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My Heart Went Out to the People of Vanuatu This Weekend

Jasmine Huggins  |  March 26, 2015

As CWS launched its appeal for the island of Vanuatu, devastated on March 13 by Tropical Storm Pam, my heart went out to the people of this small island nation. The cyclone decimated dozens of villages. Thousands have been left homeless. Root crops – a staple of the national diet - have been stripped from arable land. Some 3,000 persons are now in evacuation centers and up to 200,000 people - entire families and many children whose parents lost their livelihoods - will be dependent on humanitarian support in the short term.

This was an all too familiar story.

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Syria: Responding to an Unprecedented Crisis

Steve Weaver  |  March 23, 2015

This month marks the 4th anniversary of the devastating war in Syria with little hope of it ending anytime soon.  This conflict has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world with 3.9 million Syrians escaping to surrounding countries and another 7.8 million displaced within Syria.  That means nearly half of Syria’s 24 million people have fled their homes in the past four years.

CWS is responding to this unprecedented crisis in a number of ways.  Since September 2013 we have been partnering with St. Andrew’s Refugee Services, or StARS in Cairo.  We are working with refugee communities there to provide education, psychosocial and legal services.   CWS staffer Beth Frank has been working with StARS in Cairo since October of 2013. StARS and CWS are working with refugees and asylum seekers from a number of countries including Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Iraq.  But the largest population being assisted is Syrian representing almost half of our students and clients.

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Clean Water Makes All the Difference

Lisa Hayes  |  March 20, 2015

Poverty is widespread in Soe on the island of West Timor in Indonesia. Poor infrastructure, lack of educational opportunities and little access to basic necessities creates major challenges for people living in rural areas.

On my visit there, I met with Nakor Sabu, a community leader in Oeulasi village outside of Soe, and his wife Maria who have three children. They told me about the problems they used to have with water—a problem they shared with people in most of the villages in the area. There is a spring about fifteen minutes walking distance from their house, but the water was contaminated because there was no structure to protect the spring from animal waste and falling leaves.

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Implementation of the New Framework Would be the Key!

Takeshi Komino  |  March 18, 2015

After hours and hours of negotiations, the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction has finally come to an agreement, and the new framework is now called “Sendai Framework for Action: 2015-2030.” Some of the topics that concerned some states during the negotiation have been around inclusion or deletion of certain words, such as conflict and technology transfer, and whether ‘predictable funding’ will be mentioned in the document.

These concerns are few. There is a feeling generally among civil society groups like CWS that the new framework does capture essentials we need to move forward. First of all, the new framework captures both natural and man-made disasters. Second, it emphasizes the role of stakeholders more than ever. And lastly, the framework recognizes the need to proactively assess the risks in order to address them.

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Interfaith Dialogue on the Role of FBOs in Disaster Risk Reduction

Takeshi Komino  |  March 16, 2015

ACT Alliance and Soka Gakkai International held an interfaith session on the role of faith based organizations in reducing disaster risk. John Nduna, Secretary General of ACT Alliance opened the session that overfilled the room and forced us to turn away many.

The session highlighted the strength of FBOs, especially on their outreach capacity, material and social assets they posses, and mobilizing power during the first hours of responding to disaster.  Participants expressed that beliefs allow them to posses an altruistic mind, which leads to proactiveness in disaster preparedness and response.

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Vanuatu and Reducing Disaster Risk: Who Will Shape the Future?

Takeshi Komino  |  March 16, 2015

Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu, leaving unprecedented damage to the pacific island state. Vanuatu president Baldwin Lonsdale told media at the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction that ’90 percent of buildings in the capital’ have been destroyed. The country must start anew. The president also indicated that “after all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out." The world clearly needs to step up to support those in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

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More Focus on Technological Hazards for the First Time Ever

Takeshi Komino  |  March 14, 2015

CWS Japan took part in one of the official proceedings of World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction called “Working Session:Technological Disaster from Risk to Recovery”.  In fact, this was the first time in history that technological disaster has been brought up in such a high-level DRR conference as one of the main sessions.   The post-2015 DRR framework includes both natural and man-made disasters, and it calls for proactive risk assessment and disclosure.

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