In the following interview, Chiara Nava, AVSI Humanitarian and Nutrition Advisor, talks about the Global Nutrition Cluster and how important it is for AVSI to become a partner:
What is the Global Nutrition Cluster and how does it operate in emergency situations?
The Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC) was established in 2006 as part of the Humanitarian Reform process, which aimed to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian response programmes by ensuring greater predictability, accountability and partnership. The Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC) is a partnership that includes international NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, UN organizations, donors and individuals and is based on the principles of equality, transparency, responsibility and complementarity.The vision of the GNC is to safeguard and improve the nutritional status of emergency affected populations by ensuring an appropriate response that is predictable, timely and effective and at scale. The GNC works with national clusters in both sudden onset disasters, whether due to natural or human causes, and protracted crises. Effective coordination is only possible through close cooperation with partner organizations. The GNC provides guidance and tools for each country to support a response that is timely, predictable, effective and at scale. The GNC supports country coordination in strategic decision-making, planning and strategy development, capacity building for coordination and information and knowledge management, advocacy, monitoring and reporting, and contingency planning/preparedness.
Ketty Opoka was a teacher in the small town of Kitgum, Uganda, and mother of six when HIV/AIDS began claiming lives in Uganda. In 1990, after losing a close friend to HIV, Ketty made the decision to leave teaching and sacrifice her salary to dedicate her life to serving the community. She spent the early years of the epidemic taking patients into her home, adopting orphans left behind and providing support to those sick with HIV/AIDS. In doing so at a time when stigma and prejudice surrounding the disease were pervasive and little access to treatment meant early death, she accompanied many people to discover the sense of their lives even in their suffering and ultimately death.
In 1993, Ketty , and some Ugandan and Italian friends, founded Meeting Point Kitgum, a community-based organization that offers care and support services to HIV/AIDS affected people through counseling, home visits for adherence to treatment, and group income generation activities. AVSI Foundation has been honored to support and partner with Meeting Point Kitgum since the early years of its founding.
“I’m happy I learned to love all the challenges that life might bring us through the eyes of people affected by AIDS I had the opportunity to meet and that were able to accept their condition and die with a smile on their faces,” said Ketty in 2015 when she found out she was severely ill.
Ketty died on May 15, 2017 surrounded by her family and many of those she welcomed in her home over the past 27 years.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss, but at the same time we are grateful for her beautiful witness, which we experienced when she came to the United States to talk about her work with Meeting Point Kitgum in Uganda,” says Ezio Castelli, President of AVSI-USA.
The beaches on Lake Tanganyika are just a few miles away. It is deserted, except for the fishermen who come at dawn and sunset. The wind ripples the water and we almost forget we are staring at a lake, and not at the sea. But in the peri-urban and urban areas of Kalemie, a town on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tension can be felt. Since the beginning of the year, the village has been enduring a series of conflicts between two groups: the hunter-gatherer Pygmies and the Luba, a Bantu ethnic group that lives in the Tanganyika province. The war between the Pygmies and Luba is ancient. Yet, in the last year, the war has worsened and grown that it is now affecting the whole region. Hundreds are dead and almost 365,000 people are displaced.
“I ran away and I walked more than 35 kilometers to reach Kalemie,” says Lucille. “Most of those who were living in my village, one of the most affected by the conflict, had to flee.”
Local families in Kalemie do what they can. They welcome newcomers but are not able to provide assistance to such a high number of displaced persons. The result is a transformed town exploding in makeshift camps, created quickly to accommodate those who have lost everything and continue to arrive in this little town on the lake.
In response to the conflict, AVSI, present in DRC since 1972, is supporting the population through the Alternative Responses for Communities in Crisis project. Funded by UNICEF, ARCC III is a multipurpose cash assistance program. The main goal is to intervene with an unconditional cash transfer approach to help households start over.
In April 2017, AVSI was able to reach 12,000 families and distribute $870,000. Each household received $72. This is the largest humanitarian intervention ever done by AVSI in the DRC. 72,000 people were assisted through an approach that gives beneficiaries the freedom to choose how to address their needs in the most appropriate way.
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