Celebrating Mothers

If you are wondering how to honour your mother or grandmother this Mother’s Day, why not consider making a donation in her name to World Neighbours Canada and have your money go directly to support mothers not as fortunate as yours.

All our projects support some of the poorest women in areas of Nepal, Honduras and Burkina Faso and provide opportunities for women, and often mothers, to learn skills that will allow them to earn a little money of their own, improve their health and better care for their children. This is especially true right now, as we all attempt to deal with the life-changing effects of COVID-19.

Children made Mother’s Day cards as a special activity.

Should you wish to have a card sent to your mother as a memento of your gift, please send an email to the following address: ( peterjudy1352@gmail.com ), along with your name and the name and address of the recipient and a card will be mailed shortly.

Information about making a donation is available on the website. (www.worldneighbours.ca )

A community water tap in Nepal

Life stressors in the Sahel

Charles and some of the team of APDC

By Judy Gray

I recently came across two articles which describe the current situation in Burkina Faso as it teeters on the verge of a major crisis. During these strange and unusual times when COVID-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, one would expect the virus to be the number one concern  in Burkina Faso also and it is certainly mentioned regularly. However, in the Eastern region where our project villages are, there is an even greater worry right now – the daily fear of jihadist terrorists entering a village and harming individuals. Charles Tankoano, coordinator of our local partner organization, keeps us updated on these difficulties but also reports that his staff continue to support people as much as they can. We are actively discussing with Charles if and how the program needs to change to meet people’s needs and keep staff safe.

The following excerpt from an article published in a journal, The Intercept, describes the situation in the country:

On March 18, Burkina Faso suffered the first confirmed Covid-19 fatality in all of sub-Saharan Africa…Tiny, impoverished, and conflict-scarred, Burkina Faso is now West Africa’s worst-affected country, with 146 confirmed cases, including four government ministers [as of April 4, that number has risen to 302 cases and 16 deaths].

Burkina Faso has seen more than its share of hardships: poverty, drought, hunger, coups. But the coronavirus poses a new kind of threat to a country wracked by a war that has displaced around 700,000 Burkinabe in the last year. Many of those people now find themselves under great physical and emotional strain, lacking proper shelter, food, and the other necessities — all of which makes them more vulnerable to the pandemic. Experts fear that Covid-19 could decimate entire settlements of Burkina Faso’s displaced. The number of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), will soon reach 1 million. [Though the number of IDPs is much lower in the Eastern region where our project villages are located, the same situation is occurring as families flee their villages to avoid living with the fear of terrorists, according to Charles Tankoano in his recent semi-annual report].

While Burkina Faso has recently adopted a Covid-19 response plan that takes IDPs into account, it doesn’t change the fact that 135 health centers in the country have closed due to violence, 140 have reduced their services, and 1.5 million Burkinabe now depend on humanitarian health assistance. Covid-19 will exacerbate an already dire situation.

Survivors of a recent attack on Rofenega (northern region, close to Mali) recounted a story that is increasingly common among farmers and cattle herders in rural Burkina Faso. Armed men on motorbikes roared into villages just before dusk and began shooting. “They shot our men at the gates of our homes,” Dialla Seybata, a 50-year-old survivor of the massacre, also stranded in Kaya, told The Intercept. [To date, there have been no deaths in the project villages supported by World Neighbours Canada, but the unannounced arrival of terrorists is occurring more and more frequently. According to Mr. Tankoano, the terrorists are preventing information sessions from taking place and even preventing the planned agricultural improvements from getting underway].

Stone bunds are a simple way to retain the limited water available to these farmers

Another article, published by the UN News, paints a similar picture about the current critical situation in Burkina Faso:

The number of food-insecure people in Burkina Faso is expected to triple in the next lean season…Humanitarians have repeatedly warned that chronic insecurity linked to successive drought and violent extremists who exploit the lack of a strong State presence have created an unavoidable crisis, which WFP said has now extended to the coastal countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Forecasts indicate that Burkina Faso will see food insecurity more than triple, to more than 2.1 million people in June, up from at least 680,000 at the same time last year.

