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Transformative emergency aid in Kenya and Nepal
– by Hendrik Slusarenka
Aid training run by medico partner AYON in Katmandu.
For years, KAPLET has campaigned for action on the structural causes of famines. At the peak of last year’s drought in East Africa, KAPLET helped remote village communities in the east of Kenya by distributing desperately needed food and water. But it also helps people to exercise their democratic rights, enabling them to demand respect from Kenya’s government. “The right to a life free from hunger is spelled out in Kenya’s constitution,” says KAPLET’s Erick Otieno Owuor, “but you cannot do advocacy work with hungry people.”
AYON, the Nepalese association of youth organisations, is another medico partner. Immediately after the violent earthquake hit Kathmandu and devastated surrounding areas in April 2015, AYON organised emergency relief for the mountain villages affected, many of which were difficult to access. According to AYON, the impacts of the earthquake are linked to deeply entrenched social disparities. People’s vulnerability to the impacts of the earthquake was worsened by widespread poverty, which tends to result from the caste system. It also matters that local governments are largely unaccountable and that there is no scope for public participation in democratic decision-making.
Brabim Kumar K.C., who was the director of AYON at the time, said: “Reconstruction is more than building houses, it is about building social justice.” This stance is why medico supports AYON’s programmes to train young people in disaster prevention and first aid as well as its efforts to fight discrimination and exclusion in Nepali society. A more equitable society is the best protection against the impacts of natural disasters. (hs)