Commitment for Life

The Partner Countries and Regions for the scheme are Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and also Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) .

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Heavy and persistent rainfall since mid-July has forced hundreds of thousands of people in  neighbouring countries to abandon their homes. The downpours have caused extensive damage to tens of thousands of houses, and to water sources, food stores, farmland and roads.

As the monsoon season continues, Christian Aid’s local partners are providing emergency aid to flood victims in some of the worst-hit areas, in a bid to shelter displaced families, curb malnutrition and limit the spread of water-borne diseases.

In northern Bangladesh, where over 3.5 million people are affected, Christian Aid is leading a £250,000 multi-agency response financed by the Start Fund.

Local partners are handing out relief packages to more than 17,000 people. These parcels include food, soap, disinfectant, tarpaulin and groundsheets, female sanitary items, rehydration tablets, cooking utensils and cash, to enable people to purchase other essentials.

Ram Kishan, Christian Aid’s Regional Emergency Manager for South Asia, said: “Loss of life has, thankfully, been limited, but the scale of need in India and Bangladesh is nevertheless vast. Although flood waters are receding, the rains are not over. Many families, whose homes were deluged, are still living in makeshift shelters and urgently need help.

“It’s vital we help the most vulnerable people to access nutritious food and clean drinking water. The floods submerged numerous wells and water pumps, contaminating water supplies. In many areas, these are now being used for drinking, washing utensils and clothes, and bathing people and animals. The risk of water-borne diseases is a major concern.

“With latrines also submerged, the lack of toilet facilities has increased incidences of open defecation – a major health hazard. At the same time, swampy areas and stagnant water create the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects.

“Cases of diarrhoea and dysentery have already been reported. By repairing hand pumps, chlorinating wells and providing flood victims with chlorination tablets, anti-bacterial soap and mosquito nets, we hope we can help to reduce the chances of people falling sick.”

Mr Kishan continued: “Worryingly, farmland, paddy fields, granary stores and vegetable gardens were destroyed by flood waters. Not only does this create the long-term threat of malnutrition, but it also leaves small-scale farmers in an even more desperate situation, since agriculture is the main source of income for many people in the flooded areas.”

Alongside the Start Fund projects, Christian Aid is also responding using its own emergency funds. In two regions in Bangladesh, aid distributions are specifically targeting elderly women, pregnant women and mothers with small children. This is part of a ‘women-led response’.

Rozana Majumdar, Christian Aid’s Gender and Governance Programme Officer for Bangladesh, explained: “Women and girls are considered the worst victims of disasters and the vulnerabilities they face are unlike those faced by men. Not only have many women lost their homes in the floods, but many of them are pregnant or have recently given birth.

“I recently visited flood-hit communities in Gaibandha, northern Bangladesh. I met a woman who was nine months pregnant and didn’t know where she would go to give birth, as she is in a temporary shelter and can’t afford to travel to the closest district-level health facilities. I met another woman who gave birth in a temporary school shelter.“

Bangladesh is a male-dominated society, where the needs of women and girls are often not taken into consideration during disasters. That is why Christian Aid and our local partners are taking measures to ensure the safety of women and girls before, during and after disasters, in a way that is culturally and religiously sensitive and appropriate.”


Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere.  It is still recovering from decades of dictatorship, civil war and natural disasters. The Somoza family ruled Nicaragua with US backing for over 40 years. The 1979 Sandinista revolution brought great progress in land redistribution, health and education, but had little chance withstanding US imposed trade sanctions and the US-sponsored Contra’s counter-revolution.

Ten years of civil war left the economy and infrastructure in tatters. The Sandinistas lost the 1990 presidential elections and, though the advent of peace brought some economic growth, Nicaragua’s economy continued to struggle throughout the 1990s. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch left 3,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

One in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Many women and girls living in poverty are threatened with violence every day, at home, at school, at work, on the streets, and on public transport.

Violence against women is often considered acceptable, and offenders aren’t punished. This means there is nowhere that women and girls can truly feel safe or get help. Many agencies are helping women and girls to tackle this violence and stand up for their rights. There is a growing demand for justice for survivors of violence and support programmes to empower women. Local community volunteers are being trained to stop female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, and tackle sexual and domestic violence and child abduction.

Prayers for El Salvador

In the week beginning 18th September, the Christian Aid prayer diary asked us to pray for UNES, one of their partners in El Salvador. UNES alert communities when wave surges are coming so they can evacuate in time.

Loving God,

We pray for those who fear the power of mighty storms. Protect and shelter them – through warning systems, community volunteers and strong homes. Accompany those who need to feel your presence – in the terror of the storm, in the grief of the destruction, and in the struggle to rebuild. Amen


The struggle for independence, land and power runs throughout Zimbabwe’s history. Veteran President Robert Mugabe has dominated the country’s political scene since independence from Britain in 1980.

Landlocked, the southern African country is bordered by Zambia in the north, Mozambique in the east, Botswana in the west and South Africa in the south.

Once the bread basket of the region, Zimbabwe has struggled to feed its own people since 2000.  Causes include severe droughts and the land reform programme which saw the seizure of white-owned farms redistributed to landless black Zimbabweans causing sharp falls in production. Cash-strapped and impoverished, Zimbabwe’s economy faces severe challenges. Unemployment and poverty are endemic and political strife and repression commonplace. Many Zimbabweans have left the country in search of work in South Africa or Europe.

Capital: Harare
Population: 13 million
Area: 390,759 sq km
Major languages English (official), Shona, Sindebele

Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Life expectancy: 54 years (men), 53 years (women)

Currency: Multi-currency system; US dollar and South African rand
Credit: UN World Bank

Prayer for Zimbabwe
A few years ago The Archbishop of York called on Christians to join him in prayer for Zimbabwe. Why not use this in a service or newsletter