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Development Blog

To many people, charities and huge multi-national companies will always be strange bedfellows. As such, there can be a gossipy appetite to hear of a mighty culture clash when the two worlds come together in partnership – the sandal wearing NGO worker bewildered by their suited counterparts in the shadows of Canary Wharf.

The truth is much less riveting. Earlier this week, I sat alongside fellow panellists from Barclays, Plan, and DFID at an event entitled ‘Out of poverty and into profit’ in which we asked whether new development partnerships were a force for good?’

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A Village Savings and Loans Association which enables people to access financial services who are normally not able to do so.  © CARE A Village Savings and Loans Association which enables people to access financial services who are normally not able to do so. © CARE

I have recently returned from South Sudan where I met groups of people who had to travel for days at a time, and sometimes weeks, to get back to their home country. Along the way they saw babies and old people die – just too weak to complete a difficult journey with little or no food, and no protection at all from mosquitoes and the elements.

Everyone I met was relieved to have reached their destination in South Sudan but it was quickly apparent that the physical journey was just the start of their story.

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A returnee family in South Sudan. © CARE / Geoffrey Dennis A returnee family in South Sudan. © CARE / Geoffrey Dennis

The conference on Afghanistan in Bonn yesterday resulted in a statement which says all the right things, but lacks any specific commitments or actions to make them happen in reality.

CARE helped organise and host a series of meetings between leading women's rights activists in Afghanistan from the Afghan Women's Network (AWN) and diplomats before and during the conference. AWN launched a declaration based on consultations with over 500 women activists across Afghanistan, who collectively represent or work with over 500,000 Afghan women. This meeting, attended by journalists and members of European and Afghan civil society, happened on the morning of the official summit, immediately after President Karzai had given his opening speech.

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The Afghan Women's Network hold a press conference in Bonn - calling for women's achievements in Afghanistan in the last ten years to be built upon, not undermind. © Puthupparambil / CARE The Afghan Women's Network hold a press conference in Bonn - calling for women's achievements in Afghanistan in the last ten years to be built upon, not undermind. © Puthupparambil / CARE

When I first worked in Kenya, 20 years ago, I saw how farming practices could provide a good life for men and women in rural villages even with little rainfall and where basic services, such as water and electricity were almost non-existent. Farmers and livestock keepers in the dry areas of Kenya have been, by necessity, resilient to difficult conditions. But this is at the cost of hard physical work over long hours on the farm alongside a constant search for additional income sources such as from small business activities just to feed the family and send children to school.

20 years on, rural communities are still dependent on the land but are now facing new challenges from the effects of climate change. Perhaps the biggest impact is the increased uncertainty of the weather patterns. Farmers are no longer sure when to plant, where to take animals for good grazing or when they will be affected by the increasing frequency of droughts and floods. This places a new demand on already vulnerable people. How can they adapt to climate change in the face of all this uncertainty?

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Rural communities are dependent on the land but are now facing new challenges from the effects of climate change, but supporting rural communities to learn about and adapt to climate change could make a big difference. © CARE Rural communities are dependent on the land but are now facing new challenges from the effects of climate change, but supporting rural communities to learn about and adapt to climate change could make a big difference. © CARE

As Usain Bolt pounded to the 200m finish line, displaying formidable human strength, my mind wandered to the Olympics and Paralympics aftermath. The Olympics this year closed to a new opening – one that is hoped to herald in new commitments to reducing malnutrition rates across the developing world.

Looking at Bolt’s muscles flexing across the screen, it seemed apt that the UK’s Hunger Summit on Sunday, which hopes to capitalise on the energy of the Olympics, was promoted by some of the UK’s leading athletes. Sportsmen such as David Beckham and Mo Farah must understand more than most the importance of nutrition.

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Proper nutrition is essential to children's development. © CARE Proper nutrition is essential to children's development. © CARE

The journey from Bhubaneswar, Orissa's state capital to Kendrapada district is long. As we drive modern India shouts from bill boards and hand painted adverts. The roads get ever smaller. Billboards and tarmac are left behind and soon we are bumping along dirt tracks. Below the raised roadway the flat landscape reaches away punctuated with villages and rivers.

Last October heavy rain fall caused flooding that hit this region twice in the span of 15 days. 2.5 million people were affected, with many families losing  their homes and crops.

"How do we predict this? The floods have never been so bad before, you never know." says Santilata Malik, a widow.

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Finishing touches to the walls on a new home - built after the recent floods in Orissa, India, to withstand future floods. © Philip Barritt / CARE Finishing touches to the walls on a new home - built after the recent floods in Orissa, India, to withstand future floods. © Philip Barritt / CARE

It’s good to be back in Sierra Leone again. I was last here in 2009. It is a country full of life, with a constant buzz about it. But it’s a country that has faced more than its fair share of problems and is again faced with another problem; cholera.

Over 250 people have died with over 15,000 reported cases. The Government of Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency. CARE, with funding from the British Government’s new Rapid Response Facility, is quickly scaling up its cholera response programme. This is not an easy job when getting to many areas is a logistical challenge at the best of times let alone when hampered by the rainy season. Even in the capital city, Freetown, roads are a disconcerting experience. With potholes everywhere, cars are constantly moving from both sides of the road to avoid them.

 

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CARE staff explain anti cholera tools to a family in Sierra Leone. © CARE / Tim Freccia CARE staff explain anti cholera tools to a family in Sierra Leone. © CARE / Tim Freccia
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