Thursday, February 2, 2012

Unit 5: Lifelines of hope

Overview of the Unit 

5.1   A helping hand in times of crisis 
 In this unit, we begin to examine some specific programmes and projects in which AKDN institutions are involved. An important aspect of development work is related to disaster relief. Disasters may occur due to natural or human factors. At such times, communities who suffer from disasters require urgent attention. In this section, we examine the disaster relief work under taken by relief agencies. 
5.2   Fighting hunger, disease and poverty 
 Many communities in poor countries lack the most basic of necessities. They may suffer from the lack of clean water, food and shelter. These communities are vulnerable to contagious diseases, and do not have the resources to help themselves. We study why reaching out to these communities is an important priority for development agencies.

5.3  the means to earn a living 
 One of the factors leading to poverty is the lack of means for poor families to earn their living. The majorities of these families live in rural areas, and find it difficult to earn money from their land and produce. Many more dwell in cities, where they may not find work that pays them enough to support themselves. In this section, we examine programmes that are aimed at helping such families improve their earning abilities 

5.1   A helping hand in times of crisis 
Natural and human disasters
Problems of development are caused by the interaction of many factors. Natural and human disasters are one set factor that hinders the development in various parts of the world.
Some areas of the world are prone to drought, storms, floods, fires, earthquakes and other catastrophic events. These natural events occur periodically. Certain regions of the world suffer from natural disasters because of their geographical location. For instance, countries situated in or near desert areas are likely to experience drought.
Disasters that are man made can cause serious damage. A large number of them are due to wars and conflicts between different groups of people. In recent times, accidents related to nuclear and chemical pollution have also had a serious impact on the lives of the people. The Chernobyl and Bhopal are two examples of man made catastrophes.
In the twenty first century, human actions have the potential of causing large – scale natural disasters. For example the; the rise in temperature due to global warming may lead to the melting of the polar ice-caps, leading to wide spread flood of low lying lands around the world.
Impact on communities
What has been achieved from years of hard work can be undone in a matter of days or hours by disasters. It is difficult to predict when they will occur, and poor countries do not have the resources to prepare in advance for them.
A major catastrophe has both short term and long –term effects. Immediately after a disaster, communities suffer from large number of deaths and casualties. Many people may be wounded, and suffer from shock and trauma. Vital services such as the availability of fresh water and electricity may be disrupted. Illness such as typhoid and cholera can spread rapidly in the absence of proper health care facilities.
Disasters can have an impact on the communities that can last for many years. They may suffer from long-term effects, such as the loss of lives, property, resources and other assets. It can take a long time for people to rebuild their lives if they have to start from very little. Community needs to rebuild their schools, hospitals, houses, businesses and industries. Without help and support, they find it difficult to return to a normal way of life.
Relief aid
Communities become severely disabled to help themselves if hit by a serious calamity. Under such situations, disaster relief agencies play a vital role in getting aid quickly to affected areas to save lives. The work of these agencies becomes more difficult if the disaster has taken place in mountainous region, flooded areas, or other hostile environments.
Disaster relief agencies are specialized in relief work. They are trained to deal with large scale catastrophes in different areas of the world. They have expertise in making available emergency supplies, medical care, food, clothing and temporary shelter to the affected areas. They are assisted by medical teams that administer first aid and help prevent outbreaks of diseases.
Disaster relief agencies depend on support and resources from various sources. They receive funding from governments, organisation, businesses, communities and private donors. These funds are vital in helping disaster relief agencies respond quickly and effectively in times of crisis.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance
An example of a relief aid agency is Focus Humanitarian Assistance, which is linked to the AKDN. FOCUS is an international emergency response agency whose activities are based in Asia and Africa. It provides relief and support services during and following man made and natural disasters. FOCUS helps people in need reduce their dependence on aid by assisting them to become self –reliant.
Through activities and interventions in Afghanistan, Germany, Mozambique, Pakistan, Russia and Zanzibar, FOCUS has been providing urgently needed food, medicines and essential supplies to people affected by disasters. It has helped in the resettlement of refugees and displaced persons in various parts of the world.
FOCUS has worked closely with organisations such as Canadian International Development Agency, the Red Cross, Medecines Sans Frontiers, OXFAM, the United States Agency for International Development, and various United Nations agencies.

