Trócaire Blogs

 

April 26, 2017

Nepal: Rebuilding livelihoods two years after earthquake

Two years ago, on 25 April 2015, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area to the north of Kathmandu in Nepal.

Bhawanatha Paudel

Farmer Bhawanatha Paudel is rebuilding his livelihood with Trócaire support two years on from the Nepal earthquake. Photo credit: CordAid

This was the country’s worst disaster in living memory; nearly 9,000 people died, thousands more were injured, and 600,000 lost their homes and income. 

Over the last two years, Trócaire has worked in partnership with sister agency CAFOD to support local partners to rebuild schools, repair damaged water systems, and to run training workshops with people from affected communities, so they can build safer homes that can withstand earthquakes. 

New farming practices

We have also been working on some exciting projects that are helping people to rebuild their lives and get them earning a living again. 

Dhaibung and Laharepauwa are two remote Nepalese villages in Rasuwa district that were badly hit by the massive earthquake. 

The families in this area are traditional farmers, who have used livestock to work the steep hillsides and harvest crops. Many lost their homes and their cattle during the catastrophe. 

Together with Nepalese NGO Parivartan Patra and Dutch NGO CordAid, our programme has been supporting more than 2800 families in these villages. 

We are helping them to pick up farming again and earn an income. 

Each of the 18 village wards now have a handheld motorised mini-tractor.  

Using oxen or other livestock to plough the land was a slow and expensive process. Families were earning just enough to get by. But now – fully trained and using the machinery - the farmers have started to reap the many benefits. 

The farmers can now produce much more, enabling them to sell their food at market and commercialise their farms. 

They have also stopped using oxen to plough the hillsides. Previously, oxen would work for 4-5 months of the year, but the rest of the time they would still need to be fed and cared for. 

The farmers can now sell the oxen to others working in areas that are flatter and easier to plough. 

“Whereas before we would have to pay 15,000 Nepalese Rupees (around €134) for an ox to work in our fields, and it would take 12 hours to complete, now we can do the same work with a mini-tractor in about two hours, and it only costs us 5,000 Rupees,” explained Bhawanatha Paudel. 

63-year-old Bhawanatha (pictured above), one of the farmers benefiting from the mini-tractors, lives with his wife, three children, daughter in law and two grandchildren. 

Their home, located high up the hillside, was completely destroyed by the earthquake, forcing them into very difficult times as they struggled to get by. 

One of the benefits of the mini-tractors is that the farmers have time to do other things, and many are using the time to learn new skills and develop their farms.

“We have also been supported with polytunnel greenhouses, and training on how to grow vegetables without using lots of chemicals and pesticides. It all makes such a difference,” Bhawanatha told us, looking out over his steep terraces filled with tomatoes and cabbages.

“Our income has now increased so we have enrolled our grandchildren in a good school. Now they are wearing good clothes and have good food.”

But Bhawanatha has even bigger ambitions for the area. He recently set up a collection centre, where he and other local farmers can bring their extra vegetables to be sorted and taken together to market. He said: “I want to see the young migrants who left for work coming back and engaging with agriculture to benefit the whole of Nepal”.

Before distributing the mini-tractors, farmers were trained in how to use, maintain and repair them. One person in each ward has the responsibility of managing the mini-tractors, and money paid by farmers to loan them is used to repair or maintain the machines. 

“This is a real innovation here in the mountains” explained 42-year-old Lila Neupane from Laharepauwa village, another farmer who has been using and helping to distribute the mini-tractors. 

“I am also happy that the animals no longer need to do the heavy work they were forced to do for centuries,” he told us.

Bringing innovative techniques like these mini-tractors to remote communities is just one way we are helping people get back on their feet. 

With support from Trócaire, CordAid has also been helping villages in Rasuwa district with housing reconstruction and the building or restoring of toilets and water points which were all destroyed by the earthquake. 

It will take many years for Nepal to fully recover, but thanks to your donations, Trócaire’s partners have reached hundreds of thousands of people affected by the earthquakes. 

Trócaire supported 31,416 survivors of the Nepal to rebuild their lives last year.

Learn more about our response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake

April 26, 2017

East Africa hunger crisis in 5 stark numbers

​Prolonged drought is causing a widespread hunger crisis across East African countries. Somalia, South Sudan and parts of Ethiopia and Kenya are the worst affected.

Mary Akoye

Mary Akoye is one of 12,000 people in Yirol East State receiving monthly food rations from Trócaire and its partner CAFOD.

The numbers of people exposed to severe food shortages and hunger are stark and difficult to process. However, with a strong, unified effort, governments and NGOs could deliver the support needed to prevent widespread famine.

1. Over 20 million people in the region are experiencing ‘severe food insecurity’ according to UN estimates. And this is set to rise even further, following a poor March to May rainy season.  

2. 6.2 million Somalis, half the population, are experiencing severe food insecurity. The conditions are being compared to 2010-11, when famine took the lives of 250,000 people there. 

