While the world gets “more organised”, with various institutions in place and advocating in various ways to promote living in harmony, the lives of humanitarian workers and those that they seek to serve seem to be increasingly endangered. In some of the places where IAS and other humanitarian agencies serve, it is almost a norm that workers are harassed in different ways on a daily basis.
IAS joins the world humanitarian community on this year’s World Humanitarian Day to remind the world that as we serve in the difficult areas and seek to alleviate suffering, some of which is man-made, as well as that caused by natural effects, we would like to serve without fearing for our own lives. It becomes sad when the resources that are intended to serve the suffering are either targeted and destroyed, or a significant amount has to be used just to ensure that the people safe. In some of the world’s environments where we fear for the lives of workers each day it is increasingly becoming expensive to just operate to deliver aid. We do not think this should be so!
The communities we serve are #NotaTarget (Photo: International Aid Services)
Our Teams are #NotaTarget (Photo: International Aid Services)
Despite these challenges, we continue to be thankful for our teams that have served with endurance is some of the hard-to-reach areas despite the challenges. When teams have been ambushed on the road and robbed, or attacked in the offices or their residence quarters, we have not given up and left the people that are facing unspeakable suffering.
On this day we join with others to declare that we are #NotaTarget as we serve! The communities that we serve are #NotaTarget! Our equipment or service vehicles are #NotaTarget! We join others to call for a cessation of attacks on humanitarian workers and civilians in whatever form.
// Milward Mwamvani (Humanitarian Coordinator)
ANGOLO EAST VILLAGE – Ailang District – UGANDA
Walking long distances to fetch water takes time and effort. The heavy responsibility usually falls upon women and girls which means that girls don’t have time to go to school. Walking long distances is also a safety issue because of the risk of assault.
Therefore, we are always striving to ensure shortest distance possible, for people to walk to the nearest waterpoint. Our goal is that a person should have to walk maximum 500 meters to fetch water. By doing this we create safety and also reduce exclusion!
Photo: Patrik Eriksson
Two Schools in Dalarna fundraised more than 11 621 USD for IAS project with school lunches in Kenya. Many thanks to all the students for your great support!
Free Aid is a school concept where students at Söderbaumska School and Mosaik Free School together fundraise money by working at companies or at home for a day. Last year the students collected 7 946 USD for one of IAS projects in Ethiopia and this year they were determined to beat last year’s record. Carolina Sundin, principle at Mosaik Free School is proud to say that they did.
-We are very proud of our students who altogether collected 11 621 USD! The students have been very determined and they worked hard to reach the goal of beating last year’s record. The result was far beyond expectations, says Carolina.
Sponsoring school lunches
The students baked, cleaned, made the garden or worked at different companies. This year the money raised is channeled to IAS project in Tharaka, Kenya where Linas Food Basket (Linas Matkassse) together with IAS serve school lunches for school children. The students also organized a concert in the evening with music performances to which they invited family and friends and where the gate money went to the project.
-All parents know that children who are hungry have difficulties to concentrate. In Kenya 40 % of the country’s population lives in poverty, and many families are farmers depending on rain. When the rains fail and the crops die, it becomes extremely difficult for these people and they can barely feed their own family, says Mary Githiomi, Country Director, IAS Kenya.
School lunches will help children´s learning
When children are left out from breakfast and lunch, it’s hard for them to learn and concentrate.
-By providing children with school lunches, we make sure that they will continue their education. We have seen a major difference since the project started; the children have better health, they play more and they attend school, says Mary.
IAS is cooperating with different schools in Sweden to fundraise money for our projects. This spring we worked together with Åkerö School, Söderbaumska School and Free School Mosaik, all based in the north part of Sweden. Many thanks to The Åkerö School, who this year collected 1 730 USD.
If your school is interested to get involved with us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Text: Rebecka Woods
Foto: Patrik Eriksson-
To pour a glass of water is something that many of us take for granted, we just go to the tap and fill it up. For many girls and women in Kenya an everyday thing like having access to water can be associated with extreme danger. This used to be true for Joyce Kennedy, 19, from Kenya.
This is Joyce Kenedy, 19 years old, from Tharaka, Nithi County, Kenya. Ten years ago almost nothing could grew in this area, and people were completely dependent on the rainy season. Lack of rain resulted in crops destroyed which lead to famine. To fetch water for her family Joyce used to walk several kilometers every day, which often meant dangerous walks in the evenings where she risked being vulnerable to sexual violence.
– Often when I went to fetch water men shouted after me and called me names. It made me scared and I didn’t feel safe. Constantly being exposed to this was very stressful, says Joyce.
A few years ago IAS built a water irrigation system in Tharaka where water is taken from a nearby river and distributed to 130 local farmers so that they can grow vegetables and fruits. The purpose of this was so the farmers would become self-sufficient and not dependent on rainy seasons. For Joyce and her family, it means that they receive water directly to their house from a water pipe.
– Now when we get water directly into the garden we are able to grow food to sell at the market. I also no longer need to be exposed to the risks that came with these walks, says Joyce.
IAS in Kenya
IAS has been working in Kenya since 1994 and currently has five projects in the country. The focus is implementing education, water, hygiene and sanitation, peace-prevention measures and relief aid in different parts of the country. This project was funded by the Swedish Mission Council l, Erikshjälpen, Linas Matkasse and Mockfjärds Fönster.
Text and photo: Rebecka Woods
Donate now to help us give more people access to clean water.