Types of disasters
  • Avalanche
  • Chemical spill
  • Conflict
  • Crop failure Flood
  • Food shortage
  • Forest fire
  • Heat wave
  • Hurricane
  • Industrial accident
  • Insect infection
  • Landslide
  • Poisoning
  • Scrub fire
  • Storm
  • Tidal wave
  • Cyclone
  • Drought
  • Earthquake
  • Epidemic
  • Explosions
  • Famine
  • Tornado
  • Transport accident
  • Tropical storm
  • Tsunami
  • Typhoon
  • Urban fire
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Wild fire
  • Wind storm
  • Water
  • storm
The quake
The following story helps us understand the devastating effects of a natural disaster on human life. Najmah Najfi narrates an account of an earthquake that takes place in the Kazvin area of Iran. She relates her experiences of attempting to help the villagers in the aftermath of the earthquake.
It was almost eleven on a clear September night. The children were in bed, but Shapoor and I were sitting in our garden by the pool enjoying the evening breeze...... with my head thrown back, I was counting the constellations. I knew by name.
Abruptly I forgot the stars. The earth shook under me. I wondered for a moment if I were ill and the feeling of movement if I were ill and the feeling of movement was some sort of hallucination, but I looked into our pool and the water was still sloshing back and forth against the sides.
'An earthquake?' I asked Shapoor.
Again the earth shook, and I hurried into the house, followed by Shapoor, to see if the children were all right. They had been rolled from side to side in their beds but neither had awakened.......
'I must go.' I said (to Shapoor).
'Go where?' he asked.
'Where I am needed.'
'Najmeh, you are a mother.' You are needed don't even know where this earthquake is. It may be a hundred miles from here.
'It is in Iran,' I said. 'That is enough for me.'
'I'm not about to start off to hunt a partridge somewhere in the brush,' Shapoor said.
'I know, take me to Mohsen. That's all I want you to do.'......
At Mohsen's house, the lights were on and Mohsen was dressed and walking back and forth through the living room. He didn't seem surprised to see me. 'I have found little information though we can't get much until morning, I imagine. The earthquake is about ninety or hundred miles from here.'
'In which direction?'
'The Kazvin area.'
He took a rolled map from behind the books in a glass-doored bookcase. He unrolled it and we studied it together. 'Here is Buin.' He put his finger on a point of the map. 'The quake must have been somewhere there.'
I ran my finger over the area. It is a rugged mountain section. 'There must be a hundred villages or more.' I said. And Mohsen added. 'At least a hundred. I have often been there. Many villagers are not even reached by roads.'.....
'Mohsen, we are going to Buin....let's go to the villages, the small ones where others may not think to go. You know this country and I know that common people and how they act in (a) disaster.'
'We cannot go empty handed. It is better to go more slowly and go with a filled basket.'
Mohsen; sat at his telephone. Although there had been aftershocks, the lines weren't down but the switch boards were crowded. Finally he reached three other businessmen who had trucks, and he arranged to have them meet him soon at his place of business in the bazar.
Mohsen lifted me onto the high seat of his truck and got in under the wheel. ' sister, make a list of things most needed.'
'Water comes first.'
'The qanats will be destroyed if the quake is as disastrous as the first reports say.'
'Water, bread, kerosene, matches, blankets, shrouds......'
At the bazar were two trucks. The third friend had not yaet arrived. Although morning was beginning to grey, our headlights attracted a crowd.
'we are going to the earthquake.' Mohsen said.
'If you are going, take this.' One man hurried to his booth in the bazar and came back with an armload of blankets, which he steadied, with his chin to keep them from falling.
'Can you afford-?' Mohsen began, but the man said, 'He who has one blanket is rich when others are without blankets.'
Soon the truck began filling with bread and rice and blankets. I asked for jars and pots and soon we are filling these with clear fresh Tehran water and arranging them so that the water would not be spilled. Some gave money, urging it into our hands.' If you are going, take this.' We had two tents. Kerosene, candles, matches, and ......shrouds.
With the money in my hand, I bought tea and sugar and dates. I bought.....fruits and biscuits.
It was morning before the tree trucks were loaded and we were on our way to the Kazvin area. Still we didn't know just what had happened, but word was coming in that everyone had been crushed by the collapse of their houses.
Seventy miles out of Tehran, we began to see stragglers on the road, morning like sleepwalkers away from the ruin that once been their world.....
The first village at which Mohsen and I stopped was the village of the dead.' Come, Sister,'Mohsen lifted me from the truck and took my hand to help me over the deeply scarred earth.
Together, wordless, we walked toward the earthquake- broken wall of a small village. We stopped a moment and listen for the wailing that accompanies death in my country. We heard, or thought we heard, the movement of big black wings as vultures circled over the village.
'Come, Sister, Mohsen said again, I put my scarf over my nose and mouth in a useless attempt to close out the stench of death. We waited a few feet from the wall. Still we heard no human sound.
Mohsen gestured towards the truck filled with water, bread, tea, sugar, kerosene matches, blankets, shrouds for the burial of the dead.' There is no one living to use these things. ' Mohsen's was scarcely more than a whisper.
Together, we walked all the way around the wall, looking for an opening. There might yet something we could do. There had been but one entrance to the wall and that had been completely closed by a fall of bricks, probably at the first shock. There had been no way of escape from the village. The heavy domed shaped roofs of the mud houses had fallen upon the sleeping people. If any had escaped his fate, the closed wall had prevented him from coming out into the country before the later shocks.
  • Aftermath- period of time following a disastrous event
  • Aftershocks-lesser shocks following the main shock of an earthquake
  • Booth-market stall
  • Brush- dense growth of small trees and shrubs
  • Constellation-group of stars
