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Dec 10, 2019

Recovery Efforts in Mozambique

Cyclone Idai ravaged southeastern Africa in early March 2019, causing more than 1,000 fatalities and over $1 billion of damage. Subsequent heavy rains, flooding, and mudslides devastated everything in its path—with 1.8 million Mozambicans directly affected by the storm. Many international organizations called this “massive disaster” the worst weather-related crisis to have ever hit the southern hemisphere.

In the immediate aftermath, at least 130,000 were living in shelters across 136 sites; schools were repurposed as shelters, with many children unable to attend classes. Hundreds of thousands of people are still suffering due to a paralyzing loss of crops and livestock, overwhelming damage to buildings and key infrastructure, and thousands of vulnerable communities left without support, including traumatized children separated from their parents.

IsraAID’s Emergency Response Team arrived on 23 March and began conducting a needs assessment in partnership with the President of Mozambique’s office, as well as other international NGOs and local partners. IsraAID deployed a medical team, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene specialists, Pyschosocial Support professionals, and Protection coordinators to begin providing desperately needed aid.

Today, IsraAID remains on the ground providing recovery support to affected communities, in two main sectors:

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH):

IsraAID WASH specialists on the ground continue to ensure that communities have access to safe water. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the team distributed NUF filters, which can provide safe water for entire communities. All filter distributions were coupled with training community leaders on their use, to ensure their ongoing usage and effectiveness. Today, our team on the ground continues to visit these communities-- many of them remote and difficult to access-- to check on the NUF filters, the community members managing their usage, and to provide support with troubleshooting and maintenance. Check out the attached pictures!

Psychosocial Support in Education:

Disasters and conflicts can have a severe psychosocial impact on individuals, families and communities. Following Cyclone Idai, IsraAID conducted a monitoring process in 5 of the worst-affected school districts to evaluate the existing psychosocial capacity and future needs of teachers in each district. Responding to these findings, IsraAID and its partners have launched a program to strengthen the capacity of teachers to provide psychosocial support to children in their care, using relevant and adapted expressive methodologies. Based on the known mental health impact of disasters, coupled with IsraAID’s global experience supporting communities as the recovery from crisis, this program will bolster community resilience and promote a culture of psychosocial preparedness and mental health literacy within the education system of Sofala Province.

The immediate aftermath of a crisis is an apt time to focus on building resilience, as communities are more focused on such matters and have recent, first-hand experience to better identify potential hazards. Classrooms are an ideal setting for this intervention since children are some of the most vulnerable in emergencies, and educational frameworks are a natural confluence of society—where parents, staff, children, and local government interact. 

To accomplish this, IsraAID, in partnership with GIZ, the Sofala Provincial Ministry of Education, the Mozambican Department of Nutrition and Health in Schools, and other actors, will initiate a two-stage program to integrate psychosocial support and resilience education into the local school system. This program will reach more than 412,000 beneficiaries across 357 primary schools-- and is currently being launched!

More updates from the field to come! Thanks very much for your ongoing support!

Dec 2, 2019

Emergency Response in the Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian flattened multiple islands in the Bahamas in early September, claiming the lives of at least 61 people, and  destroying water sources, roads, homes, and key infrastructure. With more than 650 still missing, the number of fatalities is expected to rise. 90% of buildings were destroyed or damaged in Abacao islands and Grand Bahama. Huge numbers of evacuees have since traveled to Nassau, the capital, and Freeport, where the local government established shelters. Others have stayed put in their communities, hoping to build back from the mass destruction that left them without a home, no safe water or electricity, and limited food and supplies. IsraAID arrived in the Bahamas on September 5, 2019 to begin a rapid needs assessment, distribute urgently needed relief items, ensure community access to safe water, and provide psychosocial support to affected populations.

Two main islands suffered serious devastation: Abaco and Grand Bahama. Since the storm, thousands have been evacuated to Nassau, where IsraAID is providing support. IsraAID is helping coordinate aid efforts in the affected areas. In addition, IsraAID deployed emergency response specialists to Florida to assist with initial procurement and shipping of relief supplies.

Following an initial needs assessment, the IsraAID team partnered with local organizations and agencies, including the Caribbean Israel Leadership Coalition of Churches (CILC); the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation; UNICEF; the National Emergency Management Agency; the Grand Bahama Port Authority; and the Ministries of Education, of Youth, Culture and Sports, and Social Services. Together, we are providing the following key activities in (1) Grand Bahama, (2) Abaco, and (3) Nassau, New Providence (for the evacuated population):

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
Water sources on Grand Bahama have been seriously compromised as a result of the tide, storm surges, and flooding. Dangerous levels of salination, debris, and waste in water sources have deemed them unusable; and many water pumps for wells dependent on electricity are unable to function.