From left: IAS CEO Daniel Zetterlund together with IAS new Humanitarian Coordinator Milward Mwamvani
January 25th, 2016 //
IAS continues to expand, and this week we are really happy to have our new Humanitarian Coordinator Milward Mwamvani with us at the Head Office. Milward will be responsible for all IAS humanitarian activities and interventions and will continue to improve the quality of IAS projects.
-I hope to see IAS grow and expand into new areas. We need to fill the needs that no one is responding to. As an organization, we have a new strategy for growth called Fit for Purpose, which seeks to see the organization active in countries with great humanitarian needs in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel Region. We know of the present challenges faced by the populations of these regions, and we realize there are gaps in the humanitarian response in those countries, says Milward.
Expanding security work
As a Humanitarian Coordinator Milward will have an overall responsibility for all humanitarian projects, aiming at the qualitative and quantitative growth of the work in each of IAS program countries. One aspect of that includes security.
-Since a majority of the countries where IAS operates experience conflicts and political instability, we want to expand our humanitarian security management. Our teams in the field are doing okay with regard to security considerations today but we want to do even better. This includes training of our staff in conducting security risk and vulnerability assessments and analyzing the security situation for every context. We want to always be prepared, says Milward.
Milward has been working with IAS since 2010, first as Programme Manager and Deputy Country Director, Regional Program Support Officer, then as Program Support Officer from the Head Office, which he doubled with being Country Director for Somalia/Somaliland. He currently lives in Malawi but will be part of IAS office in Sweden, even though he will travel a lot to IAS ten program countries.
Donor countries reducing their aid budgets
-It’s with great humility I take on this new task. It’s not an easy world we live in with an unstable world economy and multiple crises going on, not only in Africa and the Middle East, but also in Europe with the refugee crisis. Donor countries are reducing their aid budget to spend money on the refugee crises in their own countries, which puts the humanitarian work in a tricky situation. Natural occurrences like droughts and floods also continue to put pressure on the already stretched resources.
-I believe that our work is more important than ever given the existing gaps and the immensity of suffering in the conflict-stricken regions of the world. One of IAS’s thematic areas is WASH,(Water, Hygiene and Sanitation) and we know how most of the challenges mentioned above, affect the access to clean water. We will continue to join hands with willing supporters to provide water to the affected communities.
Text: Rebecka Woods
Photo: Håkan Björk & Rebecka Woods
Some years ago, Pader district in northern Uganda had a widespread alcohol abuse. It resulted in much domestic violence and many children dropped out of school. Abel Murungu is Community Development Officer at IAS and is one of those who worked hard to break the negative trend that´s been holding Pader in captive for so long.
-To start up a work in a society where alcohol was equivalent with food was tough. It was understandable that many saw this project as a mission impossible, says Abel.
Abel shows around in the village Puranga, outside the city of Pader, one of the areas that is severly affected by alcohol abuse. Much of the alcohol produced here is consumed in the districts of Pader and Agago, some of the places where IAS has worked with sustainable rural projects for several years. A quality survey showed that the effect of these projects was hampered because of alcoholism. Due to this need Action Against Alcohol (AAA) was started.
Abel points to a couple of bowls with molasses, sorghum, maize, and cassava, some of the most common products used for brewing alcohol.
-Much of the alcohol is brewed locally and sold on the local market. It is not uncommon that people start to consume alcohol as early as 07 am, says Abel.
Because it is mostly men who spend their days drinking, the heavy agricultural work falls upon women and children. Even the elderly are affected since they have to take responsibility for children who have been abandoned by their parents.
IAS organize campaigns to increase awareness
Through the AAA project, IAS has carried out several campaigns to highlight the bad consequences of alcohol.
-One alcohol-related problem here is children dropping out of school. When the parents consume alcohol, they don´t engage in their children’s education which results in children staying at home, says Abel.
Alcohol also has a direct link to the spread of HIV / AIDS, says Juliet Namukasa, Country Director IAS Uganda.
– Alcohol is associated with an increased number of sexual contacts, and a greater risk-taking. This contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies, especially among the youth, says Juliet.
Alcohol also increases the risk of domestic violence. Juliet refers to a study (note)showing that alcohol is behind as much as 40% of all violence that takes place at home.
– Alcoholism leads to both physical and psychological violence. Children who grow up in homes where there is alcoholism have lower grades, higher risk of developing depression and carries a constant feeling of being socially isolated, says Juliet.
Has helped over 20 000 people
The AAA project started in 2012 and has been conducted in the districts of Pader, Abim and Agago. From the beginning the number of targeted households were 450 but today as AAA has been integrated in other IAS projects, the number of people that´s been helped has increased significantly.
– All in all, we are talking about 20 000 people, says Juliet.
In addition to awareness campaigns, IAS has also engaged local politicians to raise the discussion about alcohol and how they can influence their village to help people stop drinking.
-We collaborate with both local politicians and the police. By talking about the negative effects of alcohol and at the same time highlight stories from people who have been helped, progress is being made, slowly but surely. There is a lot of work, but when I see all the families that have been rescued and see how individuals have been helped, I am so happy and I think it is worth everything. I am convinced that when we change the attitudes towards alcohol, tomorrow’s generation will also be rescued from alcohol abuse, says Abel.
(Note: The social effects of alcoholism (March 2012) –Promises Treatment Center)
Film & Photo: Håkan Björk
Text: Rebecka Woods
Read more in The Journey (PDF-2.6MB) produced by IAS Uganda