  • Devastating- causing great destruction
  • Gestures- made a motion with a hand or head to express something
  • Hallucination- something imagined; an illusion
  • Kerosene- fuel used to light stoves and lamps
  • Lines- telephone lines
  • Partridge- a type of bird
  • Qanats- water canals
  • Quake- earthquake
  • Shrouds- sheet like garments for wrapping corpses for burial
  • Sloshing- splashing
  • Stench- foul smell
  • Stragglers- group of people walking in a disorganised way
  • Wailing child- crying or weeping loudly in high pitched voice 
We turned back to the truck and Mohsen lifted me onto the high seat. Sometime the soldiers would come with their masked faces and shovels to enter the village, clear away the rubble and put quicklime upon the bodies the vultures had not devoured. I saw tears standing in Mohsen's eyes, but I was still too horrified to weep.
We were in the truck before he said, 'Najmeh-jun, the people who built these walls to save themselves built their own tomb.' I looked at Mohsen, and I thought, 'Brother, you said a wise thing. How can we build a wall without walling in the seeds of death and decay and walling out all other things.
'There is a parable,' I told him. 'Once there was a great people who were brave and strong and spread themselves over the Face of the known world, carrying with them music, literature, art, justice and the worship of one God. But time turned and turned again, and the men's hearts grew smaller now they no longer spread themselves into other lands. They stopped where they were and built walls. They built walls of masonry to keep out the sand, the robber, the invading armies, they built walls of fear and ignorance and superstition to keep out new developments, new philosophies.'
Then I was silent for a time and we both listened to the labouring of the truck's engine and steadied ourselves with difficulty against the jolts in the destroyed road.
Finally Mohsen said, 'What is the end of this fable? Did an earthquake destroy these people?'
'I do not want an earthquake in my story. I want a happier ending. Yet something must destroy the walls.'
Again we were without words, but fire then one day, came a wind. It was not a tornado. Rather it was a first small zephyr that later grew to be persuasive breeze. The wind blew against the walls, but the walls resisted the pressure.
'Finally the wind circled around and around the walls until it found a slight break, Through this fissure it blew its breath until the break grew larger and larger, and finally the wall crumbled and disappeared. Now this did not happen all at once, but grain of sand. Sometimes the breeze found a gate perhaps that had been left open especially for it, and then it carried its breath into the walls.'
'and then?' Mohsen asked. 'Is that the end of the fable":
'I don't know. I wish that I did know.' 'And are you the wind, Najmeh-jun?' 'I am part of the wind. A very small part.
'And you have found a fissure in the wall, Sister?'
'Some crevices, perhaps. But even as I have found these crevices, I have discovered that the walls are heavier, more formidable than I dreamed of. They are built not only of ignorance and fear and superstition – but of the pain of others.'
And there in the distance were the tumble walls of another village.
As we drew near, we discovered that only about three houses had been crumpled. The living were shocked into immobility. No words came from their mouths. First, we must find the mulla of this village if he still lives,' I told Mohsen and Mohsen went for him.
Shortly he came back with the old man, who was twisting his hands and crying, 'wherein have we sinned hat God has settled his wrath upon us? Wherein we have sinned?'
I spoke sternly to hi. I was the father and he the child. Father,' I said, 'it is for you to lift up your heart.
To stand there wailing now is indeed a sin. Help us to find those in need of water and food so that we can give it to them.'
'Water? Food?' He still twisted his hands together, but he went away and in a moment there came a file of wounded and hungry from the village. We had set up tents as a first-aid centre and I was trying to bring a child with a broken leg. A white bone protruded from the child's calf. 'This boy is broken,' the mother wailed, 'you must put him in your truck and take him to a doctor' .
'There is no doctor.'
'In Tehran,' the mother insisted. 'This boy is broken. '
I took the child's foot. As I jerked the leg straight he screamed but the bone disappeared inside his leg and to medicate and bandage the wound. 'He must not walk,' I said.
'You are not any more human,' the mother accused me.
How could I make her understand that our trucks must distribute supplies? that one child's leg could not delay the saving of many lives?........
For three nights and days, we worked in the earthquake area. With two tents, three trucks, twelve men to take the seriously injured — perhaps the dying — to the hospitals and to bring back more supplies for relief, six men taking shovels to help with the burials, and two to give out the shrouds and water for the washing of the dead.
As we moved our relief supplies to a third village, whole groups of hungry stragglers met us on the road with their hands pulling at their lower lips in a sign of hunger. For these, we left food and blankets.
Three days and nights and we had reached only three villages. This was not a drop of water in an ocean. More than a hundred villages had been destroyed. Fifty out of ninety inhabitants had died. The fault thirty miles beneath the surface was sixty miles long and twenty-five miles wide. In the city of Bum, 3,000 of the 6,000 people had died in one horrifying minute.....
In Danesfashen,, where 4,500 people lived. 3,200 perished. This was the epicenter of the quake.....
In some the remote villages where supplies and help had to be taken in by donkey, the people huddled in the ruins of their villages without food or water for three or four days.
But in spite of the sleepwalking horror of these nights and days, there were some heartening things. Help came from all over the world, from Finland to New Zealand. Within the twenty-eight hours from the time of the first shock, an American hospital, housed in tents and manned by doctors and nurses, had arrived by air from West Germany.
Calamity is a big stick that stirs the hearts of everyone. And when I returned home, I couldn't believe that Shapoor was interested in a crack in our garden wall, opened with that first shock on that quiet, starry September evening.

