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Aug 27, 2019

Consequences of the Climate Crisis in Kenya

Ng'ikario. By: Gavin Douglas (Concern 2019).
Ng'ikario. By: Gavin Douglas (Concern 2019).

Dear Supporter,

As of August 2019, the Horn of Africa is in the grip of drought. Large parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have experienced insufficient rainfall for two consecutive rainy seasons, with devastating consequences for people living in those areas due to lost crops and livestock deaths. Food prices have increased and the number of people across the region who do not have enough food to eat has reached 12 million.

If this news induces a perverse sense of déjà vu, that is because it is the third major drought in the past three years. While droughts can occur in almost all types of climate and are not a new experience for people living in this part of the world, what is new is the frequency with which they are happening. It used to be that they would occur maybe every 15 or 20 years. However, from the late 90s onwards, this cycle was reduced to every five years and over the last decade, it has reduced to every second year. Very simply put, this does not give anywhere near enough time for families to recover and is placing them in increasingly desperate situations.

“The recovery period has become shorter or almost non-existent. If people lost their livestock or their assets and had years to re-build, then recovery might be possible. But when it is every second year, you lose more each cycle. Your ability to bounce back becomes less and less. So it has made people more vulnerable and deepened levels of poverty,” explains Amina Abdulla, Concern Kenya Country Director.

Ng’ikario is a 37-year-old pastoralist in a semi-arid county of Kenya called Turkana. She became the head of her household when her husband became disabled due to injury. Of her six young children, three are severely malnourished. As the land has dried up, so too have her options for keeping food on the table.

She used to have a herd of 100 goats. However, in 2017, extreme drought wiped out half of her herd. With little time to recover in between, this current crisis has left her with only five goats remaining. With no pastures for them to graze on, all five have stopped producing milk. The family had relied on that milk as their primary source of nutrition. Now, she, her six children and her five goats all rely on the same source of food — a wild fruit that grows in the bush. When there is no fruit to pick, Ng’ikario has no option but to turn to the animal hides that line the floor of her home, a small round hut made from wood. “I turn to the old hides and skins. I roast them and that is what we consume,” she explains.

Ng’ikario is not alone. Malnutrition rates in Turkana have reached 30% in some areas with this current crisis. To put that into perspective, rates of 15% or higher are considered a ‘critical emergency’ situation. The strain it is placing on local health services is immense.

So what are we doing about it? With the generous support of supporters like you, Concern Worldwide started programming in Turkana last year and is working to support malnourished children and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. We are working with the Ministry of Health and with partners such as Save the Children to reach more mothers and children with vital nutrition support and to strengthen the local health systems that are in place to enable them to better cope with the demand for increased services that comes with recurrent drought.

As the climate crisis escalates on a global level, vulnerable communities around the world are confronting the consequences. We are reaching as many people as we possibly can, but we need your help to reach more. Ng’ikario recognizes the need for outside support for her family. “If I didn’t receive this support, I know my children would have been dead by now.”

Jul 15, 2019

Spotlight: Education & Livelihoods for Refugees

Concern education center. By Gokkusag Dernegi.
Concern education center. By Gokkusag Dernegi.

Dear Supporter,

The war in Syria has now entered its ninth year. What began as a response to peaceful protest in 2011 quickly erupted into a ferocious conflict that has since led to the deaths of more than half a million people, driven an exodus of over 6.5 million refugees – almost half of whom are children – and displaced millions more within the country.

Thanks to the generous support of “concerned citizens” like you, Concern Worldwide has scaled up our assistance to provide millions of Syrians with lifesaving aid. As our teams on the frontlines inside Syria continue to provide lifesaving emergency assistance, such as food rations and clean water, I would like to focus today on our response program for Syrian refugees in Turkey, which has transitioned from emergency response to longer-term resilience assistance.

It is worth noting that Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees of any country in world – and over 3.6 million of them are Syrian, comprising 4.4% of the total population. While the standard of living in Turkey is relatively high, the situation is startlingly different for refugees. More than two thirds live below the poverty line, and one out of every four is considered “extremely” poor, which means he or she is not meeting even basic nutritional needs. When one observes the large number of vulnerable children amongst this group – many of whom have never known a life free from the indignity of displacement and poverty – it becomes clear that we must take action now to ensure this poverty does not become an intergenerational trap. Countless studies have shown that the ability of refugees to escape poverty is closely tied to two interrelated things: education and sustainable livelihoods. With your support, Concern is working hard to provide Syrian refugees in Turkey with both.

Regarding access to quality education, the needs begin with basic enrollment. In 2018, more than 200,000 of the 350,000 Syrian school-aged children in Turkey were unable to enroll in school. Over the last year, Concern’s teams on the ground helped over 1,000 school-aged Syrian boys and girls enter or re-enter the formal education system. Working with the Ministry of Education and local partners, we alleviate financial and other constraints on families so that Syrian children can access quality education to support their learning and wellbeing. We are also working to improve the quality of education and ensure it meets the full spectrum of needs. We are providing teacher trainings and engaging caregivers, including parents, as well as facilitating psychosocial support and referrals when needed.

Regarding livelihoods support, it begins with our work on education. Concern’s education experts are facilitating life skills training to help students acquire the hard and soft skills necessary to secure jobs. Some of these topics include computer skills, athletic activities, handicrafts, and Turkish and Arabic language learning. Further, we are providing vocational training to enable graduates to gain and apply professional skills to build economic self-reliance while integrating into the Turkish labor market. Coupled with the skills training are distributed resources to help refugees kick-start home businesses, such as sewing machines, plumber kits, mobile phone repair kits, and cooking materials.

None of this would be possible without the incredible support we continue to receive from donors like you. As the Syrian crisis grinds on, the needs of refugees are certainly not decreasing in size or urgency. But they are shifting. And you can always count on Concern to tailor our approaches to efficiently and effectively deliver recovery, relief, and resilience to the world’s extreme poor.

Jun 14, 2019

Early Recovery in Malawi and Mozambique

Distribution of essential items
Distribution of essential items

Dear Supporter,

It’s been several months now since Cyclone Idai brought 175mph gusts and widespread flooding to Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, and the crisis is very far from over. Initially, the priorities identified by our rapid assessment teams were food, seeds, and shelter, and Concern has been responding accordingly.

Food distributions, in partnership with the U.N. and other agencies, have been taking place in some of the most affected areas. Access has been a big problem, with soft ground, damaged roads, and destroyed bridges hampering the relief effort. Nevertheless, we have managed to gain access.

Concern has also airlifted in essential items from outside the region, which had been stockpiled for rapid response to emergencies such as this. These include tarpaulins and rope for temporary shelter, water containers, household utensils, mosquito nets, and hygiene products.

In Malawi, our teams have organized cash transfers to allow households to buy what they need most, as in some places local markets are functioning well. It’s an effective way to work and contributes to the local economy.

Cyclone Idai wiped away millions of acres of maize and other crops, which were almost ready for harvest, and this was the biggest blow of all. Most people in rural areas rely on subsistence agriculture for survival — they eat what they grow — and there is little or no backup. In southern Malawi and Central Mozambique there is now a short window of time for people to plant replacement crops, and speed is of the essence. The ground is moist, and fast-maturing varieties of grains and legumes can grow to maturity before it becomes too dry. But this has to happen quickly.

Working with partners, we have sourced and distributed seeds as fast as we can. In the words of Concern’s Director of Emergency Operations, Ros O’Sullivan, “These people have survived one disaster — it’s up to us to help prevent another.”

Unconditional cash transfers
Unconditional cash transfers
 
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