ADPC works with communities to help create community gardens which in turn help improve the health of the community and provide additional funds.

“This is a crisis layered on top of a crisis, and the situation risks getting out of hand,” said Chris Nikoi, the World Food Programmes’s Regional Director for West Africa. “People are on the brink – we must step up now to save lives – we are the only hope for millions.”

Here are the links to these two articles in their entirety:’

The Intercept (https://theintercept.com/2020/03/26/burkina-faso-africa-coronavirus/)

UN News (https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1060942)

Communities facing a new crisis

By Bruce Petch

The evolving COVID-19 crisis has reached the countries where World Neighbours Canada provides support. More than any previous disaster, this crisis reminds us that we are all “world neighbours” and our fortunes and misfortune are linked together. One of our partner organizations in the U.S., Groundswell International, stated it aptly – we are one human family and community. Our partner organizations in Burkina Faso, Honduras and Nepal are facing a great deal of uncertainty because the health systems in their countries are not at all prepared for an epidemic on this scale. Nonetheless, the organizations and the communities they serve have faced disaster before – whether hurricanes or flooding or earthquakes or insurgencies – and pulled together in solidarity. We stand with them and hope that the communities will recover quickly.

“In West African Coronavirus Hotspot, War Has Left 700,000 Homeless and Exposed,” The Intercept. March 26,2020

Burkina Faso had the misfortune to experience the first COVID-19 death in Africa. As of today, there are 207 confirmed cases and 11 deaths. Our partner organization, APDC, is still operating but they are not optimistic about the course of the disease: “All the members of APDC and their families are doing well. We are currently spared from the Coronavirus. But everyone is afraid because our health system cannot provide care. Our state is far from being able to afford to effectively cope with this epidemic if it gains momentum.” As if the virus were not enough, attacks by terrorists continue to plague the East Region of the country where APDC operates (the North has faced even more violence).

People are protesting the forced lockdown by the government because they do not have enough money to buy food.

Honduras reports 110 confirmed cases and two deaths so far. The government has imposed strict controls on the population (a lockdown, as in many countries). Our partner organization, Vecinos Honduras notes that, “poor families do not have enough food and water in their homes, and I do not think they can bear this situation.” Vecinos Honduras is not able to continue their work in villages. Staff are largely confined to their homes, but the organization is carrying on with whatever work they are able to do through remote communication and virtual meetings.

Nepal has conducted 875 tests so far out of which 870 have come out negative while five persons tested positive.

Nepal reports only five confirmed cases so far. The government decided to lockdown the entire nation for at least one week starting on March 24th. And they have cancelled all tourist visas for the entire climbing season. The mobility of people and vehicles (except for emergencies) is halted. Our partner organization, Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti, runs a small hospital in the district (Ramechhap) – it remains open and they have prepared an isolation ward. An engineer from Kathmandu is visiting Ramechhap as a part of final evaluation of the current drinking water program. He is now stranded in Ramechhap until the lockdown is lifted. We had planned to send two World Neighbours Canada directors and a Rotarian from Oliver to do a final monitoring tour of the current project supported by Global Affairs Canada, but the trip was cancelled.

Everyone associated with World Neighbours Canada feels a bond with the communities that we support, and we are very concerned as the coronavirus threatens lives and livelihoods. Over the next weeks and months, we will keep in touch with our partner organizations and stand ready to support them as much as we are able.

World Neighbours Canada and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations

By Bruce Petch,

World Neighbours Canada takes a practical approach – we want to help people achieve tangible improvements in their lives. Nonetheless it is useful to keep track of trends in international development from a wider perspective. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of attention paid to the “Sustainable Development Goals”. These goals were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015. There are 17 goals. Goal 1 is no poverty, Goal 2 is zero hunger, Goal 10 is reduced inequality and Goal 13 is climate action, to name a few. They are intended to apply to all countries, not just developing countries. And a key part of the concept is that all the goals are interconnected. The goals (often referred to as the “SDGs”) seem to be mentioned in just about every meeting and document that touches on international development. The high profile of the sustainable development goals has helped to draw attention to the struggles faced by people around the world who are trying to grow enough food for their needs, find enough water, and survive drought and other natural disasters.

