Shushilan, a newer Christian Aid partner, is supporting communities in Satkira District in South West Bangladesh to rebuild their lives after Cyclone Aila which struck in May 2009. The main areas of work are restoring livelihoods, providing people who lost their homes with housing, and engaging with the local government on climate change adaptation. Shushilan is currently supporting 967 people in livelihood projects and 75 households with new housing. Shushilan’s contract is likely to be extended in 2011.
CCDB in the Gopalgonj District, southern- central Bangladesh, continue to support forums (loan and credit groups). They are currently working with 76 groups which in total reaches 5299 people. The groups are mainly made up of women; there are just 91 male members. There are three different types of group:
The first group ‘Phase In Forum’, are relatively new (under 5 years old), and they support communities with livelihood projects, for example providing ducks or training in floating gardens, and also introduce the loan and credit format.
The Status Quo Forums, make up the second group and they have been running for longer. In these groups, women provide regular contributions to the group which are then loaned to other members so that they can invest in sustainable development projects, for example buying livestock. The Status Quo Forums were previously supported by CCDB to develop basic livelihood projects, but in this second phase they provide continued training in management training, accounts training, further loans support training and eco-farming training.
Finally, there are the Phase Out Forums, many of which have been running for over 15 years. These Forums are almost completely independent. CCDB is now providing them with advocacy and lobbying training so that they can access finance and support from local government and raise awareness about gender equality, HIV/AIDS, drug awareness etc. in the wider community.
The funding provided by Christian Aid, through the efforts of their local partners, has increased the churches’ ability to respond to the challenges of HIV/AIDS and created the foundation to empower communities to reach social and economic justice. Recently, Christian Aid commissioned a study to look at the impact achieved by the Jamaica programme. The study looked at the work of four partners. The results are described below:
S-Corner: is the longest standing partner and its newer projects reflected very positive outcomes, particularly on improving people’s attitudes to persons living with HIV, greater use of condoms and reducing fear and stigma associated with HIV. Christian Aid’s long term financial support of S-Corner has facilitated its continuity and stability over the years and has contributed to the positive impact on lifestyle, sanitation and HIV awareness. CA has also helped develop and build the capacity of S-Corner through staff training and development. This has included sharing on community intervention best practices, hurricane mitigation training and climate change awareness.
United Theological College of the West Indies (UTCWI): its impact is evident in the cadre of trained counsellors capable of addressing HIV issues within the church community. CA support to UTCWI has made the entire project possible and sustainable.
“The support and visible presence of CA legitimises the project and allows for wider buy-in by the UTC board. This has facilitated the brokering of agreements between institutions and reinforced the credibility of the programme both locally and internationally”, said Revd Garth.
Children First: Spanish Town, the old capital of Jamaica, has in recent years become a setting for gang related criminal activities, with limited opportunities for out of school youth. Out of growing concern at the marginalisation of young men, the lure into gangs and factions, and the general weakness in parenting structures to positively influence young men, the Male Awareness Now (MAN) project provides services for at-risk young men. The project has shown visible signs of successful change where youngsters are more confident, focused and equipped to seek out better life opportunities. Skillstraining has enabled greater access to employment opportunities leading to a better quality of life. This year, Christian Aid will be looking at ways of tracking the progress of the youngsters over the long-term and possible areas for expansion.
Jamaicans for Justice: has systematically built its social and economic justice programme on sound research, with tested pilot locations, however, while the outcomes are favourable thus far, the impact cannot be entirely attributed to the project. CA is the main funding agency supporting the JFJ’s Social and Economic Justice Project. CA’s interest in advocacy at the national level is well aligned with the JFJ mandate. It represents the first undertaking of its kind in Jamaica, in terms of project design, scope and reach. In addition to project funding, CA provides support in the form of monitoring, project visits and emergency assistance to communities in the case of natural disasters. Residents feel that the project has tangible benefits and is responsive to stated needs. The assistance also enables support for the generation of new ideas about how to move forward and solve problems.
As Zimbabwe enters the New Year it appears that its referendum vote on the new constitution, originally scheduled for January, is unlikely to go ahead before June. The delay is widely attributed to delays in the constitution making process due to political in-fighting between the power-sharing parties, the MDC and Zanu-pf. The decision also follows a visit in December from South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, who urged Zimbabwe’s leadership to hold off on the referendum vote and elections until the constitution is ready and the necessary mechanisms for a free and fair election are in place. Christian Aid and its partners concur that Zimbabwe is not ready for elections at this time, and that there is a high probability that any vote would see a repeat of the violence that plagued the elections in March 2008. They also recognise that anything might happen, and following reports from new partner, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), of politically motivated displacements in some areas, they have been carrying out scenario planning with all partners. This is to ensure that together they are prepared for any emergency situation, including civil unrest, increased food insecurity and economic hardships, localized famine, cholera and other disease outbreaks, as well as displacement. In CA’s last report they detailed the work partners Habakkuk Trust and SCMZ were doing to aid an outcome of the constitution writing process genuinely determined by the will of the Zimbabwean people whom Commitment for Life supports. This work continues, as does related work with young people to limit the likelihood of a recurrence of politically motivated violence in 2011.
CA report to CforL Reference Group January 2011
The World Development Movement hit the ground running in 2010. They saw that climate finance would be a crucial area for campaigning and kicked off the year with a successful protest outside DfID. Thanks to supporters and their awareness raising and education efforts WDM have kept the pressure on the UK government to support grants not loans for developing countries. Most recently they launched the ‘World Bank out of climate finance’ campaign together with southern partners at the UN talks in Cancun.
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change publically states loans for adaptation projects are unacceptable. DfID receives over 2,753 ‘No New Debt’ action cards
WDM publicly presents the UN Adaptation Fund with £1,413 from the ‘send a pound’ action
World Bank role managing Bangladesh’s climate funds is limited to first two years, giving the Bangladeshi government more autonomy and increasing civil society participation
WDM brought together members of the Bangladeshi diaspora communities in the UK to coordinate advocacy on climate finance and strengthen their role in climate justice campaigning. Useful reading material: A Long Way to Go: http://www.wdm.org.uk/climate-justice/long-way-go and a useful Briefing: http://www.wdm.org.uk/climate-justice/making-developing-countries-pay-twice-climate-change
Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator,
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
Commitment for Life is here to help United Reformed Churches and LEPs work for a fairer world and for peace with justice, recognising that change and response starts with each one of us. www.cforl.org.uk