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CWS Update March 2017

A monthly news bulletin exploring development, global justice and the work of CWS. An alternative to mainstream media sources. Past issues can be read here

March 2017

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For Your Diary

1 March - 16 April Seven Weeks for Water - take part in this Lenten pilgrimage for water justice in Africa with the Ecumenical Water Network. 

4 April  International Day for Mine Awareness

7 April World Health Day—Depression: Let’s talk

17 April Global Day of Action on Military Spending

Pauline McKay met with Jennifer and Arvin from the SAND Trust, Sivagangai District, South India.  Scavengers or rubbish collectors told her how SAND had helped them achieve the minimum wage and better working conditions.

India: Wages for Waste Collectors

In February Pauline visited our five Indian partners and some of the communities whose lives have been transformed thanks to your support.   One group she met was SAND Trust which has been working to improve employment conditions for scavengers, the people who collect rubbish and clean sewerage systems.  In 2010 when they started the scavengers were mostly unpaid and on call.  They had no control over working conditions and no protection for dangerous work. 

SAND helped them form an association and campaign for the minimum wage  which they achieved in 2013.  However, village administrators took advantage of their illiteracy to withdraw their back pay without their knowledge or consent.  Thanks to Arvin who worked closely with the association, the association produced 3,040 bank account records to show what was going on in 560 villages.  The courts forced them to repay the missing back pay.  Thanks to SAND individual scavengers have some control over working conditions, but there is further work to be done. Pauline was impressed by SAND’s vigilance and advocacy for some of the most vulnerable people, something common to all the Indian partnerships.

East Africa Food CrisisLWF/C Kaestner
Across Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan people are dying in one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.  Uganda is appealing for help for a daily average of 2,800 new refugees a day.  Famine has been declared in South Sudan’s Unity State.  The brutal combination of conflict, insecurity, poverty and drought is threatening 20 million people in the region with starvation.  ACT Alliance is responding with food, water, sanitation, emergency healthcare and protection. 

Photo: In Uganda, ACT Alliance records refugees with special needs. LWF/C. Kӓstner

South Sudan: Pleas for Peace
South Sudanese churches and members of civil society are appealing for international support in their efforts to halt the conflict that is ravaging the country.  The Council of Churches is asking for prayers and immediate large-scale humanitarian assistance at the same time as they are appealing to the warring parties to stop fighting inside the country. 

Wadalla Peter of our partner the Maridi Service Agency reported on a civil society consultation he attended earlier this month in Juba.  Leaders from across the country supported participation in the national dialogue announced by the President last year.  The process needed to include those opposed to the government, be based on a re-declaration of the ceasefire, include the release of political prisoners, and guarantee the safety and freedom of expression for participants.  It called for stability to address famine, severe food insecurity and the economic hardship of the South Sudanese, and for international support. More than 1.9 million are displaced and 1.6 million have fled as refugees.  Uganda where ACT Alliance is assisting many of them is at breaking point according to the UNHCR. 

If you can, support the South Sudan Appeal to save people from starvation.

Water: Top Priority
Over 663 million people do not have access to safe water.  This year World Water Day celebrations on 22 March focused attention on waste water.  Over 80% of the waste water, returns to the ecosystem without being treated or reused.  1.8 billion people use drinking water contaminated with faeces putting them at risk of disease. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths a year.  In Uganda, your donations are helping families of HIV and AIDS orphans access improved water.  Read We have Plans to see the difference your gift makes.

UN: Commission on Women
ACT Alliance attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting 13-24 March to promote gender justice.  In his presentation to the Committee, ACT’s Anoop Sukumaram said gender equality was a basic right and essential for sustaining economic growth.  He urged CSW to depoliticise women’s health and provide equal access to health systems, better mechanisms to address gender-based violence and the participation of women.  Bimla Chandrasekar from CWS partner EKTA also attended the gathering. 

Syria: 6 years of War
The ceasefire is not working and many Syrians are trapped in besieged areas or living under fire as this brutal war enters its 7th year.  The UN says 6.3 million are displaced within the country with many stuck in difficult to reach or besieged areas.  The latest round of IntraSyrian talks began on 23 March. CWS encourages people to pray for the talks and a way out of this brutal conflict.
Speaking at a WCC co-sponsored side event at the Commission on the Status of Women, Mira Neaimeh highlighted the role of faith-based communities in providing assistance to refugees in Lebanon. “Churches are helping the refugees pay their rent, and find work for the young men and adults, given that they are skilled labourers”, she said.

Please help refugees with emergency supplies, healthcare and education by donating to the CWS Syria Appeal.

Join Operation Refugee
Operation Refugee 2017 has begun.  Challenge yourself to live on refugee rations from 16-20 June and raise funds to assist Syrian refugees with emergency food, education and healthcare.  Read the Kete for more information and sign up to begin.  Operation Refugee Lite is a two day challenge for students.  Please tell others about it.

You Give Us Hope
Your donations to CWS help people who need food, water, healthcare and respect.  Please consider making a donation by 31 March and get a tax-deductible receipt.   You can support our dedicated partners by making a gift of hope.

Update provides news, information and stories.  Reproduction of items is encouraged with attribution to CWS.  Current and back issues are available