Community gardens help improve the health of the community and provide additional funds.

World Neighbours Canada supports the goals, especially the ones central to our mission like no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality and climate action. But we look at the goals from a “results on the ground” perspective. If our programs can be stronger by taking a more integrated approach – for example, the gender equality implications of increasing food crop production – we embrace the concept of the “SDGs.” Our partner organizations have a deep understanding of the connections between the different goals. For example, in Nepal our partner organization has been focusing on goal 6 – clean water and sanitation – but the outcomes they are aiming for are goals 3 (good health and well-being) and 6 (gender equality; women and girls do most of the water-carrying). In Burkina Faso, food security and child malnutrition are critical issues. Our partner organization works in an integrated way towards zero hunger, good health and well-being, gender equality and no poverty. In Honduras, our partner is embarking on a new initiative to provide entrepreneurial training and support for young people in rural areas, touching on goal 8 (decent work and economic growth) and goal 4 (quality education). In every country, we have a long history of ecological approaches to agriculture, which fits with the environmental goal called life on land (number 15).

The Sustainable Development Goals provide a useful framework for a coordinated approach to the alleviation of poverty and better management of finite resources. World Neighbours Canada is inspired by these goals to support our partners in ensuring that people’s lives are impacted in meaningful ways, rather than focusing narrowly on specific outcomes.

20 reasons for gratitude to start 2020

We at World Neighbours Canada feel blessed and this New Years we wanted to share 20 reasons we feel so lucky. These are the reasons as submitted by our board members and volunteers.

  1. I am grateful to all the people in Canada who support World Neighbours Canada year after year. Every donation, large and small, is appreciated and the moral support means as much to us as the financial support.
  2. I am grateful to the staff and volunteers associated with our partner organizations in Nepal, Honduras and Burkina Faso for their tireless dedication to the alleviation of poverty. They are remarkable people who deeply understand the communities where they work and know how to help villagers achieve self-reliance and avoid dependency.
  3. I’m grateful that the staff of our partner organization in Burkina Faso, (Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés – APDC) AND those of our project villages have, to date, escaped being targeted by the Islamist insurgents in the Eastern region of the country. This is a huge concern for all living there and demonstrates the commitment of staff and villagers to implement changes that will improve their lives. 

  4. When our younger daughter died in 2006 she had said that she wanted some of her money to go to Nepal. We were thankful at that time and still are thankful to find World Neighbours. We knew right away we had found the right place to donate Rachel’s money. Water systems seemed so basic and the idea that all the money went to the people and the projects was very satisfying for us. It gave us a purpose and made us see some good coming out of the death of someone in the prime of her life.
  5. I’m grateful for the opportunities my husband and I have had in the past to visit the Fada region of Burkina Faso to see firsthand the work this small local NGO is doing, teaching new skills to the villagers and sharing new ideas so that the beneficiaries are able to become more independent and improve the quality of their lives.
  6. I’m grateful to be a part of World Neighbours Canada as I truly believe that the philosophy of “neighbour helping neighbour”, “a hand up not a hand out” is how lasting change can be achieved.
  7. I’m grateful that World Neighbours Canada’s philosophy includes the notion that change occurs slowly, over generations, and as such we are committed to support our partner NGOs for the long haul.
  8. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve developed with the staff of APDC and admire and respect the commitment they all demonstrate in continuing to support the villagers during these turbulent and difficult times.
  9. I’m grateful for the support I receive from the other directors of WNC, as this support enables me to complete the necessary reports that need to be submitted.
  10. I’m grateful that Excel spreadsheet is still an acceptable form for accountants and government officials for tracking donations and expenses.
  11. It is wonderful to have different directors responsible for each country project to liaise with and to solve any money transfer issues within their assigned country.
  12. I am grateful I got to visit the projects in Honduras and meet the staff of Vecinos Honduras, who my father had worked with, admired, and told me so much about over the years.
  13. I am grateful for the many service groups, and schools who have allowed us to come in and talk about our organization and the work of our partners.
  14. I am grateful Suresh Shrestha, Executive Director of TSS, and Govinda Ghimire, Director on the TSS Board, were able to visit BC in 2019 and give presentations.
  15. I am grateful for our member organization BCCIC (BC Council of International Cooperation) for the training sessions and other educational opportunities they offer. I have learned a lot.
  16. I am grateful for those who read the articles (print or online), and click on the social media posts.
  17. I am grateful for a federal government that understands that small NGO’s are some of the most effective groups in the world to affect positive change in the world, and continues to fund us.  As with all funding, it could be greater and it could come with a little less paper work, but I am very grateful for what we get.
  18. I am grateful for groups like Rotary in Oliver, Kamloops and Aldergrove who have been supportive and generous for many years.
  19. I am grateful for my wife who lets me go traipsing through the mountains of Nepal on bad roads and in suspect vehicles.
  20. I am grateful to know that the future can include positive change and I look to the upcoming year with hope.

