Moving forward in 2011
The possible implications of climate change are a big concern for Jamaica. Over the last 10 years hurricanes and storms have hit the island almost every year, whereas previously the island was hit by storms every 15 to 20 years. In Jamaica there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of tropical weather systems. For this reason, this year, Christian Aid is supporting a new partner called Panos. Panos works with civil society and NGOs on advocacy and lobbying the Government and has built strong links with the Meteorological Office and the office of the Prime Minister who is tasked with overseeing Jamaica’s response to climate change. Panos carries out climate change education in schools and communities and will be supporting the Jamaica delegation attending the next climate change negotiations in South Africa.
WROC: This year, Christian Aid will be providing support to Women’s Rural Outreach Committee for the completion of tree-planting and check dam construction in vulnerable communities, and provide greenhouse training and livestock and cash-crop activities. This is the continuation of a co-funded livelihoods project.
Zimbabwe is now well into its annual hunger season, when the worst off families traditionally run out of food before the April harvest. In areas where food security remains chronic, adults and children are making do with one meal per day, and in worse off areas, people have started to exchange livestock for grain at unfavourable exchange rates, leading to greater vulnerability and reducing the likelihood of their economic stability in the year ahead.
The number who are likely to require food aid this year stands at 2 million, a marginal improvement to last year’s 2.2 to 2.5 million. This is attributable to a number of factors including: steady rains that came when expected and with no periods of drought in between; work that Christian Aid and others have been doing to encourage people not to eat their seeds for planting, a desperate measure that is often resorted to, and new electronic and paper voucher systems proving successful: these ensure seeds and inputs are available within communities and means people no longer must walk to distribution points and wait for trucks to come with ‘handouts’ (see below).
The following short partner updates focus on the launch of the electronic paper and voucher system by ZimPro (Zimbabwe Project Trust) and Dabane Trust, piloting new ways of impacting on food security that improve local economies and protect dignity.
ZimPro and Dabane Trust
In a decisive move by Christian Aid to move away from the traditional system of distributing inputs directly to those they support, ZIMPRO and Dabane have launched a new electronic and paper system in the areas they cover. Christian Aid has trained dealers, project staff and all involved in this new initiative. The paper and electronic voucher system had the following advantages:
· Restoring people’s dignity – participants are allocated paper or electronic (swipe cards) vouchers, which they take to accredited dealers and use this to purchase inputs of their choice. This method is discrete and enables farmers to purchase from their local dealers just like anyone else, and access what they need, such as seeds and fertilizer.
· The burden of carrying heavy loads from distribution centres has been eliminated; this is especially beneficial for female headed and child headed households.
· The stigma of beneficiaries being seen carrying ‘free inputs’ by other community members has been removed.
· This method stimulates the local economy by allowing dealers to resuscitate their businesses and employ community members. Because aid agencies were distributing free inputs to communities, local dealerships had been forced out of business.
· Finally the freedom to choose – by giving paper vouchers, participants have been given the freedom to choose what they want to buy but it also means they can buy quantities they are able to carry and then come back for more later.
By early next year, partners should be able to give a full assessment of this initiative, lessons learnt, what has gone well and what needs to be improved. The paper and electronic vouchers have security features to ensure that only the intended beneficiaries can redeem them at the dealers.
Part of report from CA to CforL Reference group
From seedlings, great trees grow
Ram Yang Bawm lives in the district of Bandarban in Bangladesh. With six children and dependant relatives Ram found he was living hand to mouth. Although the family members helped with caring for the small area of land he had, there was not enough to feed and support the family. Eight years ago, having heard much about them, he joined a People’s Forum with the hope that it would improve his life.
The Forum offered Ram fruit and timber tree seedlings such as pineapple, banana, mango and teak, but more importantly agricultural training and support. The training, by the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh, gave him greater knowledge of farming techniques and helped him to work in a much more efficient way. With the money he earned during those early years he was able to buy some more land which he planted with teak trees. He also set up a nursery and grocery business that was run by his two sons. Today the businesses are doing well and the family have a better standard of living.
Other people have noticed Ram’s success and he cheerfully shares the knowledge he gained from his training with CCDB with them. Many are considering turning to horticulture as a way of earning an income because they can see how the training and support have helped Ram. Ram’s dream is that his home valley will one day be completely green and sown with crops and trees to bring in income and a great source of food.
CCDB’s vision is of a just and caring society where people live in peace, dignity and harmony with all God’s creation. They receive core funding from Commitment for Life through Christian Aid which helps with all the projects in their Comprehensive Poverty Reduction Programme.
Join the Big Climate…Reconnection
In November 2010, people came together all over the country to lobby more than 220 MPs as part of the Big Climate Connection organised by Stop Climate Chaos coalition. In spring 2011 there is a clear need to talk to MPs again: the Energy Bill will be debated in Parliament and the Government will be deciding on their next steps after the Cancun climate talks. You can connect with others in your area this spring to keep the pressure up on your MP by:
Organising or attending a public meeting with your MP (Feb – April 2011): Ask your MP to commit to progress on climate change.
Hold a follow-up lobby meeting with your MP (April 2011): Arrange to meet your MP in their constituency with fellow constituents.
9 June 2011, 11am – 4pm Lobby of MPssupported by all the main NGOs.
On Thursday 9 June, key NGOs will provide the tea and a space for you to meet your MP. But this isn’t just a cosy cuppa. It’s vital that MPs understand how important it is to you that poor countries can receive healthcare and education and forever break free from poverty. As well as delivering effective international aid as promised, the UK government can also push to ensure more money gets to the poorest communities by:
• stopping companies tax dodging
• getting companies to open up their books on the payments they make to developing countries
• supporting innovative ways of funding development like a tax on financial transactions (or Robin Hood Tax).
Put the date in your diary and pre-register today! To find out more and to register for the lobby, go to http://teatimeforchange.org.uk/
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