3. 5.5 million South Sudanese are expected to be in need of urgent food support by the height of the ‘hungry season’ in July. 100,000 people are facing starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine has officially been declared. An additional one million people are on the brink of famine. 

4. 5.6 million Ethiopians require emergency food assistance in southern Ethiopia, in addition to the 7 million who are already receiving government support.

5. 2.7 million Kenyans are in need of emergency support. A national disaster has been declared in Kenya, with the government appealing for international assistance. 

Trócaire’s response in the region

Trócaire is engaged in a major humanitarian response in East Africa.

In Somalia, we are focused on healthcare and tackling outbreaks of potentially lethal cholera and acute watery diarrhoea.

Trócaire has a strong, long-established presence in the Gedo region in southern Somalia.

We currently fund and run three hospitals, 10 primary health units and four health centres there.

We are also supplying clean water to 15 schools and three hospitals in the region.

We are working in partnership with other international NGOs in the country to deliver large-scale nutrition support to malnourished children, and pregnant and nursing women.

In South Sudan, Trócaire is providing monthly food rations to 12,000 of the most vulnerable people in Adior and Pagarau Counties of Yirol East State.

We are hoping to reach more people in the coming months with food aid and cash transfers, as well as repairing water boreholes in the East Lakes State. 

In Ethiopia, Trócaire is currently providing food aid and support to help preserve livelihoods to 58,500 of the most vulnerable individuals (9,765 households).

And in Kenya, we are currently trucking water to six schools in Barpello, East Pokot (Baringo County), as well as delivering supplementary feeding for 2,000 children in three medical units in Loima, Turkana County. We are working to secure funds to scale up our response in the country.

More information and updates on the situation in East Africa.

April 18, 2017

Searching for a safe haven in Honduras

The homes of the coastal community of Cuyamel in north west Honduras may be washed away before 2017 is over.

A woman hangs her washing in Cuyamel, Honduras

A resident of Cuyamel hangs her washing out. In the background are homes that have already been destroyed by the seas. Photo: Frank McGrath.

The century-old community of 84 families, 522 people, must find a new home because the river and the ocean are swamping the land they live on.

Sea level rise, floods and storms caused by climate change are forcing them to search for a safe haven.

But where will their new home be? 

The community has found a piece of land and its owner is keen to sell. They are lobbying their government to buy the land for them. 

They want to be safe and they want to stay together. But they are competing to buy the land with a wealthy company which has earmarked the land for palm oil production.

Miriam who featured on this year’s Trócaire box with her daughter Maria (6) says: ‘Politicians have known for several years about the danger, but have done nothing about the problem and now the situation is really bad. One of the reasons we want to buy the plot of land not so far away is so the community will live together. I don't know what will happen but I hope we stay together."

Miriam and Maria, Cuyamel, Honduras

Miriam Marivel Campos Perez (30) and her daughter Maria José Gonzáles Campo (6) outside the local school in the coastal community of Cuyamel, Omoa, Honduras. Photo: Clare McEvoy/Trócaire

Trócaire, with support from the local government and our partner CASM, has funded the dredging of a canal which allows families to be evacuated to a safe point when the floods come. 

Trócaire is also supporting the community's efforts to secure a new home, and is working with the Honduran Climate Change Alliance to raise awareness of the problems.

If you would like to lend your voice to the communities call for a new home you can send an email to any or all of the following contacts in Honduras:

Wiladina Chang, Governor of the Cortes Province 
email: [email protected]

Profe. Ricárdo Alvarado, Mayor of Omoa
email: [email protected]

Clarisa Morales, Home Office Vice Minister 
email: [email protected]

José Galdamez, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment
email: [email protected]

Sergio Palacios, Director of the National Directorate on Climate Change
email: [email protected]

Please copy Trócaire’s Country Director on your email [email protected]

Suggested message

You can send your own message or cut and paste the text below in both English & Spanish:

Dear Madam/Sir,

I am writing to you to ask you to use your influence to assist the 84 families that live on the Cuyamel and Motagua sandbars in the Municipality of Omoa.   Due to its geographical position these are some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. In the last few years the encroachment of the sea on the land has accelerated, which has had serious consequences for the 84 families that still live there.

These communities were founded in 1900 and since 2000 they have been displaced because of rising sea levels. Today, they find their lives and livelihoods are at risk of being lost at any moment. This population lives in very precarious socio-economic conditions, dedicating themselves to fishing and rice cultivation which is no longer possible in the area due to the seriousness of the situation.

The area was declared a high risk and inhospitable area in 2014 and the families live in a permanent state of alert.

I am appealing to you in your position of responsibility to urgently attend the need for a permanent relocation of the families that are facing the constant threat of the flooding of their land by the sea.

Yours sincerely


Señora/Señor,

Por medio de la presente me dirijo a usted y a la institución que dirige con el propósito de invitarle a tomar acción sobre la dramática situación que viven 84 familias en Las Barras de Cuyamel y Motagua en el municipio de Omoa. Por su posición geográfica es uno de los municipios más vulnerables del país. 

