World Humanitarian Day: Reflecting on crisis in the context of Cambodia
Today, the scale of human suffering is greater than at any time since the Second World War. As a result of conflict and disaster, more than 130 million people around the world need humanitarian assistance in order to survive. Together, they would form the tenth most populous country on Earth. Underneath these staggering statistics are real lives and real people—the people CARE aims to support.
On World Humanitarian Day (19 August) CARE International calls for global solidarity and stand together with everyone affected by crisis. We unite as One Humanity, with a common responsibility to demand action to reach those furthest behind, and to support those who are most vulnerable and in need of assistance.
CARE has a global mandate to respond when disasters occur and Cambodia is no exception. In 2016 Cambodia experienced its worst drought on record, with government estimates indicating that up to 2.5 million people were affected. CARE delivered water tanks and filters to the hardest-hit households in the coastal province of Koh Kong.
These actions directly impacted the real people who were most affected. A woman who had been choosing between spending money on water or food – all while pregnant with her second child – no longer had to face such tough decisions. A family who had struggled to afford water when the cost of this doubled. A woman who had been rationing her water use as rising costs made it difficult for her to afford this on just USD$1.25 a day.
The drought also highlighted some great examples of how CARE’s long-term development work has helped people to be more resilient to such disasters, with women able to support themselves without the need for additional assistance.
Women like Yoeurn, who is a member of her community’s Water User Committee. She has maintained a well built by CARE in 2011 which was able to provide water to around 30 households when many others in the province had run dry.
Women like Thy, who had sufficient savings and income from the skills she had learned through CARE so that she was not financially dependent on anyone and could afford to buy additional water if she had needed.
Women like Yek, who could have been disproportionately affected by additional household work collecting water when this became scarce near their home, but was supported by all members of her family including her sons. CARE’s gender training and the provision of large water jars for her home meant that the whole family had been able to work together to store water for the dry season.
The scale of human suffering today may be large, but the strength of individuals to respond and support their families and communities is also great, as CARE’s examples in Cambodia show. Global action is needed to combat the ongoing humanitarian crises of our time, but local communities also have an essential role to play. In Cambodia, CARE will continue to strengthen women’s ability to prepare for and respond to disasters.