Gaza six months after the ceasefire

Jane Moyo's picture
Jane Moyo Head of Media Relations

It’s exactly six months since Israel's shelling of Gaza ended. Thanks to donations to ActionAid through the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal we're still helping women and children like Ghada and Mahmood to recover from the trauma and rebuild their lives.

Children take water canisters to their shelters by cart in Beit Hanoun, Gaza
Children take water canisters to their shelters by cart in the city of Beit Hanoun, in northeast Gaza
Photo: ActionAid

The damage and destruction caused by 50 days of conflict between 7 July and 26 August 2014 was unprecedented in the long history of struggle between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories:

  • 2,205 Palestinians (1,483 civilians) and 71 Israelis (4 civilians) were killed.
  • More than a quarter of all civilian deaths were students.
  • An estimated 14,000 homes were destroyed.
  • Around half a million Palestinians were displaced and 108,000 are still homeless.

Behind the statistics are people's stories.

Helping children overcome the trauma

Mahmoud, 10, is one of thousands of children whose lives have been torn apart. His house has been reduced to rubble. Friends killed. All his possessions destroyed.The only thing he managed to rescue was his guitar, which, though partly broken, is now his only comfort: “I like to play the guitar because music takes you away from life.”

Mahmoud, 10, playing his guitar, Gaza

Mahmood started playing the guitar five years ago when he was given it as a fifth birthday present. He wants to be a musician when he grows up, just like his hero Mohammed Assaf who won Arab Idol.

Though the shelling ended six months ago, for children like Mahmoud the trauma of their experiences will stay with them for years to come.

That's why we’re helping children like Mahmood to cope with their experiences. We've given trauma care to 375 children, through counselling, art and drama. And we’ve supplied much needed medicines to health clinics.

Rebuilding women’s lives in Gaza

We’ve also been helping women rebuild their livelihoods.

Ghada Abdelaziz Wahden, 36, told us that the only precious thing she has left in life is her baby daughter, Lianne, who was two months old at the time of the shelling: “As soon as my house was hit, she was the first and only thing I took.”

Ghada Abdelaziz Wahden, 36, Gaza

When we met Ghada she was living in a school and desperately needed food for herself and milk and clothes for Lianne. Her family’s only source of income was farming a small plot of land but it was completely destroyed.

As well as supporting families with food and basic items such as soap, blankets and mattresses we’re also helping women build new livelihoods so they can support themselves and their families in the long term.

For example, we’ve supported women like Ghada to start poultry farms. A £225 starter kit supplies 10 chickens, one rooster and cages and fodder for three months. This not only provides much needed protein for the family but a stable income of about £140 a year.

Poultry delivered through ActionAid partner

Encouraging peace and an end to the Israel Gaza conflict

While we continue to help the people of Gaza to recover and rebuild, what they need more than anything is peace. But there will be no long term peace when half the people of Gaza go hungry and when 80 per cent are reliant on aid.

What's needed is a political settlement between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The international community must help all sides address the root causes of the conflict.

Most importantly, there must be an end to the Israeli blockade that has existed since 2007 which stops the free movement of people and goods, making poverty even worse.


Why we're showing the love for Bangladesh

Natalie Curtis's picture
Natalie Curtis Senior Editorial and Stories Manager

This Valentine’s Day, at ActionAid we're wearing our heart on our sleeve and standing up for what we love that could be lost to climate change. We’ve joined the UK Climate Coalition - the largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change - to #showthelove.

Friends Khaleda and Kadidja, 13, hugging each other in a paddy field in Bangladesh.
Friends Khaleda and Kadidja, 13, are sponsored by ActionAid in Bangladesh.
Photo: Nicolas Axelrod

There’s so much people love that could be lost to climate change, from polar bears to the amazon rainforest, but at ActionAid the thing we love the most is people. We work with the poorest people in the world, living on the margins of survival. And it’s these people who are being hit first and worst by climate change.

Bangladesh is home to 160 million people. It’s gorgeously green and bursting with life.  But it’s among the countries most affected by climate change and ranks first as the nation likely to lose the most in the future.

Three things Bangladesh could lose to climate change


With more than 700 rivers, Bangladesh has a deliciously lush landscape that families have handed down from generation to generation.

But the increasing rise in sea level, caused by climate change, coupled with extreme weather like typhoons and hurricanes, means flooding is more severe and happening more often.  It’s demolishing people’s homes and crops. It’s destroying their livelihoods. 

Paddy field, Bangladesh


Agriculture is really important in Bangladesh.  It is the main provider of jobs, and rice – the country's staple crop – is vital to feed its 160 million people. 

But as sea levels rise, rice paddies and farmland are getting more and more salty, making it extremely difficult to grow crops.   

With 37 million people already facing food shortages in Bangladesh, it’s extremely worrying that more than half of coastal areas are now affected by salty water, making farmland useless.  


Our sponsored children enjoy going to school in Bangladesh.

