The Water War

12 May

World Must Wake Up to Injustice of Famine

Originally posted on Sharing: Water covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface but for the most part it is composed of salt water and even the sweet one is not always accessible: only 0.3 is found in rivers and lakes and can be used by humans . The danger of tensions and conflicts linked to…


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Mozambique after cyclone Idai – Alex Thomson

30 Mar

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world, is and remains immortal.”…/what-we-do-for-ourselves-dies-with-us-what-we…

My Thoughts

Originally posted on The Foreign Correspondent: A Site of “Revealing Interviews” of a Foreign Correspondent, the Journalist and Writer: from “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” – Albert Pine

via Mozambique after cyclone Idai – Alex Thomson — “THE JOURNALIST “… REVEALING AND INTERESTING “INTERVIEWS”

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world, is and remains immortal.”…/what-we-do-for-ourselves-dies-with-us-what-we…

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The world cannot continue down the same road it is at present

19 May

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

25 Aug


“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
– Edward Everett Hale,  American Clergyman, Born April 3, 1822

Together, one mind, one heart, one life, one small step at a time, let’s link hands and march into a new tomorrow, a better and brighter future. TOGETHER we can do it”

– c from

Featured Image -- 386

TOGETHER, one mind, one heart, one soul, one small step at a time, we can make some difference towards a better world, a brighter tomorrow


“Rise and shine, sunshine”

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The Starfish Story

3 Jul


I’m a sucker for the starfish story. Yes, its corny and overdone, but so am I. Okay.

A writer likes to walk on the beach each morning before he begins his writing. One morning, he sees a figure dancing in the distance. Liking the idea that someone would dance to the day, the writer approaches. He realizes that the figure is that of a young girl, and she is actually reaching down, picking up starfish from the still-wet sand, and throwing them into the ocean.

As he draws near the girl, he asks her what she is doing.

“I’m throwing starfish into the ocean,” she replies.

“Well, I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

The girl looks at the man with a sincere expression and says, “The tide is going out and the Sun is coming up. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”


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Making resolutions that may save the world

5 Jan

Laura Gemmell: Making resolutions that may save the world


By Laura Gemmell

9:30 AM Thursday Jan 5, 2012

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The UN deadline to halve extreme poverty is just three years away. Picture / Glenn Jeffrey


The UN deadline to halve extreme poverty is just three years away. Picture / Glenn Jeffrey

Lose weight? Save money? Spend more time with family? Quit smoking? Be a better person? Are these among your New Year’s resolutions? If so, you’re not alone; they’re the five most popular in the Western world.

What is it about New Year’s Eve that prompts us to do (or at least toy with the idea of doing) something good or perhaps more meaningful with our lives? Is it a few too many drinks? The perception of a clean slate and starting anew? Or a combination of both?

And why is it that often, not long after the countdown and the cries of “Happy New Year”, many of us simply forget about the promises we made? A 2007 study by Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol found 78 per cent of us fail to keep our resolutions. Is it because, in the harsh, possibly hung-over light of day, they seem too ambitious, hard or just plain inconvenient?

In September 2000, 193 United Nations member states, including New Zealand, signed a declaration promising to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. This declaration, commonly known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), strikes me as among the most important resolutions ever made.

But unlike losing weight or getting that promotion, if these goals are not met, there will be dire consequences.

The MDGs are eight measurable targets designed to make the world healthier, more peaceful, just and sustainable.

The goals include eradicating global poverty and hunger, gender inequality, HIV and Aids, improving child and maternal health, environmental sustainability, global partnerships and providing universal education.

The goals, or at least their deadline, have often been labelled too ambitious, but much progress has been made.

Strong economic growth in China has seen it almost halve the number of its people living in poverty, from 452 million to 278 million.

In Tanzania, 99.6 per cent of children now attend primary school – up from 50.7 per cent in 1991.

According to the UN, sub-Saharan Africa is winning the war on HIV and Aids, with new infections down 26 per cent to 1.9 million, from 2.6 million in 1997. African nations have also cut measles deaths by 90 per cent – four years earlier than scheduled.