 

Nepal Project Partners tour British Columbia

By Dale Dodge

One of the terms of the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) project that WNC is working through presently is that we have to visit the project sites during the project term, and the project partners have also to come to visit Canada.  The purpose of the visit to Canada is to get our partners to talk to Canadians about global issues, rural development issues, gender equity issues and project issues.  The most recent visit by representatives of our partner, Tamakoshi Sewa Sameti (TSS) did that in spades!

Suresh Shrestha, Executive Director of TSS, and Govinda Ghimire, Director on the TSS Board, spent 10 days in Canada and spoke to many different Canadians in many different places.  Let me list the groups:

  • Rotary Clubs – in Aldergrove, Oliver and Kamloops – all supporters of our GAC project
  •  Community groups – in Aldergrove, Cawsten, Oliver, Vernon, Kamloops and Vancouver twice – all ‘town hall’ type meetings with 20 – 30 people each time
  •  Schools – in Kamloops – all others were closed for Spring Break
  • Universities – in Penticton – to builders at the Centre of Excellence in OUC who were interested in the water project and in the earthquake ‘proof’ buildings being built in the past 4 years since the major earthquakes of 2015,
    • and in Kamloops, at TRU, to 60 nursing students studying International Health issues, and were most interested in water, sanitation and health issues
  • Oliver Sikh Temple – thanking them for the very generous donation the Temple gave to our one time Earthquake Appeal in 2015.

It was a very busy 10 days, but these two fellows never stopped smiling and were wonderful ambassadors for WNC, for TSS and for Nepal.

How are Gender and Environment Connected? Look to Grassroots work in Burkina Faso

Written by Diane Connors, BC Council for Global Cooperation

Interview with Charles Tankoano, Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés and Judy Gray, World Neighbours Canada Director

Charles Tankoano had come a long way when he walked out of the chill Vancouver air and into the BCCIC office. “He hasn’t taken off his jacket since his arrival,” Judy Gray chuckled as the small group settled into their chairs. Charles had arrived from Burkina Faso, a small country in West Africa, earlier in the week. His visit to British Columbia was a whirlwind of presentations with schools, community groups, and donors of World Neighbours Canada, which, thanks to funding from Global Affairs Canada, is the partner organization that brought him over and supports his work in Burkina Faso.

Charles spoke only French, requiring Judy to translate for those who did not know the language. The group, consisting of Charles and 3 members of World Neighbours Canada, had come to BCCIC to use the teleconference system to hold a call with their project manager from Global Affairs Canada and a GAC International Development officer who will be travelling to Burkina Faso in the near future. As the call started up and the inevitable technical issues were mitigated, a photo slideshow appeared on the screen while Charles explained the work being done in 18 rural villages. The images showed children receiving medical care, people eating together, and people working with the flat, dry land in the Fada region of the eastern part of the country. This call was a valuable connection – giving voice to Charles to share the challenges and successes of community development, and strengthening the relationship between Global Affairs and a small Canadian development organization that receives project funding.