But flooding and storms keep disrupting children’s schooling. Whether that’s studying in cramped make-shift classrooms when schools flood, or missing school altogether to take shelter, climate change is making getting an education even harder for kids already at a disadvantage.

Mohammadpur happy home, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Fears for the future

The communities we work with in Bangladesh are proud of the huge strides the country has made since its independence in 1971, including progress on gender equalityfood production and healthcare, but the effects of climate change are a threat to everything that has been achieved.

It’s not too late

For 32 years we’ve been helping over half a million people fight poverty and claim their rights in Bangladesh, and we’re not about to stop now. 

The science is proven. Time is short. But love is strong and if we act now, we could save the Bangladesh we love. 



How Boko Haram is devastating lives in Nigeria

Jane Moyo's picture
Jane Moyo Head of Media Relations

This Saturday, it will be ten months since 14 April 2014 – the day the Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria. As the Jihadist group expands its campaign of terror, we take a look at the devastating effect this is having on Nigerian people, especially its children.

Shaku, 16, is the brother of a schoolgirl abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeri
Shaku, 16, is the brother of a schoolgirl abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria
Photo: ActionAid

Boko Haram, which means 'Western education is forbidden', wants to create an independent country in the far north-east of Nigeria, based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law. Despite the huge international support of the campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, the girls still haven't been found, and disturbingly: 

  • Boko Haram attacks are more and more violent: destroying villages, committing mass murder and kidnapping women and children
  • last year Nigeria had more civilian war deaths than any other African country
  • latest research shows that nearly 6,450 civilians died in 2014 because of the conflict started by Boko Haram.

Living in fear of Boko Haram

Shaku, 16, is the brother of one of the 276 girls kidnapped in April. He said: ‘I loved my sister very much. We would read together and she would help teach me things that I didn’t know. When I remember these things, I can’t sleep and I start to cry.’ Shaku is one of thousands whose families have been torn apart by losing a loved one to Boko Haram violence.

As the attacks become more violent, naturally people are panicking. ‘Every day, especially in the night, people would scream “Boko Haram are coming” and all the family would run and hide in the fields,’ Shaku explained.

The threat of Boko Haram means large parts of Nigeria have become no-go areas, as those who can, flee to safer towns and cities. Shaku’s parents were so worried about keeping him safe that they sent him and his remaining sister away to live with an uncle in the capital Accra.

Children are too scared to go to school

Boko Haram is also having a very damaging effect on education in Nigeria. The country already had the highest number of children out of school, but now fear of kidnap and abduction is making both girls and boys scared to go to class. And not just in the north east of Nigeria, but all over the country. Even in relatively safe areas, children are being pulled out of school because their parents are afraid that they will be targeted.

Boko Haram are also increasingly using children in suicide bombings. Dr Hussaini Abdu, our Nigeria Country Director, suspects many children are being forced to work for the extremists. He said: 'Children can easily be indoctrinated or coerced, especially in a religious and patriarchal environment.'

Precious Luka, 15, Manchok school, Kaduna state, Nigeria

How Boko Haram is affecting the Nigerian elections

Boko Haram does not believe in democracy, so it is no coincidence that the recent expansion of terror has occurred just before national elections. Because Boko Haram targets public places with large crowds, people are likely to fear going to polling stations. Nigeria was scheduled to go to the polls on 14 February to vote for a new president but now that has been postponed. 

Hussaini Abdu believes that Nigeria’s army needs international reinforcement: ‘The Nigerian government must reach out to the international community, if our government is ever going to stop Boko Haram’s continuing attempt to end Nigerian democracy through killing and kidnapping innocent people’.

Tackling poverty in Nigeria

As the humanitarian crisis in the north-east gets worse and Boko Haram continues to undermine education, our work tackling poverty across Nigeria and fighting for children’s right to go to school is all the more important.

Despite the risks, we’re continuing to:

  • actively promote quality, free and compulsory education in Nigeria, especially for girls
  • provide safe spaces for girls in our schools through Girls’ Clubs
  • work with communities to encourage more girls to enrol in and stay at school. 

Hussaini Abdu is also urging the international community to encourage the Nigerian government to respond to the vulnerability of communities and ensure that children like Shaku can go to school without fear.


Meet the kids scavenging on rubbish dumps to survive

Renata Watson's picture
Renata Watson Communications Team

Shockingly, 15 million people in the developing world today survive by salvaging waste. Many of them are children. We lift the lid on the worldwide scandal of young kids forced to scavenge on rubbish dumps to survive.

Meet Margaret, from Kenya. Margaret lives with her family on the Mwakirunge dumpsite just outside Mombasa. Every day she wades through rubbish, broken glass and toxic waste, collecting scrap metal and plastic to sell to earn a living. She is 10 years old.

10-year-old Margaret searches for pieces of plastic on the Mwakirunge rubbish dump near Mombasa, Kenya
10-year-old Margaret searches for pieces of plastic on the Mwakirunge rubbish dump near Mombasa, Kenya
Photo: Kate Holt/ActionAid

Margaret told us: "It is very dirty and there is a bad smell. I know there are very bad diseases that I can catch here. I am afraid of being cut by broken bottles, nails or syringes. There are some men who go round beating people with bottles when they are drunk."

