Friday, November 21, 2008

Please Help - INTO SCHOOL, OUT OF HUNGER

- School feeding reduces - hunger and improves education

When hunger strikes a community, children suffer most. Hunger drains them of their will and ability to learn. WFP school meals encourage hungry children to attend school and help them concentrate on their studies.

For a child suffering from hunger, going to school is not important; having enough food to eat is. Among the poor, there is often not enough food at home, and most schools in developing countries do not have canteens or cafeterias. On empty stomachs, children become easily distracted and have problems concentrating on their lessons.

The promise of at least one nutritious meal each day attracts children to school, boosts enrolment, promotes regular attendance, and enhances student performance.

WFP's school feeding formula is simple: food attracts hungry children to school. An education broadens their options, helping to lift them out of poverty.


Facts & Figures
- 77 million primary school-aged children do not go to school
- 97 percent of them are in developing countries
- 57 percent of them are girls
- 150 million children drop out of school before attaining a basic primary education

Food incentive
A food incentive helps convince parents that they can afford to allow their children to go and to stay in school.

The classic approach

In-school meals are free meals, either a mid-morning snack or nutritious breakfast, provided to those children who attend and remain in school.

Mid-morning snacks boost student energy levels and help students concentrate on their lessons. Children suffering from short-term hunger - like those who arrive at school after a long walk and without breakfast - are unable to pay attention during class.

WFP uses fortified food to ensure that children get the micronutrients they need. Studies show that diet and nutrition play a critical role in physical and intellectual development, and have a clear impact on a child's susceptibility to disease.

To ensure school feeding (fortified biscuits) for one year is in Bangladesh around 20 € (30US$) . You should see with your own eyes. Children love going to school because it is sometimes the only meal of the day.

If you see how the kids here how they are appreciating the school feeding program, you are immediately convinced to support this great imitative. Therefore I have decided to collect money to support a new school which is yet not supported with school feeding for up to one year. Why not taking over a sponsorship for one or more children. This does cost not more than a dinner in our home country but gives food for for the kids for up to one year. WFP Dhaka office will directly purchase the food and transport to the school. Everything will be absolutely transparent and money will transferred 1:1 to WFP. And WFP is amongst the most effective NGO. The total collected money will decide on the school and their size.

Please join that project and let me know by mail (biagio.colletto@dsm.com) if you would like to participate and the amount of money. A realistic start could be hopefully beginning of next year. It should be also possible to get a donation certificate for your tax declaration (http://www.wfp.org/german/?n=22#IDAWKY1JIDAXKY1J). A miniumum of 3ooo€ is needed to start that project. Once we have the amount of money WFP we look for the appropriate school and I will give you further details regarding school, process, money transfer, etc. Lets make it and already know thank you very much.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two sides of the beach life – a refugee camp and a place for holiday close together

Last week, I’d traveled to Cox’s Bazar – a city in the east of Bangladesh right at the sea of
Bengali. WFP runs a sub office there and - also of personal interest - I arranged a meeting with then UNHCR – the institution who takes a care about refugees – to get an insight of a refugee camp and its set-up. They built up two refugee camps in the Cox district as consequence of the 250 000 people from a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar, who sought refuge in 1992 in Bangladesh.

WFP has been providing food assistance of the refugees since 1992.
Today, there are about 25 000 refugees still living in the camps and organizations are trying hard to find a durable solution for them. Part of the food distribution is the MNP as well.


They are donated to the pregnant or lactating mothers as well as to the children <5>
I felt really touched when being confronted again with the poverty in the camp. I also visited some refugees in their “houses” to talk to them. What’s really frustrating in a camp is the lack of privacy. The “houses” are only about 1.70m high, with a mud floor. They are built not even a six inches next to each other…. And maybe only 10sqm big – with 10 people living in it. Living means everything: storage, kitchen, sleeping arrangements , latter just some PE or jute blankets on the floor. Actually, they told that they even don’t have the space to sleep properly – and sitting there in the humid heat, I could definitely agree to that point. Hygiene wise they are trying to do their best. A canalization is in place and there are toilets around which are wholes in the ground surrounded by a sheet screen. But still the major disease problem is related to hygiene. Also they are educated in such related issues, most of them still walk in the toilets barefoot for example or don’t wash their hands enough. Consequences are constant fights against the worms or something similar.

And then, you will also find the totally opposite life. Cox’s Bazar has the longest natural beach on earth – now trying to get it listed among the seven world wonders. The city developed quite fast within the last 5 years and more and more hotels are popping up. You rarely find Western people there spending their holidays (in fact, I saw no single one; only people working for the different humanitarian organizations) but a lot of Bangladesh are coming here - also just for their weekends – to spend some time at the beach. Right in front of the hotel area, the beach is quite crowded though and of course you won’t miss the baggers or kids who are selling stuff or shell necklaces etc. Just 10meters aside you can enjoy then the more ‘peaceful’, empty beach. It was wonderful having some nature and fresh air finally by escaping the smoggy, dirty city of Dhaka. But don’t expect to have a beach life that we are used to. Bengalis (if) go into the sea totally dressed up – avoiding any kind of showing their skin – this especially for women. Men are of course allowed in this country to move around more ‘freely’.

Cox is even more extreme in Muslim religion than the capital you see more and more women totally hidden under their Burqa. You as a Westerner (especially being a white, blond woman) will be even more starred at here or even touched by the kids. Despite the lovely 32 degrees and a blue sky just inviting for a sun or sea bath, I would nevertheless always recommend you to walk around in long-sleeve and -trousers and a scarf covering your appearance. Good places to escape the kind of annoying, constantly starring people, baggers or just the one who are eager to get a picture with you, are the already one or two really nice beach bars in Cox. Built up in the sand, very simple and similar to those in Goa (India), you find a place to relax, read for ages and finally get some peace before going back to the hectic life in Dhaka.

I had a wonderful time in Cox and met some really nice people from different nations – and also local ones. Now, I’m facing my last week in Dhaka, finalizing the report and coming to and end with my assignment here – for the time being ;-).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No houses for 40% cyclone victims in Sidr area

About forty per cent people who lost their houses due to cyclone Sidr, are passing hard time as they are yet to get their houses rebuild. They are still living in huts as they have no ability to build new houses or do not have any land of their own. Some 300'000 families still await assistance for rebuilding their homes as the government and donors are far from fulfilling their pledges for rehabilitation of the affected people.

The government has given Tk 5,000 (50€) to some of the owners of the completely damaged houses while between Tk 2,000 and Tk 3,000 to some of the partially damaged houses. Sources in the district administrations said rebuilding houses under the rehabilitation programmes had hampered as many Sidr-victims did not have any land of their own and they were living in makeshift houses on roadside, river banks, shoals and slums, mostly occupying government lands.

The Sidr also damaged crops on 1550'000 acres of land. More than 3,500 ponds and drinking water reservoirs also became polluted and unusable due to the corpses and rotten leaves and other things. Emergency steps has been taken to ensure pure drinking water supply in the Sidr-affected areas. The homeless survivors, still recovering from the trauma of nature’s fury, are doubly worried with the approach of winter as the government as well as foreign and local donors seem to be pulling out without fulfilling their rehabilitation pledges and the damage caused by the cyclone to homesteads was estimated at Tk 58 billion that represented over half of the total damage.

In the 12 severely affected districts over 5,40,000 houses were completely damaged while another 8,10,000 sustained partial destruction, according to a report prepared by the donors on damage, loss and needs assessment for recovery and reconstruction after cyclone Sidr.