  • calamity- disaster, great misfortune
  • crevice- narrow cracks or openings
  • devoured- ate hungrily or greedily
  • epicentre- point on the earth's surface immediately above the earthquake
  • fissure- a long narrow split of crack
  • formidable- strong, hard to destroy or overcome
  • heartening- uplifting, cheering
  • immobility- in a state of not being able to move
  • masonry- stonework
  • mulla- religious scholar or leader
  • parable- a story with a moral lesson
  • protrude- jutted out
  • quicklime- a white alkaline substance ( calcium oxide)
  • tornado- a violent storm with whirling winds
  • universal applicable everywhere
  • zephr- a mild gentle wind or breeze
Painting to be somewhere else
'Adapted from the Radio Afghanistan, Website, 2003
Disasters caused by humans can be devastating as those arising from natural causes. Wars and conflicts are human 'earthquakes' that bring about great loss of life and suffering. In the following account we see the world through the eyes of Shahnaz, one of the victims of the war in Afghanistan that took place in the 1990s.
I am 12 years old and my name is Shahnaz, which means 'princess' in our language. I live in Kamaz, a camp for displaced people near Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of Afghanistan. I came here a year ago with all of my family, except for my two little sisters Razia and Zainab. They were killed by bombs.
'Before, we lived in a large house not far from the centre of Kabul, the capital city. But the war turned our lives upside down. When the bombings began in Kabul in 1992, we had to leave our home. In the three years since then, rockets have chased us away many times from the different friends or relations we have stayed with.
'I'll never forget the last place we stayed. We had been hiding in a shelter for several months. One day, when things got a bit quieter and the bombing was not so intense, my two little sisters went outside to go to the toilet. A rocket fell on a neighbor's house and the blast destroyed the toilets. My sisters were killed outfight.
'Things went crazy after that. The bombing was twice as heavy and we decided we had to get right away from that hell. But it was impossible to leave at the time and for six long months we had to stay in the shelter. Finally, in March 1995, we managed to escape on a lorry heading for Mazar-i-Sharif, where things were calmer.
'Aziza, another sister, couldn't endure all the horror we experienced, the death of our two little sisters and all the bombs. It's as though she's wearing a mask. Her face is completely rigid. She can't move the muscles and she can't smile any more. We only know that sometimes she laughs because we see little crinkles around her eyes. And she sings if she is happy.
'My mother is very sad too. She's very tired and cries a lot. The Kamaz camp contains displaced from Kabul. Most of them have been living here for at least three years. We were amongst the last to arrive.
'Life in the camp is not much fun. Our house is very small — there is only one room for us all to eat, sleep and study in. There are seven of us: my parents, my big sister, Zarafshan (14), and my three younger sisters Aziza (10), Shukria (6) and Nekbar (4). The five of us girls and my mother all sleep under the same while my father sleeps apart under a separate blanket.
'Our house in Kabul had much more room. There were two main rooms. A kitchen and a bathroom with a proper toilet. We had a garden and a well — much easier to have clean water there.
'Here, things are not so well arranged. We have to fetch water from a common tap and the toilets are also public. That's not much fun if you have to go out at night to use them. It's very dark and there are no lights — I really hate it.'
Before, we had beautiful carpets, the very best quality, it's very important in our culture to have carpets we use the floor a lot and hardly ever have chairs. When we eat, we spread a cloth on the floor and sit around it cross-legged or on cushions.
In Kmaz, we have no carpets. Not even one. There blankets and the plastic sheets provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which give some protection from the cold damp. Fortunately, we have a small stove, a bukhari.
I've really had enough of living in this muddy camp. And I'm not the only one. We are all fed up with it. Sure, we are alive and we have a roof over our heads —but what will happen to us in the future?
'Nobody wants to spend their whole life on this bit of clayed ground. The situation is very difficult for my father. Like most of the people here, he has no regular work. He accepts any little job that comes up, no what it is as long as he earns a bit of money to buy food.
'Last week, he worked as a porter, today s a bricklayer and tomorrow? Well, we'll see. Uncertainty is the only thing that certain here. Sometimes my father gives up completely and can't see any way out of our situation. At these times, he goes to the blue mosque in Sharif to pull himself together again. I know prays for us all, so that God will protect us and no more awful things will happen to us.
'I love that blue mosque. I go there every week. Before the war, Muslims from all over the world used to go there on pilgrimage because it is one of the most important Islamic sites.......
'I'm lucky to be going to school, that's because my father was so determined and would be very unhappy if he had to send us out to work. He often says, 'to be illiterate is a little like being blind; and it is hard to understand the world if you can't see it.'
'I know other girls who spend their time begging for a little bit of food in the town bazaar and others who have to weave carpets all day lung. In Kabul, I used to sew, just for fun. I sewed dresses for my dolls.
'Sometimes, when I really can't take any more of this war, I climb onto the roof of our house and I imagine that I am somewhere else, in some magnificent place that doesn't look anything at all like Kamaz. I don't really know where that is, perhaps in Kabul, perhaps not- But it's very beautiful. I dream of my life before the war. I sew and I'm happy and forget my worries.'
  • clayey- made of clay
  • crinkles - wrinkles
  • displaced people - refugees; those forced to leave their homes because of war or persecution
  • endure - bear or face difficulty
  • illiterate - uneducated: unable to read
  • outright- instantly