However, we are alarmingly behind on other targets. Take ending global hunger; the numbers of hungry have been steadily rising since the adoption of the MDGs more than a decade ago. Nearly a billion people currently don’t have enough to eat.

Child mortality rates remain shockingly high too; 9.7 million children under 5 years old die of preventable causes every year.

Progress has stalled because many Governments have deprioritised the MDGs. Perhaps, like New Year’s resolutions, the goals were set with good intentions but have fallen by the wayside.

Development assistance has increased over the past decade but the richest states have failed to meet their commitment to donate 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product. New Zealand currently sends just 0.26 per cent of its GDP overseas.

Each of the countries maintains it has reduced its effort because of the global financial crisis. In other words, 0.7 per cent is too ambitious, hard and inconvenient at the moment.

Tell that to a mother who has just buried her child.

What is needed is a renewed commitment to the goals, by the Government and individuals.

There are many ways citizens can help achieve the MDGs, and not all of them require a financial contribution. For example, the next time you go to the supermarket, ensure the products you buy are ethical and Fair-Trade. This guarantees an agreed minimum price for the producer.

Sponsor a child – for $45 a month you can ensure the well-being of a child and his or her community.

Donate to sustainable and legitimate projects that work to address one or more of the MDGs.

Contact your local member of Parliament; our governments made promises, let’s ensure they keep them.

Volunteer with Volunteer Service Abroad, or organisations working to help those less fortunate in your own community.

And lastly, be aware of the progress (or lack of it) being made in regards to the goals and their deadline. Be sure to inform others of their importance, too.

So how about forgoing that promise to yourself that you’re unlikely to keep this year and making one that really matters instead? Set yourself a New Year’s resolution that might just save the world.

* Laura Gemmell is a journalist with World Vision.

By Laura Gemmell

Kiwi aid worker Tristan Clements interview

15 Oct

Kiwi aid worker Tristan Clements interview

By Jaimee Abict | Published on September 3, 2011 | Issue 3721


Browsing: Home
/ Commentary / Kiwi aid worker Tristan Clements interview

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The number of Somalis at imminent risk of death is
overwhelming says the relief co-ordinator at Kenya’s Dadaab Camp.



A mother in Mogadishu, photo/Getty Images

Tristan Clements, a 31-year-old Kiwi aid worker, has been co-ordinating
relief at Kenya’s Dadaab Camp, where starving Somalis are fleeing the region’s
worst famine in 60 years. Widely blamed for the crisis is extremist Islamic
sect al Shabab, which has links to al Qaeda and imposed a blanket ban on all
Western aid in 2010. Now more than half a million children are reported to be
on the brink of starvation.

In 2007 you were held up at gunpoint in Darfur and three of your
colleagues were shot. One gunman pointed his rifle at you, but fortunately the
gun jammed. Do you fear for your safety from either violence or illness while
working in these places?
I’m aware of the risks when I travel but I
have pretty extensive security training as well as a fair amount of experience
in insecure zones. I actually work as a security trainer within World Vision –
we train other aid workers in how to manage themselves and their teams in
dangerous situations. I know what it’s like when things go wrong in an
insecure place, and I’m pretty determined to ensure that never happens again to
me. Odd as it may sound, I consider myself a very risk-averse person, and I put
a lot of effort into understanding and reducing the risk when I go somewhere
that might be a bit dodgy.

What are some of the most confronting factors you’ve faced on the
The scale of the need is overwhelming when you hear statistics
of 400,000 being at imminent risk of death if this goes unassisted. You
rock up at a camp like Dadaab in Kenya and you can drive for 30 minutes viewing
nothing but “tent city”, accommodating roughly the population of Wellington.
People forced out of their homes, streaming across the border at a rate of 1500
a day. People are arriving in an incredibly frail state after walking for weeks,
foraging along the way, going days without food. And they’ve then got to stand
in line for six hours in the sun to receive a food ration.

