THE CHARITY for October, November, and December 2020

With Speaker 11th October 2020

Practical Action

Anything but normal!

Practical Action’s radical approach has been changing lives around the globe for 50 years. In the examples below you can see how they are already leading the way towards ‘anything but normal’ for the communities, they work with.

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic is disproportionately affecting the poorest people, especially those living in crowded slum communities where social distancing is impossible. In these communities, access to water, soap and hygiene products is wholly insufficient at a time when constant handwashing is essential.

In Kenya, Practical Action have reached more than 15,000 people with clean water, handwashing supplies and personal protective equipment, and more than half a million people with important messages about how to stay safe during the pandemic. The strength of their relationships with partners, communities and local authorities made this possible.

The pandemic has also caused mass returns of migrant workers from cities to rural areas, where they have little or no access to land or income. This is placing even more pressure on fragile rural economies where the food supply system is unstable, and unfair. Practical Action is calling for a more sustainable approach to farming that works for the smallholder farmer and for the planet.

It’s hard to get a good education in the mountains of Peru. Only 20% of children finish school with basic numeracy and literacy skills. This is mostly because more than 70% of schools are unhealthy places to be. Anaemia, respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases are common because of contaminated drinking water, poor nutrition, and the inadequate disposal of waste and in the cold mountains, the water often freezes, making handwashing impossible.

Practical Action is working with schools in Apurímac, Peru, to develop holistic solutions that address the full needs of the students. By introducing a clean water supply, children and teachers can drink without fear of illness. Solar and thermal energy lights up classrooms, and it heats water for handwashing. And the solutions are all designed to be easy to maintain, so the community can manage the facilities themselves.

But the most revolutionary part of this work has been to get Peruvian Ministries of Education, Technology and Health, working together in ways that they had never considered before. The work began in Apurímac with seven schools, and now Practical Action is working with the Ministries to roll this out to 2,000 schools in Peru.

Around the world, more than 70 million people have been driven from their homes and are living as displaced people – many as refugees in neighbouring countries. The normal humanitarian response is to provide food, shelter, water and sanitation but energy is rarely considered a priority – after all, the refugee camp is seen as a temporary situation. In fact, many people live in refugee camps for years, even decades, without lighting, electricity or clean cooking, and with no way to make an income. They are trapped in poverty, dependent on aid. In Rwanda and Jordan Practical Action is helping refugees live, learn and work better. Working with 60,000 refugees they are introducing clean, affordable energy to power homes, schools and health clinics, The energy can also power appliances and tools, which creates opportunities for small businesses providing  the community with a means to make an income, flourish, and free themselves from reliance on aid.

If you would like to help the work of Practical Action, All Saints’ charity for the next 3 months, please donate using an envelope marked ‘Charity’ and place it in the Wall safe in the church porch.

Practical Action Website

Thank you. Tony Henley

Charities and Social Responsibility Committee