Rebuilding Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a country that has been affected by both natural disasters and many years of war and conflict. Millions of people have become refugees, with their towns, villages and homes destroyed. The people of Afghanistan face a great struggle in the years to come to establish peace in their region and to rebuild their country. In the following address, Mawlana Hazir Imam speaks of how the AKDN is helping people in Afghanistan, as they begin their long journey in search of a better quality of life.

Keynote Speech Concluding the Prince Claus Fund's Conference on Culture and Development by Mawlana Hazir Imam
07 September 2992, Amsterdam
'......l would like to say something about the work that the Age Khan Development Network has recently launched in Afghanistan. The scenario is dramatic; a country destroyed by decades of war, lacking basic infrastructure, economic resources, institutional fabric, and suffering from strong antagonistic social and religious forces.
'The government must also facilitate the return to the country of hundreds of thousands of displaced families, feed the population, restore agricultural production, provide essential social services, eradicate drug-related crops and their ancillary industries, and last, but most essentially, consolidate a culture of tolerance, based on the mutual understanding between peoples of different origins and languages.
'In this context, the Aga Khan Development Network has started work in Afghanistan based on an accord signed with the Government. In the first phase, priority is being given to responding to the most pressing problems.
'Activities that are underway include the provision of humanitarian aid to address the food shortage in the country and the needs of hundreds of thousands of displaced people, by facilitating the resettlement of refugees, and by undertaking the rehabilitation of buildings and public works required to provide basic social services.
'Simultaneously, planning is underway to help address the country's needs in terms of building human and institutional capacity for social and economic
development. Steps are being taken to revive and update date institutions for the training of teachers and nurses to meet the needs of urban and rural populations.
'Work is underway on the reform of school curriculum in accordance with the government's guidelines and current international experience, and making basic health services accessible to all.
'A microfinance facility is being established to provide financing for agriculture, micro-enterprise business including cultural enterprises, and the special needs of refugees returning to properties that have been destroyed.
'In all of this work, the cultural dimension is pivotal because of the pluralistic nature of Afghan culture, and the severe stress it has endured in the recent past. As an initial undertaking, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture is working in Kabul on the rehabilitation of the historic fabric of the ancient city, its monumental buildings, and historic houses and decayed public spaces.
'These projects are centred around two historic sites: the Mausoleum of Timur Shah, considered by many to be the founder of modern Afghanistan and the Paradise Garden of Babur, the founder of Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent, range from the lofty — the preservation of symbolic monuments of Afghan history and cultural identity, to the very practical -immediate employment opportunities and the rebuilding of marketable skills.
'All of them are essential to enable the people of Afghanistan to rebuild their country in peace and dignity.'
  • accord - agreement
  • ancillary - supportive
  • antagonistic- hostile, opposed
  • consolidate' strengthen
  • eradicate - destroy
  •  institutional fabric- network of institutions  
  • lofty- high, noble
  • marketable skills - skills related to professions and occupations that are in demand
  • Micro enterprise- small businesses and industries
  • Microfinance facility- a means of lending small loans to people in need
  • Rehabilitation- restoration of building or object to its former condition
  • Revive- reactivate, renew
  • Scenario- scene, situation
    Review questions and activities
Reflecting on the text
What impact do human and natural disasters have on communities? What are some examples of these disasters? What role do relief agencies play in helping people affected by disasters?
What kind of help does Focus Humanitarian Assistance provide in a relief agency?
What do we learn from the Iranian story about the impact of earthquakes can have on the lives of people?
What do you understand with the parable about the wind and the wall in the story?
Describe some of the experiences and dilemmas faced by the writer in attempting to help the victims of the earthquake.
How was the life of Shahnaz and her family shattered by the war in Afghanistan? How did Shahnaz feel about her new home?
Refer to Mawlana Hazir Imam's speech on page 118. Give some examples of AKDN programmes that are helping people of Afghanistan rebuild their country.
Do a project on major natural disaster that has occurred in recent years in a selected part of the world. Compare the lives of people in the affected areas before, during and after the disaster.
Alternatively, do a project on a disaster brought about by human factors, such as the Bhopal and Chernobyl catastrophes. Collect key information of the impact of disaster on local communities.
Select a relief aid agency that is active in administering emergency support to people suffering from a disaster. Find out more about the exact nature of help it provides.
Do a research study to examine short- term and long term difficulties faced by communities affected by disasters. What is involved in helping communities to become self-reliant once more?
Using your knowledge of geography and science, explain how natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods occur.
For people of poor countries, long- term help is more important than short-term aid during emergencies: To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view. Explain your reasons.
What measures are needed to help people become self-reliant rather than dependent on aid in the period following a disaster?
Natural and human disasters can seriously damage the development of communities. Relief aid and long-term support is vital to helping them rebuild their lives.
5.2   Fighting hunger disease and poverty
Basic necessities of life
All human beings need the basic necessities of life, without which they cannot survive. Among these needs are a regular supply of safe water, nutrition and shelter from the forces of nature. Human communities cannot function normally without meeting these needs.
In modern times, large numbers of people around the world find themselves without these basic necessities. They do not have access to clean water because their existing water sources may have dried up or become polluted. Their government may not have enough resources to build water system for all of its population.
Poor communities may also lack adequate or balanced food supplies. Small landholding farmers may suffer from drought, pests and soil erosion, causing their land to yield poor crops.
Poor communities may also lack proper shelter, whether they live in urban or rural areas. They may live in slum areas, where their homes are made from makeshift material, and which lack electricity, water and a sewage system.
Problems arising from the lack of basic needs
Clean water is a basic need required for maintaining the biological health of the body. Water is needed not only for drinking, cooking and washing. On farms it is also needed for irrigation. The lack of clean can lead to variety of diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery and typhoid.
A regular and balanced food diet is another necessity for human beings to survive. A large number of people suffer from malnutrition because key foods are missing from their diet, such as proteins and vitamins. On–going malnutrition can severely retard children's growth.
Ill- health may be worsened by people living in poor shelters. Unhygienic conditions in slum areas, such as the lack of sewerage, may lead to the breeding of germs and spread of diseases. The very young and the aged are particularly vulnerable in these kinds of environments. The shelters in which they live may have inadequate ventilation, light and heating in cold climates. They may suffer damp conditions, smoke inhalation from stoves, and overcrowded conditions.