Your colleague Amanda Koech tells of people walking 450km to get to
Dadaab, saying in many cases mothers have left behind their children who are
simply too weak to make the journey. Are you aware of reports of women having
to leave their children to die by the roadside rather than face the 30-day trek
from Somalia?
Stories of mothers having to choose between children surviving
are unfortunately not unusual in disaster settings. Similar stories were told
after Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, where ­mothers hanging onto trees
could hold onto only one child. If food is short, parents will often choose to
feed more to the children they think are more likely to survive. In Niger,
which had hunger crises in 2005 and 2010, young children are the most fragile
and it is common for them to die as infants. In some cultures children are
deemed “cursed” or “taboo” until they reach the age of two, when they pass that
main danger period and are more likely to live. I’ve even heard of
instances where mothers will refuse to nurse infants until they are of a
particular age – they are left to other family members to take care of – so
real is the likelihood of those infants dying. It’s commonplace for the
men and older children to be fed first to keep their strength up, and the
younger children, who cannot contribute to family livelihoods, are fed whatever
is left over. There’s not a whole lot of humanitarian data coming out of
southern Somalia much beyond Mogadishu, so it’s hard to get a good ­picture of
exactly what is happening.

Is access to Western aid still heavily restricted in Somalia itself
because of the volatile political climate?
Yes, very heavily. There is
now some access in camps closest to Mogadishu, but it’s still precarious. There
has been significant looting of food supplies – some is appearing on the local
market. Whether specifically because of insurgency elements or other powers in
the area, getting aid through is fraught with difficulty in Somalia. Any
time we use the word famine in its technical sense, it has always been
understood as a political event. By that stage it’s about how food is being
distributed, not grown. You almost invariably find some parts are doing fine
and in others scores are dropping dead. People need to understand that when we
see evidence of the extreme end of famine, it’s a result of human-driven
factors, political in nature, not natural forces. We’ve known about this
escalating catastrophe since November 2010 and have been responding since the
start of 2011. But we didn’t find ourselves in the limelight of the media or
public until the UN officially bandied about the “famine” term, and images of emaciated
children and even adults began to surface on TV.

How do you combat the well-worn arguments that “aid doesn’t work”
and “the money doesn’t get there”?
I’ve been lucky enough to see the
pointy end of that with my own eyes, seeing lives that would’ve been lost if we
hadn’t been there. The reality is camps kill. When you put 400,000 people in
close proximity to each other, and take away their sources of nutrition, clean
water and health care, it’s a matter of weeks before you see the sort of
horrendous disaster that we saw in Congo following the Rwandan genocide, where
tens of thousands died of cholera in a matter of months. The fact that there
aren’t signs of the cataclysmic outbreaks we’ve seen in the past tells me these
aid agencies are doing a good job.

How can we tangibly help? Is it simply giving aid in emergencies? New
Zealand has a really strong sense of social justice; people do come out as a
voice for the voiceless, and I think they’re much more idealistic and less
driven by some of the selfish foreign policy objectives you see in other
countries. So I do applaud Kiwis for their attitude and mindset, although
there’s always more we could be doing in the long term. What’s urgent in
the current crisis is that we want to provide aid now so in the short term
people don’t die, because, ­realistically, people will. And the message that
needs to get out there is: this situation isn’t going anywhere fast, it’s not
going to get better any time soon – in fact, it’s likely to get worse. The key
message, then, is please don’t lose attention, don’t lose focus on the Horn of
Africa. In Christchurch, people do have that understanding of what it’s
like to have lost their homes, livelihoods, to struggle with that destruction
to daily routine, to no longer feel safe – they are probably a lot more able to
identify with what it must feel like. This is one of the reasons you find some
of the greatest generosity comes from places that experienced recent
hardship. In Kenya, people raised a lot of money for their fellow Kenyans
suffering drought, because there’s that level of sympathy. When you look at
what Kenya has donated compared with the cost of living, if the same level of
generosity was found in the US, they’d be able to fund every UN appeal in the
world twice over.

To donate to the Horn of Africa crisis, contact:

World Vision –             0800 800 776       (

Oxfam –             0800 400 666       (

Save the Children –             0800 167 168       (

NB: Here is Radio New Zealand National’s interview with Clements on Nine
to Noon with Kathryn Ryan