IsraAID has offered safe water solutions to affected communities, leading a collaboration of local community-based organizations with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to distribute large quantities of potable water, set up water distribution centers, and distribute sanitation and hygiene items. Local partners include the Grand Bahama Port Authority and Grand Bahama Water Authority. IsraAID WASH professionals are advising the local water authorities on rapid rehabilitation of aquifers to restore regular access to safe water. The team on the ground is currently assessing options for longterm sustainable safe water access, including water harvesting and ensuring that local institutions have resilient water systems. This aims to replace the ongoing water trucking project that IsraAID is currently supporting.

Protection for Affected Communities
Hurricane-affected communities are at high risk of severe psychological impact due to trauma and overwhelming instability. Vulnerable populations including women, children, ethnic minorities, and service providers are in particular need of support. In coordination with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, IsraAID’s protection team are implementing self-care and emotional wellbeing sessions for local community leaders, service providers, and school guidance counsellors. IsraAID and UNICEF have launched a series of trainings to equip education professionals with the skills and knowledge to provide psychosocial support to 10,000 evacuated children in host communities. We have already trained 41 teachers, 71 counsellors, and 41 community volunteers. IsraAID’s team will also operate at least 10 Child-Friendly Community Centers across three different islands, providing structure, activities, and support to children who have experienced the trauma of the hurricane, and training for
volunteers on child protection and case management.

Disaster Risk Reduction
The best time to focus on resiliency is right after crisis strikes, as communities are more focused on preventing what has just happened from happening again, and have recent, first-hand experience in identifying potential hazards. As such, IsraAID is planning to work within the school system in the Bahamas to develop emergency response plans for each community, rooted in the local school. This is an ideal point of intervention for cultivating a culture of prevention and hazard-awareness: children
represent one of the most vulnerable groups in emergencies, and schools are a natural confluence of society, where parents, staff, children, and local government meet and interact.

The IsraAID team will implement a pilot DRR curriculum for teachers and other staff members to promote a culture of prevention and develop school-specific emergency plans involving local community members. This program, currently in implementation by IsraAID teams in other post-disaster countries, including Guatemala, Dominica, and Mozambique, seeks to improve local preparation for potential disasters. Studies show that communities with plans in place preceding a crisis, are better able to bounce back afterwards.

IsraAID continues to monitor and respond to changing needs on the ground. Thank you for your support!!

Nov 26, 2019

New Child Resource Center in Uganda!

IsraAID’s programming in the Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Moyo District provides Child Protection and basic educational services to the local population. Close to 330,000 individuals live in the area, including refugees and the host community, made up of 65% children under the age of 17. With 74% of households reporting that at least one member lacks the psychological care they need, protection services are crucial to provide urgent support. Uganda hosts more than 1.2 million refugees, just under one third of all refugees worldwide, and the highest number in Africa. 67% of these refugees are from neighboring South Sudan, where war and civil strife forced them from their homes; others are from the DRC, Burundi, Somalia, and Rwanda.

IsraAID’s team on the ground improves community-based Child Protection mechanisms, by providing daily activities for children in our Child Friendly Space (CFS). The CFS’ implementation model is designed to involve community members directly in ensuring that children have the resources they need to learn and grow.

Over the past months, IsraAID, thanks to the generous support from our partners, has begun to construct a new CFS, which will allow us to reach new families and children in need of support. Upon completion, this CFS will have capacity to host an average of 150 children per day, 6 days a week, for 8 hours per day. Daily programming in basic numeracy/literacy, recreational activities, sports, expressive arts, and psychosocial support will be implemented by refugee and host-community facilitators who have undergone intensive psychosocial and child protection training with IsraAID staff. In addition, the CFS will be used as an outreach hub to engage the wider community in the importance of Child Protection and advocate for education.

Currently, the building process is well underway, with the foundation set and the structures beginning to take shape. After the site was cleared of trees, bushes, and hills, the foundation’s pit was dug for the two-classroom block, as well as the latrine. The foundation and column base was set, made of concrete, and the brick for the walls is currently being laid for the classrooms. The latrine block is completed, with an iron roof. The steel casement for the doors have been fitted, and are awaiting painting, which will take place three weeks after the plaster surfaces have cured and been set. The external walls of the latrines are finished with
rough cast, to protect them from the effects of weathering. The latrines also have a gutter connection from the roof, a vent pipe to prevent bad odors, and a handwashing tank has been constructed next to the latrines.

Following a few issues with which  authorities had jurisdiction of the land (now resolved), the most significant challenge during this period was bad weather. Heavy rains slowed down the process of transporting materials to the construction site and delayed the contractor’s ability to keep up with the schedule. Although this has postponed the CFS’s launch date, the wet weather has helped to cure the CFS’s walls, which in the long term, will make the building far more durable and weather resistant.

In addition, the contractor faced some difficulty in employing a sufficient number of workers, which further slowed down the work. IsraAID staff stepped in, seeing this as an opportunity, and recruited local community members to support the process. Not only does this help speed up the process, but it also bolsters local ownership of the CFS.

Concurrent to the construction of the new CFS, IsraAID’s regional Protection team also trained the new, and existing, CFS facilitators from the refugee and host community. The training included Psychological First Aid (PFA), elements of Child  Protection, the Protection referral system, how to operate CFS and more!

Thank you for your support!!

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