Water and sanitation facts
  • More than 1.5 billion people do not have access to a safe and adequate water supply. This number could increase to 2.3 billion by 2025.
  • More than 200 million hours are spent each day by women and female children walking to collect water from distant, often polluted sources.
  • Of the 37 major diseases in developing countries, 21 are water and sanitation related.
  • The leading cause of child death in the world is diarrhea.
  • A third of the people in developing countries are infected with intestinal worms that can be controlled through better water, hygiene and sanitation. These parasites can lead to malnutrition, anemia and retarded growth.
  • At any given time, half the people in developing countries are suffering from water related diseases.
(, 2003) 
Diarrhoea- a killer disease
Diarrhoea kills over 1 million children every year through dehydration and malnutrition. Children are more than adults to die from this illness because they become dehydrated more quickly.
Diarrhoea is caused by germs that are swallowed, especially germs from feces, poor hygiene practices or a lack of clean drinking water, or when infants are not breastfed.
Diarrhoea kills children by draining liquid from the body, thus dehydrating the child. As soon as darrhoea starts, it is essential that the child be given extra fluids as well as regular foods and fluids.
Diarrhoea usualy cures itself in a few days. The best treatment for it is to drink lots of fluids and oral redehyration salts (ORS) properly mixed with water.
In places where ORS is not available, parents can treat dehydration with four level teaspoons of sugar and half a level teaspoon of salt dissolved in one litre of clean water. This solution has to be carefully made, as too much salt can be extremely harmful to the child.
(Source: UNICEF, 2003) 
Malaria- the silent killer
Malaria is a serious disease spread through mosquito bites. Each year there are 300 million to 500 million cases of malaria through out the world and about one million child deaths. In areas where malaria is common, it can be the leading cause of death and poor growth among young children.
Malaria is also particularly dangerous for pregnant women. It causes severe anemia, miscarriages, stillbirths, low birth weight and maternal death.
Many lives can be saved by the prevention and early treatment of malaria. Since it is transmitted through mosquito bites, sleeping under a mosquito net treated with recommended insecticides is the best way to prevent the disease.
Families and communites can also prevent malaria by taking action to stop mosquitoes from breeding.
Mosquitoes breed where ever there is still water- for example in ponds, swamps, puddles, pits, drains and in the moisture on long grass and bushes. They can also breed along the edges of streams and in water containers, tanks and rice fields.
The number of mosquitoes can be reduced by;
  • Filling in or draining places where water collects;
  • Covering water containers or tanks
  • Clearing bushes around houses.
(Source: UNICEF, 2003) 
A schoolmaster's story
Ezbon tieno headmaster of Kangombe village primary school in Nyakach
I suppose I have always had an interest in community development ... right since 1973 when I started teaching: I saw that my community lacked so many things. But it was the education of our children that most concerned me at that time. I noticed that most of our children didn't go to nursery school. "Why don't they?" I asked myself. I discovered that the schools were too far away—and this place floods very often, so the journey was difficult.
'So I started talking to our people. I used to leave the station where was teaching then and come home at the weekends. Some of us began to meet and discuss possible projects. We asked ourselves, "Why don't we begin to do things on our own?"
'We collected money from the community and built a nursery school. We started adult education classes so that people could become literate, become proud to write their names, and learn a little more about life. Eventually, the nursery school became a primary school. Then we asked ourselves, "From this, what?"
'In 1984, I saw vehicles coming around here. I saw the staff of the Aga Khan Health Service coming to talk with people in their homes. Right from the first time we met with the Aga Khan stat we saw them surrender their professional arrogance, surrender their importance. They sat with us in a circle, on equal terms. There was no leader's chair.
'At that time, I was head of the lower primary school here. So I talked with them and I came to know that they were going to help us to develop. Since then, together, we have been able to achieve quite a lot. We have achieved a number of physical things, but more important, many of the people here have gained the awareness, the knowledge and the few skills that we need to run our own community development programmes.
'In those first few meetings, we talked about problems of this area. And we identified water as the main problem. The water people were drinking were awful. So we decided that we must have clean water. We targeted having at least four water points- and we ended up with five! We have pump attendants, and each woman's group is in charge of its own water.
'We then began to think of ways that people here could improve their incomes. We thought of honey — and today we have about a hundred hives. We have a honey refinery in Nyakac emanated from this place, Kangombe, and building a drug dispensing centre in Kango run by the people themselves.
'All this has given me great satisfaction — seeing things work, seeing people develop, seeing people have what they didn't have before. That gives me great pride.'