After the conference, we sat and talked a while about the organization Charles leads, called Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés, or APDC for short. Charles explained that the organization began in 2002, with the vision of promoting sustainable and equitable development in poor and marginalized communities in Eastern Burkina Faso through capacity building of individuals and villages. The areas of focus for the projects include: food security, community health, female leadership and gender issues, environmental protection, drinking water supply, and adult literacy. Drinking water and adult literacy are addressed by APDC despite not having funding for these projects, as they realize that these two areas are critical to long term improvements.

As Charles spoke it was clear that the areas of focus were all linked – working in one area will often strengthen another. APDC’s gender work is particularly compelling, and some of the earliest initiatives addressed the connection between women and the land. At the village level, APDC promoted the idea that women have the right to work a parcel of land, and have access to that plot year after year, so that she might improve the soil and benefit from the productivity. This was done in line with the national government making policy changes and providing women access to land. APDC also reinforced the notion that when men and women work together, their lives and their children’s lives are better. This is mostly achieved through information sessions with men, giving examples and working through questions that reveal truths and inequalities. Through this work the men gradually come to new understandings such as the fact that women should not be doing hard labour when they are in late stages of pregnancy, and that household work should be shared between a husband and wife. Cultural changes like these are APDC’s goal, but there is still much work to be done in this area for these ideas to be accepted by the majority of villagers.

“I managed to get this great picture,” Judy said as she turned her laptop, showing a photo of a man and woman, side by side with the woman’s arm around her husband’s side. “Charles explained that 10 years ago, public demonstration of any kind of affection would not be visible or accepted. It’s a sign of progress.” Part of this progress has been enabled directly through Global Affairs Canada funding, as a Gender Consultant (local Burkinese professional) has been hired to evaluate APDC’s current gender initiatives and provide suggestions for enhancing this work. The resulting recommendations have been incorporated into project programming where possible. The improvement in gender equality often filters into benefits in other areas: improved supports for pregnant women, improved nutrition for children and pregnant women, improved environmental practices and improvements in health care. It also helps to develop a sense of community, which is an underlying foundational goal of APDC projects.

Charles explained that he gained experience in development work through a few different paths. He started out studying agriculture and agronomy in the nearby countries of Ivory Coast and Niger, and he began working with the Burkina Faso government, teaching farmers how to improve soil conservation. Over time he began to find the bureaucracy of the government frustrating, and wanted more freedom to work directly on strengthening community capacity. He worked for several NGOs; in particular an NGO in Senegal, where he solidified his understanding of a participatory philosophy in development. Then, he formed his own organization to address the needs of people in his home country of Burkina Faso. When asked why he pursued such challenging work he simply explained that he had a desire to work with people who are marginalized, taking into account their own culture and respecting their values.

When looking at the communities in the context of the future, the topic of climate change came up. One of the reasons for the impoverishment of the region is that the land is difficult to make productive due to less and less rain falling every year. Charles explained that though the people are mostly illiterate and uneducated, they don’t need to be told what climate change is. Living near the desert, it is already obvious that climate change has arrived: now there is only 3 months of rain per year on average, versus the 6 months of rain that could be expected in the past. The progression of climate change requires more tools for communities in these hard hit areas to be able to mitigate the effects of a warmer world – Charles explained that “the people of Eastern Burkina Faso are forgotten by the government and are being left further and further behind. More resources will be needed to mitigate the effects of climate change.” APDC is doing its best to address these challenges with simple but effective techniques, such as getting the right seeds to withstand dry conditions, creating and using compost, keeping trees to prevent erosion, and building “stone ribbons” along the fields to allow the water to soak into the soil more. These measures have already helped people to increase yields by as much as 50%.

Though the challenges are still great, and change is slow, Charles has seen significant improvements for people in the region over the years. With the help of APDC, people have learned to vary production with diverse activities and better techniques, which has improved nutrition, community resilience, and environmental stewardship. More children are getting vaccinated, and women’s health is improving, especially as attitudes toward family planning shift. The improved relationship between men and women has resulted in building up the confidence of women, which is visible when women speak at meetings and there is an expectation that they will be listened to. These things together create a more hopeful picture for Burkina Faso, though it is one of the lowest listed countries on the UN Human Development Index. Charles explains that he is always in a state of self reflection, asking whether he is doing the right things, and providing the right support. He says the next project is to look at new strategies and solutions for Burkina Faso in a changing world, to push further and go the next step.

