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CWS Update August 2012

A monthly news bulletin that takes a look at development issues, provides analysis of global justice issues and keeps you updated with the work of CWS. An alternative to mainstream media sources. Past issues can be read here

August 2012

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1 September—4 October   Time for Creation  -  World Council of Churches resources for prayer and reflection.

2 September  Father's Day Give something Good for fathers and for families wanting to get out of poverty.

21 September  International Day of Prayer for Peace.

24—28 September  Live Below the Line

Photo: CWS A/P Proximity Pictures

Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis
A new bridge is one sign of recovery after the devastating cyclone that hit Myanmar (also known as Burma) on 2 May 2008.  Cyclone Nargis claimed more than 180,000 lives and over 800,000 people were displaced, losing homes and businesses.  Thanks to your support CWS was able to send funds to humanitarian partner, Church World Service Asia Pacific, to aid the relief effort.  CWS A/P provided food and water as well as temporary shelter to more than 216,00 people in the initial phase.

Four years after the disaster CWS A/P is reporting on its follow up community resilience programme, giving people the skills they need to cope with natural disasters.  Disaster Preparedness programmes enable the community to take appropriate action before and when the disaster occurs.  Almost 6,000 teachers and students in the Ayerawady, Bago and Yangon Districts were involved in the training. 

A 13 year old student, Mg Thant Zin Phyo reported, “I got many things from the training! Firstly I got happiness, secondly I got a lot of knowledge about disasters, thirdly I learned many things I can do that I didn’t know before, fourthly I will share my knowledge to my village and finally, I will be prepared for a disaster in the future!”  In one of Asia’s poorest and most isolated countries, these skills are vital.  CWS A/P reports on positive changes in Myanmar, including the opening up of the country, easing of censorship, the April 2012 elections and some progress in on-going ethnic conflict.


Sahel: Food Crisis Severe
High food prices continue to offer no relief for more than 19 million West Africans in the midst of a severe food crisis.  Cereal production is down 27% across the region and the locust infestation is continuing to spread. If the rains don’t stop early, it is hoped that prices will fall in October.  The arrival of more than 262,000 Malians fleeing conflict and shortages at home, has put added pressure on Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger where they have found refuge.  A further 174,000 are internally displaced.  Please support CWS’s
Sahel Food Crisis Appeal to help stave off the hunger until the next harvest.

Japan’s Triple Disaster
Earthquake, tsu
nami and radiation from the Fukushima nuclear reactor have devastated Japan  over the last 17 months.  CWS sent emergency funds for relief efforts (Note image to right).  Church World Service Asia Pacific mobilised relief and clean up assistance.  They have now extended their appeal to continue psychosocial programmes, increased education and advocacy on radiation exposure. 

Church of Uganda reports
William, aged 56, left his home village because he could not feed his family off the small plot of land he inherited from his father.  Lacking alternatives, he has found conservation farming or ‘Farming God’s Way’ has made the difference.  He is now leasing four acres on which he grows sweet potatoes, beans, eggplants, cow peas and other crops using these skills.  William is one of the 1,080 farmers who have been equipped with new skills and knowledge in the past year, improving his family’s income.

The Planning, Development and Rehabilitation department (PDR) ran training workshops on the electoral process, advocacy and conflict resolution for an estimated 6,240 people.  The 48 trained psycho social providers helped 1,152 people with trauma counselling and mediation.  Gender based violence was a key focus of the last year, involving education and awareness activities including a walk led by Bishop Godfrey Makumbi of West Buganda Diocese. 

PDR also reports a reduction in the incidence of HIV and Aids among fishing communities because of their work.  In addition they worked with these communities to set up legal aid clinics to deal with local issues and improve livelihoods with pigs, poultry and by selling fishing equipment.  Malaria and healthcare programmes were also part of their year’s achievement.

Trends in NZ Aid
NZ Aid and Development Dialogues has published new graphs on government aid levels.  Consultant Jo Spratt notes that this year’s budget gave the impression of a drop because of NZ$60 million of funding rolled over from previous years.  The approximate Official Development Assistance (ODA) figures are: NZ$554 million in 2012/2013; NZ$555 million in 2013/2014; and NZ$555 million in 2014/2015), an increase of $17.7 million from the previous three-year allocation.

The National Party made a commitment in 2008 to reach an absolute ODA level of NZ$600 million by 2010, but this has now been pushed back 2015/2016.   ODA is estimated to fall from 0.3% of Gross National Income to 0.27% in the current financial year.

Arms Trade Treaty: Not Yet
Negotiations for an international treaty on trading conventional weapons failed to reach agreement at the end of July.  CWS prepared a summary on the conference.

Action for West Papua
The Lush beauty chain of shops will be flying the Morning Star flag for a week from 22 August and raising concern for West Papua.  The flag is a symbol of West Papuan independence, something lost when taken over by Indonesia in 1969.  Within West Papua, people have been killed, tortured and imprisoned for flying the flag. The University of Sydney estimates more than 100,000 Papuans have been killed since 1969. Contact:

Live Below the Line
Archbishop David Moxon has lent his support to this year’s Live Below the Line challenge from 24-28 September.  CWS is raising funds for young people running the Maridi Service Agency in South Sudan.  Participants are sponsored to spend just $2.25 a day on food.  1.4 billion people live on less. Contact Lara for more information.                     

About Update
Update provides news, information and stories.  Reproduction of items is encouraged with attribution from CWS.  The current and back issues are available.