A Volunteer's story

Source: AKF (1992)' Project Brief, Kisumu Primary Health Care Project The Aga Khan Health Services.' Geneva: AKF.P.3
Richard Agalo volunteer community health worker Pedo village
Richard Agalo is collecting a supply of drugs from the Nurse at the Health Centre in Pap-Onditi.
He is one of the 614 voluntary health workers who selected by their neighbours and trained by Aga Khan Health Service since 1984. Two days each week, Richard volunteers his time to inform and educate his neighbours in Pedo village about health matters; the importance of immunizing at an early age, constructing and using pit latrines, providing water from protected sources, or nutritious foods. The rest of the week, he works on his own small farm.
At a community health week, Richard receives no pay when he does his rounds of the homesteads or talks with women's groups; he wears no special uniform; he has only a small badge, to signify the trust community has placed in him — and the training he has received in preventive health care.
'I am happy that I can be of help to people around my home.' Richard says. 'When I heard that volunteers were needed, I realised that a lot could be done to tackle the many problems that affect my community: and I was particularly concerned about the diseases that attack small children.
'My work involves encouraging the people to come together to solve their own problems. It might he to dig a water hole, for example, or to protect the water source. The people in my area were sometimes using unsafe water, and they didn't realise that it was making their children ill.
'Also, through my training, l have learned that the women who are bearing children must be encouraged to attend a clinic. And, when the babies are born, they must be taken regularly to the clinic — and checked up on afterwards in the homes by the health worker
'I can see now that what I am doing is making a difference in my village. The children are not suffering so much from diarrhea and vomiting. So I am a happy man.'
  • Arrogance -  pride
  • Drug dispensing centre - a place where medicine is made available
  • Emanated - originated
  • Homesteads - farmhouses
  • Immunising - vaccinating
  • Literate:- educated, able to read
  • Pit latrines -: a hole is dug in the ground for use as toilets
Review questions and activities
Reflecting on the text
What is meant by the term 'basic necessities'?
To what extent do people in poor countries have access to basic necessities?
What are some of the outcomes of the lack of basic necessities in the developing countries?
What are some of the problems caused by the lack of safe drinking water?
What kind of disease is diarrhea?
Why is it fatal, and how can it be prevented from occurring?
What do we learn from the school master's story about how AKDN agencies help people in rural areas meet their basic needs?
What role can voluntary service play in community development? How do AKDN agencies rely on volunteers to help their local communities?
What different development needs are mentioned in the two examples in this section? How are these needs inter- related?
Find out more about the work of AKHS in rural areas of Asia and Africa. Do a case study report on one of AKHS projects and make a presentation of it in your class.
Compile a fact sheet on diarrhea that teaches parents and children about this disease. Make additional fact sheets on water- related diseases.
Develop a plan for making safe water available to people living in a village in a remote part of Africa or Asia. What kinds of resources and skills would you require to acheive your aim? What part would the villagers play in your project?
Imagine you are a volunteer offering your help to people in your local community. Write an account of the kind of assistance you could offer, based on your special interests, skills and knowledge.
Using your knowledge of science, find out how water related diseases such as malaria are caused. What are some ways in which these diseases can be prevented?
Providing safe water to people in poor countries is not of much use if their other basic needs are not met. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?
If resources are scarce, how would you help people in need decide what is of priority to them?
One of the important goals of AKDN agencies is helping communities in developing parts of the world meet their basic needs.
5.3  The means to earn a living
Rural and urban poverty
Millions of people suffer from absolute poverty in both rural and urban areas of the world. In rural areas, communities often live in harsh and isolated conditions, such as mountainous regions. They suffer from adverse climatic changes that cause floods, storms and droughts. Rural communities are heavily dependent upon their land for their food. When the crops fail, these communities become exposed to famine.
To escape from rural poverty large number of people migrate to urban areas every year. They leave their homes in the hope of finding a better life in the cities. However, they find themselves worse off if they are not able to find jobs to sustain them. They may be forced to live on the streets or in slums where the conditions are terrible.
People who do not have access to basic necessities of life find themselves unable to escapee absolute poverty. They constantly have to battle against hunger, ill- health and homelessness to survive.
The struggle in the rural areas
The majority of the world's population is located in the rural areas. Their main way of earning a living is through subsistence farming. The crops they produce on their farms and fields is used to support their families. Any surplus is bartered for other goods or sold in the local markets.
However, an expanding population in the rural areas has resulted in a scarcity of land. A limited farming area means that the land cannot support all the families, and many people have to migrate to urban centres.
In addition, other factors make it difficult for small farmers to earn their living from the land. Farmers faced with poor land find it difficult to grow their crops. Bad weather further restricts yields. Insufficient rainfall in any year can reduce harvests by a significant amount.
The pressure to produce more food from a limited farming area results in the overuse of the fields and the acceleration of soil erosion. As a result, small farmers in poor countries are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living from their land.
Unemployment in urban areas
In urban areas too, earning a living poses a major difficulty for millions of people around the world. Many workers in developing countries find themselves performing very low paid jobs. They have to put in hard labour and long hours in these jobs, and are exposed to poor working conditions. The salary they earn is not enough to support their families.
In periods when the economy slows down, workers risk losing their jobs and may find themselves unemployed for long periods of time. Unskilled workers are particularly affected, since they may not be able to find new work easily. Many jobs in today's industries require specialized skills.
The quality of life families on very low income is severely affected. They do not have enough income to pay for their food, rent, clothing, medicine and school fees. Such families find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty, which extends from one generation to the next.
Women and Work
Women in many parts of the world face additional difficulties in finding work. They have to struggle against attitudes in their society that restrict their participation in public places.
In many countries, women have reduced opportunities for education, especially at secondary and university levels. They find themselves discriminated against in work places because of their gender. They get paid lower salaries than men, and are not promoted to higher positions in their workplace.
In poor families, women lack the skills required for them to find work outside their homes. They may be forced into marriage from an early age, find themselves engaged in domestic labour. They are unable to improve the quality of life of their children without adequate education.
Under conditions of extreme poverty, women may suffer from domestic abuse. They are often not in a position to seek outside help and support under these conditions.
Mallika's story 
Helping women in Bangladesh overcome poverty 

