Monday, January 25, 2010

on my way home from ethiopia - a report

just in case yall are waking up this morning and a bit confused - everything is fine here, my flight to addis is tomorrow morning, and my flight back to JFK (on KLM) is wednesday.  i was planning on leaving early (today) but we had a little bit of delays with the field visits to the villages, and being the weekend the travel agent in new york wasn't at his desk to make the change to my itinerary.

the crashed ethiopian airlines plane was going to addis from lebanon - 90 people died.  it happened this morning about 2am.  when i told my colleagues about it here this morning they were pretty saddened - but somewhat removed, just as we would be when a plane crash happens in the US.  tragic - but we're all ok here.

we got so much work done on this trip, and i think we're going to be in a good position to offer coverage for 5 crops, in 5 villages, in both rainy seasons this year (last year was 1 crop, in 1 village, in 1 rainy season).  they're shooting for 700 households to be covered this year (last year was 200HH), and i'm sure we'll easily reach that goal, and probably break 1000HH.  (there are about 5-6 ppl in one household on average).  the insurance is designed to preferentially target the poorest farmers in the community - those with the least amount of fallback options during drought.  in 2 of the 4 new villages, we discovered the poverty rate is greater than 60% (those living on less than $2/day) - so we're expecting at least 300HH to sign up from each of those two communities alone.  the village last year (Adi Ha) has a poverty rate of "only" 40% - considered more or less a wealthy village in the region, because they have access to irrigation which helps them better cope with droughts.  

starting with this trip, we're already brainstorming plans to expand to 50 villages next year (2011) - and potentially 10,000HH.  still not HUGE numbers, but all the partners here (banks, insurance company, local aid agency, weather service, oxfam, and all the farmers groups we've talked to) are very excited about expanding as quickly as possible.  (in case any reporters are reading this... PLEASE don't quote me on this!  everything in this post is VERY tentative and nothing has been decided.  all specifics are my personal opinion only.  i already got in trouble from my boss once for blogging! =) )  for those of you not on facebook (mom/dad......... you're missing out!!) - oxfam's website is: donations for haiti relief are now tax deductible for the 2009 tax year. (in case you were interested!)

also- the website for our project is - there are a couple of feature stories halfway down the page on specific farmers in adi ha with a cool audio slideshow that i contributed some pictures to.  there's also a place to donate directly online (where funds are most needed) - or if you want to donate specifically to our project, there's an address to mail in a check (put HARITA in the memo line).  HARITA stands for "Horn of Africa RIsk Transfer for climate Adaptation".

thanks so much for your love and support guys!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Repost from UNICEF - Urgent help needed to help Haiti earthquake victims

Dear Eric,

I'm sending the latest transmission we received from Haiti.

There is no good way to report the news. Thousands have died. Tens of thousands more – especially children – are at risk and may not survive without our immediate help.

Please give NOW – 100% of every dollar you give to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF will be sent directly to UNICEF to support emergency relief efforts.

The initial response to yesterday's appeal has already saved countless lives, but the need continues to overwhelm our available resources. The children of Haiti are relying entirely on international assistance to survive. The Haitian government has little to no means to respond to the crisis.

We are committed to doing whatever it takes to save these children. Please join us.

Thank you,

Caryl M. Stern
President & CEO
U.S. Fund for UNICEF


Latest intel is worse than expected. Needs severely outpace existing supplies. We do not have enough to keep the most vulnerable children alive. Desperately need more resources immediately. Please convey our dire need for help to all potential supporters. Children are dying.

Details on needs outlined below. More to follow.



Transmitted: 14 January 2010 06.35

* 3 million impacted. Casualties estimate high, over 100,000 dead. Tens of thousands more injured.
* Immediate needs [without more of the following, casualties will skyrocket, especially children]:
o Emergency medical supplies and temporary facilities
o Safe water
o Nutrition packets
o Temporary shelter systems
* Children separated from families exceed existing temporary shelters. Many are roaming in debris, injured, at risk of greater injury or death.
* Electricity not available. Widespread structural damage. Shanty towns leveled. Local government completely unequipped to aid those impacted.