Las Barras de Motagua y Cuyamel son las comunidades más expuestas a riesgo donde en los últimos años la intrusión del mar a tierra continental ha sido acelerada y con consecuencias graves para 84 familias que aún viven en el sitio. 

Estas comunidades se fundaron a principios del siglo XX y es a partir del 2000 que comienzan a ser desplazados por el mar y se encuentran hoy día en una trampa mortal que en cualquier momento cobrará vidas humanas. Son personas en condición socio-económica muy precaria que se dedican a la pesca y cultivo de arroz. Estas actividades están prácticamente interrumpidas por la gravedad de la situación.

Desde el 2014 fue declarada como zona de alto riesgo e inhabitable y la condición de las familias es de estado de calamidad pública.

Apelo a su conciencia y sentido de máxima responsabilidad por el cargo y función que desempeña para atender de manera urgente la necesidad de reubicar a las familias de manera definitiva por la amenaza permanente que representa la invasión del mar a tierra continental.

Me despido de ustedes de la manera más atenta.

April 13, 2017

Listening to the rain in Honduras: Amauro's story

Amauro Flores Archila looks tired. He didn’t sleep the previous night. Instead he stayed up listening to the rain and worrying that another flood would drown his children.

“Yesterday it started raining again and the water rose,” he says. “I was up all night. I couldn’t sleep because I was watching to check that the water wasn’t coming inside. I have three young children, so I needed to be on alert all night.”

Two days earlier, Amauro a single father, came home from work to find his house flooded to chest level. Heavy rains flooded his neighbourhood, Colonia Victoria. The slum on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula sits on a flood plain.

Luckily Amauro’s children were with him at the mechanics where he works. “The children were scared when they saw the state of the house. The door was falling off, so I brought them to a neighbor,” he says. The youngest still remembers being in her mother’s arms during a previous flood, when they had a bad fall on the slippery floor and hurt themselves. 

Just 45 minutes of rain destroyed everything Amauro and his family owns - their furniture, TV, shoes, clothes, food, the electric cooker, the kids toys, even the old Christmas tree sits decayed in a corner. Thankfully the break switch had activated, so at least the risk of electric shock was gone. 

“Everything was damaged by the water. You can see where the water came half way up the wall,” he says. “The house was full of garbage from the water. It was full of sewage water. All the water coming from the toilets was flowing into the house.”

Interior of the house two days after the flood


Caption: Only two days after the most recent flood, dirty water marks are clearly visible on the walls.

Amauro doesn’t know how they will afford to buy these items again. There’s no such thing as insurance in the slums.

“I was shoveling the water out of the house all night. I used a shovel and tried to push it into the sewage system. It was really tiring. The mattress was wet, so I slept on a bench.”
Amauro’s house sits at the end of the road in a dip, so it is particularly at risk of flooding. If he could afford it he would build a higher wall around the garden to stop the floods coming in. It’s a problem that is only getting worse. 

“I’ve been in the house for six years and 35 years in this neighbourhood,” he says. “I think the problem always existed but it seems to be worse. Small rains are causing lots of damage. 

“Since they allowed construction of more houses, the water runs faster down the hill and the problem is much worse. And there are also more people in the area and lots of people throw the garbage in the sewage system, so the drains are overrun. 

“I am afraid that there will be many more rains that are forecasted and I’m afraid the problem will get worse.” 

The local disaster committee, supported by Trócaire, has been lobbying the council for years to build better drainage in the slum to allow rain water to drain away from the houses.

Everyday, thanks to your support, we are helping families like Amauro's prepare for disasters, plan how to evacuate during hurricanes and floods, and learn how to conduct emergency search and rescue to save lives when extreme weather inevitably strike again.

Your Lent donations are supporting parents like Amauro to protect their children when disaster strikes: Please donate what you can today

March 24, 2017

An Evening with Brendan O’Carroll in support of Trócaire

He’s won BAFTAs and IFTAs for his television comedies and now Brendan O’Carroll is taking on his most important role yet: supporting Trócaire’s fight for justice in the developing world.

An evening with Brendan O'Carroll

The Irish comedy legend is hosting a one-off night of entertainment at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre on April 17th to support Trócaire’s work overseas.

This is a never-before-seen show that will bring Brendan, Mrs. Brown and some her of ‘boys’ together for a night of chat, music, mayhem and craic.

Actor Simon Delaney will host the evening, which will also include favourite characters from Mrs. Brown’s Boys, including Cathy, Rory, Dermot, Maria, Trevor, Mark and Buster.

It will feature archive footage and bloopers, most of which have never been seen publicly before.

The night is being organised by Riverdance founder and Trócaire Ambassador John McColgan.

Tickets for An Evening with Brendan O’Carroll at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre are available online, with all proceeds going to Trócaire.

Visit Bord Gáis website for tickets and information

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