 

World Neighbours Canada is a member of the BC Council for Global Cooperation, which is a network of global development organizations based in British Columbia, working toward sustainable development both at home and around the world.

Deadly Attack in Burkina Faso Today

We have learned that there was a deadly attack in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, today in which eight gunmen and eight security were killed and over 80 people injured, including civilians. The attacks were aimed at the French Embassy and the military HQ.

Reports suggest that this was a terrorist attack aimed at retaliating against France’s increased effort to combat terrorism in the regions. Another reports suggests it might have been carried out by disgruntled members of the military.

We are waiting to hear from our partners at APDC to ensure they, and their families have not been affected. We will also have to wait and see if this will affect Charles Tankoano’s trip to BC in a couple weeks.

Right now there is too much uncertainty but if you would like more details check out the following articles (Ouest-France is in French).

BBC

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43257453

Ouest-France

https://www.ouest-france.fr/monde/burkina-faso/burkina-faso-tirs-dans-le-centre-de-ouagadougou-pres-de-l-ambassade-de-france-5599045

NY Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/02/world/africa/burkina-faso-embassy-attack.html

Introducing Gender Equality Consultant, Mme Lydia Tapsoba

 

Lydia Tapsoba

Photo and article by Judy Gray

We would like to introduce Mme. Lydia TAPSOBA who is currently supporting our partner NGO, in Burkina Faso (APDC) with Gender and Gender Equality activities. Lydia is a sociologist and holds a professional degree in Social Statistics and a Master’s degree in project management. She has over 15 years of experience in community development, communication for behavioral change and gender mainstreaming in development programs. Lydia has worked with the following NGOs: Medicus Mundi, World Neighbors Oklahoma, Save the Children, and the Catholic Relief Services in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Togo.

Recently, Lydia was hired by APDC as a Gender Equity consultant.  As part of the current grant from Global Affairs Canada, greater emphasis is being placed on gender and gender equality and although this has long been part of APDC’s activities,  they sought to add to their knowledge of topics in this domain.  Lydia supported the development of the APDC Gender Action Plan, the training of 4 APDC field workers on gender and food and nutrition security, and rural entrepreneurship. She is also in charge of monitoring the implementation of the gender action plan. She has also trained 72 women leaders from the project villages on gender and gender-based violence.

Lydia is currently Gender and Nutrition Specialist for the Sahel Resilience to Food and Nutrition Insecurity Program. She is vice-chair of the board of directors of Mwangaza Action, an international NGO specializing in social mobilization issues.

Lydia is married and has a 3 year old daughter. Judy Gray had the pleasure of meeting Lydia last February while in Burkina Faso and hopes to spend a short while with her again this year, in the project area, during an upcoming mission to Fada.

Honduras Political Situation Still of Concern

By Gabriel Newman

This is what we know about what is happening in Honduras so far:

On November 26, 2017 Honduras held national elections and the region is still in a state of political tension. The Organization of American States has called for a re-election, and opposition parties are citing election fraud, but the Honduran election commission has declared the re-election of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández.

The resulting protests and violence resulted in at least 31 people dead.

The US State Department has recognized the re-election of Mr. Hernandez despite opposition from US politicians. Canada has not officially endorsed or condemned the elections.

Protests are continuing, and state police are visible in all major centers and along roads,  making it difficult to move around the country.

Our partners at Vecinos Honduras are safe and, unfortunately, used to political unrest.

Below are more in-depth articles which get into the history of the region, the accusations and some of the politics.

A great article from the Independent written before the election giving background into the political situation in Honduras

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/honduras-protest-election-fraud-juan-orlando-hernandez-salvador-nasralla-manuel-zelaya-a8146501.html

From the New York Times January 6, 2018

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/17/world/americas/honduran-presidential-election.html

The Guardian December 18 and 22, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/18/honduras-election-president-juan-orlando-hernandez-declared-winner-amid-unrest

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/22/us-recognizes-re-election-of-honduras-president-despite-calls-for-a-new-vote