner the Maridi Service Agency reported, “The case in Southern Kordofan and maybe Abyei areas do not have very big challenge to us down here in the South. The only challenge is that fuel has become too expensive. Security wise there is nothing wrong with us at the moment.
“The biggest challenge we face now is the returnees from the Northern Sudan. Since the returnees were brought back and others continue to come back, not many services have been offered to them. Most are living a really miserable life as they even don't have any thing to begin life from.”
Living Below the Line is raising funds to help in Maridi. Donate to the Sudan Appeal here.
A West Papuan delegation are preparing for the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum from 6 –9 September. They hope to press Pacific leaders for recognition as part of the Pacific. For 40 years West Papuans have sought independence from Indonesia while at the same time experiencing increasing marginalization in their own land. In response to long running human rights abuses and the lack of development opportunities for Papuans, faith leaders joined to declare West Papua a Land of Peace in 2000. Representatives will visit Whangarei, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch. For more details see.
Unfair working conditions
Concern is growing about the working conditions on foreign fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters. Crews have suffered serious abuse and are employed as bonded labour. In Christchurch, the 32 Indonesian crew from the Korean Oyang 75 who have refused to return to these conditions are now receiving local support. For more information about the campaign see.
CWS was delighted to welcome Dr Hope Antone of partner the Christian Conference of Asia to the office in July. She visited Christchurch as an expression of ecumenical solidarity and to listen to people’s earthquake stories. Staff discussed how CWS was responding to the disaster at home and together reflected theologically on these efforts. She updated staff on CCA’s work and the need to strengthen member churches in their work together for justice when it is more difficult to make organisational statements.
After war in Sri Lanka
CWS partners Monlar and the Women’s Centre have both reported concern about the situation facing people living in the former war zones. Female headed households are particularly vulnerable and there are few livelihood opportunities. Some of the younger women who work in the Free Trade Zones come from the east. The Women’s Centre is working with them to help their families and foster understanding in a country still divided by ethnicity. They run successful exchange visits bringing women of different areas together.
Monlar reports that World Bank figures estimate 40% of the population are living on less than $US 2 a day, of which 60% of their income is spent on food. Food prices climb ever higher but the poor rural population with whom they work are receiving less income. Workshops to teach trainers on Zero Budget Farming have been one mechanism to help. Monlar has also taken farmers from the rest of the country to meet their peers in the north and east as part of their efforts to foster peace and development.
No real change is expected from the Southern African Development Community meeting dealing with the continued failure of government in Zimbabwe in mid August. The fragile power-sharing arrangement between president Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai undermines prospects for good government and economic improvement. Agreement had been reached to hold elections in 2012 but apparently Mugabe is now suggesting they will be this year. Dissatisfied with the current situation, some Zimbabweans are calling for politics free from violence, propaganda and corruption so that the country can rebuild. The mysterious death of General Solomon Mjuru husband of vice president Joyce Mjuru and powerful figure in ZANU-PF on August 15 is adding to the speculation.