BRAC is nongovernmental organisation (NGO) that operates in Bangladesh and Afghanistan. BRAC reaches out to the poorest of people in rural areas, assisting in the areas of education, health and economic development.
BRAC programmes helps people in rural areas become self-reliant. It developed a scheme that provided small loans or credit to groups of villagers. The people in these groups consisted of landless farmers, fishermen, artisans and the destitute. They also include a large number of divorced or widowed women.
BRAC trained the groups to acquire skills in reading, numeracy, raising livestock and poultry, producing silk, and running small businesses. B also encouraged people in each group to save and deposit money each week.. As the savings grew, they were able to receive low interest loans or credit to help them start their own businesses. This approach became known as 'micro-financing' because it dealt with small amounts of money.
Since these groups did not have access to banks and money-lenders, the scheme proved particularly valuable to them. It set them on the read to becoming self-reliant instead of being burdened with heavy payments to pay off the high interest money-lenders. By the end of 2002, the scheme had over 45000 borrowers in 61 districts of Bangladesh.
In the following account, we read how BRAC's scheme has helped one widowed woman to look towards a brighter future.
Mallika grew up in desperate poverty in the village of Dapunia north of Dhaka. Ten of her brothers and sisters died, leaving just one brother and herself. She married a tailor who died after a prolonged illness, leaving Mallika and her three children destitute. This is her story.
I faced a very bad hardship and thought, "If I remain idle like this, my children will die," And Then I started to work in other people's houses. I was fasting, yet processing (rice) paddy for them the whole day. They did not give me food. In the evening, they used to-give me quarter kilo or khud (broken rice). 'I used to cook that with plenty of water and feed my children, How long could they eat such food?
'After that year, I went to Ape (the BRAG group leader). Apa said, "You deposit 25 poisha (100 poisha in a taka and like this, begin a group." When I came back home, i thought, "Why should I deposit 25 poisha to Apa? I can keep this at home." Then I kept 25 poisha aside one day, but the next day I spent it.
'Then started depositing 25 poisha, but sometimes only 10 poisha, After four weeks, she said, "You have deposited one taka so far," Then I thought Apa gave very good advice, I could not keep a poisha at home, but I could keep it with Apa and it was increasing.
'In the month of Chaitra (April), Apa gave me some books to read, I thought. "If I can read Bengali, it will help me.' I used to finish my housework quickly; cooked and fed my children and then went to study.
'Then I took some taka from my account and started paddy processing, was making a profit. Then Apa helped me by lending me 300 takas. Then we started paddy processing on behalf of the group with 300 takas capital. We made very good profit. We are 17 members in the group and we all work well together. Wherever we go, we all go together.
'Now my son is reading in Class V. My daughter is also studying. By the grace of Allah, am living happily.
'Before did not know how to grow trees, after reading those books, now I know how to grow trees and to benefit from them. For lack of taka, I could not rear poultry before. I have bought poultry now. I have made some profit.
Now my children and myself can eat eggs as well as sell some. Before, I sold my sari to feed my children and my self. I do not need to sell my sari but can sell hens, chicken and eggs. I grew a palm rice and there were about 100 dates, we all ate, sold and gave to the neighbours.
'I have grown bananas. I sell the bananas; give to group members and also to my neighbours. I say to them, "Before I used to take from you all, now you can take from me."
'Before, [men in the village] used to is talking loudly, she is bad. She is shameless. This woman must be divorced." Since we have begun this group, we go wherever we want to BRAC office. Sometimes we go to the other villages to see other group members and inquire about their welfare. But those men do not say anything nowadays.
'Now we will not cast our vote according to the choice of others. We are 80 women in in the four groups, and we will cast our vote for a poor man because the poor will understand our difficulties.
'When we hold meetings, we ask about each other's joys and sorrows. Some will say,' I was passing very hard times. But after joining the group, I am better now.'
  • Capital- the money used for starting a business
  • Paddy processing- cultivation of rice
  • Poultry- domestic fowl, e.g. chicken
  • Sari- a garment of silk or cotton draped round the body, worn by women in South Asia
  • Taka- unit of currency in Bangladesh
Review questions and activities
Reflecting on the text
What kind of dilemmas do people in the rural areas face in earning their living?
What difficulties were encountered by workers in urban centres of poor countries?
What impact does insufficient income have on the quality of life of a family?
Why do women in many countries face greater disadvantage in finding work and earning an adequate living?
Which groups of people are the special concerns of BRAC? In which parts of the world foes this agency operate.
What is 'micro financing scheme'? How does BRAC help poor people in rural areas generate income?
What does Mallika's story teach us about the way in which the credit scheme works? What problems might be encountered in running this scheme?
Examine national and local newspapers published over the past month. Collect news items and articles that are about problems faced by families in earning an adequate income. What are some of the main problems faced by people in your country in earning their living?
Do a case study of a programme by AKDN agency or partner organisation that helps people in poor countries generate their own income. Discuss some of the challenges faced by development agencies in mounting these kinds of programmes.
Draw a chart that explains how Mallika's group could build up their savings to generate greater wealth, which in turn can be used to increase their savings. At what point will they become self-reliant?
Review the skill that Mallika acquired in her group that enabled her to start earning an income. Design a training programme that will help women such as Mallika acquire useful knowledge and skills. What kinds of resources would you need to mount such a training programme in rural areas of poor countries?
How can people in the poor countries be helped to improve their capacity to earn a living?


  • Credit
  • Micro funding schemes
  • Self-help programmes

Review the work you have done in your mathematic class about calculating interest on borrowed amounts of money? How is interest earned on money saved in the bank over a period of time?
What special problems do women in your country face in seeking work and earning an income? What are some of the underlying causes of these difficulties, and how can they be overcome?
What additional problems do widowed and divorced women face in seeking to become self-reliant?
Development agencies such as BRAC play an important role in helping the poorest of people in rural areas raise income to support themselves.

Review of Unit: Lifelines of hope
Review questions
5.1   A helping hand in times of crisis
What impact do humans and natural disasters have on communities?
What are some examples of these disasters?
What role do relief agencies play in helping people affected by disasters?
What kind of help does Focus Humanitarian Assistance provide as relief agency?
What do we learn from the Iranian story about the impact of earthquakes can have on the lives of people?
How was the life of Shahnaz and her family affected by the war in Afghanistan? How did Shahnaz feel about her new home?
Give some examples of AKDN programmes that are helping the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country 

5.2  Fighting hunger, disease and poverty 

What is meant by the term 'basic necessities'? to what extent do people in poor countries have access to these basic necessities?
What are some of the outcomes of the lack of basic necessities in developing countries?
What are some of the problems caused by the lack of safe drinking eater?
What kind of disease is diarrhoea? Why it is fatal, and how can it be prevented from occurring?
What do we learn from the schoolmaster's story on how AKDN agencies help people in rural areas meet their basic needs?
What role can voluntary service play in community development? How do AKDN agencies use volunteers to help their local communities?

5.3   The means to earn a living

What kinds of dilemmas do people in rural and urban areas face in earning their living?
What impact does insufficient income have on the quality of life of a family?
Why do women face greater disadvantage in finding work and earning an adequate living?
What is a 'micro-financing' scheme? How does BRAC help poor people in rural areas raise income?
What does Mallika's story teach us about the way in which the credit scheme works?


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