Margaret , who is 10 years old, Mwakirunge Dumpsite, MombasaMargaret with her little brother and friends at the end of the day on the Mwakirunge dumpsite in Mombasa

Margaret is just one of the hundreds of women and children who are forced to work here every day. Children are missing out on school so they can contribute to the family's income.

Furaha, 10 years old, Mwakirunge Dumpsite, Mombasa11-year-old Furaha had to drop out of school to support her family by collecting plastic bottle tops on the Mwakirunge dumpsite

But they don’t earn much. Middlemen purchase recyclables recovered by the waste pickers, and sort, clean and process them before selling to scrap dealers who sell it on. It's these middlemen and scrap dealers who often earn large profits.

Mwakirunge Dumpsite, MombasaMen riding on top of a truck full of rubbish heading for the Mwakirunge dump

In Sierra Leone, a country recovering from decades of civil war – and more recently in the epicentre of the worst ever Ebola outbreak in history –  the capital, Freetown has a massive rubbish dump right in the middle of the city. When British TV actress Sarah Alexander visited it she told us: "It's hell on earth".

British TV personality Sarah Alexander explores the King Tom Bommah (Rubbish dump) in Freetown, Sierra LeoneSarah makes her way through the King Tom Bonmah rubbish dump in Freetown, Sierra Leone

During the rainy season, the population tries to earn a living from scouring through rotting rubbish, plastic bags and raw sewage for discarded things they can sell.

The King Tom Bommah (Rubbish dump) in Freetown, Sierra LeoneThousands of people live around the edge of Freetown's rubbish dump in shacks

As well as the daily grind for survival, people living on dumps often face discrimination. When you live and work on a rubbish dump everything about you is permeated by the overpowering smell. It identifies you before you even open your mouth as someone who lives outside of ‘normal’ society.

Dumpsite life also means being vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse, even rape – but because people are so poor and on the fringes of society there is nowhere for them to go for healthcare or support.

Children belong in school, not on rubbish dumps

This isn’t ‘just’ happening in Sierra Leone and Kenya. All over the world – China, Brazil, India – you’ll find people picking rubbish, in horrible conditions.

ActionAid is helping girls and women waste pickers to stand up to sexual exploitation and discrimination. And we’re working with children like Margaret to get them off the dump and into school.

It takes time and money. And that’s where child sponsorship comes in. We know it’s one of the best ways to help children escape poverty, give them the chance of an education, and to give their whole community hope for the future.

Children belong in school, not on rubbish dumps.

Help get a child away from unsafe work and into school - become a sponsor now

Photos: Kate Holt/Greg Funnell.

It is six months since the conflict in Gaza but as winter hits hard, thousands of people are still in desperate need of basic items to survive the cold weather.

Hajer Ahmed Saleh stands outside her bombed house in Gaza
Hajer Ahmed Saleh stands outside what remains of her bombed house in Gaza
Photo: ActionAid

Around 100,000 people are still internally displaced and shockingly the entire population of Gaza – 1.8 million people – are in need. Recently the UN said that 96,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Gaza last summer, which was more than double the initial estimates.

What we're doing to help

Thanks to our supporters we raised £1.2 million for our Gaza Crisis Appeal last year. ActionAid Palestine has been working hard to help the comunities that have been worst affected and is currently giving out vouchers worth £165 to around 500 families, benefitting 3,000 people altogether, so they can buy the basic essentials, such as:

  • bedding and blankets
  • warm clothing, particularly for children
  • heaters
  • plastic sheets to make damaged homes waterproof

We are prioritising people most in need, such as:

  • women-headed households
  • families who have not received help from other agencies already
  • families with members who have disabilities or are elderly

Hajer's story of losing everything

Hajer Ahmed Saleh is from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, which was one of the worst-hit areas.

10 years ago Hajer sold her gold jewellery to help build a home for her family and they slowly equipped it with amenities like a washing machine and a fridge. Nothing is left. Their house was destroyed by the bombing.

Now she lives in a temporary shelter with her husband and six children, which they made from prefabricated tin rooms. They built it in front of the rubble remains of their old house.

They lost everything but she is still getting calls from stores asking her to pay the remaining instalments for her household items. "Where will we get the money to pay them?” she asks. "My husband is a construction worker and he can barely find work.”

ActionAid vouchers help keep her children warm

Even more urgent is the need to keep her children warm as the harsh winter weather sets in. She has three daughters and three sons, all aged between two and nine. Thanks to our supporters, Hajer's famlily is one of the many families that we have been able to help by providing a cash voucher. This will enable them to buy goods like blankets, mattresses, jackets and shoes for basic protection against the weather in their cold, metal shelter.

If you would like to help us reach more families, it's not too late to give to our appeal.


10 things that made us feel proud this year

Renata Watson's picture
Renata Watson Communications Team

It’s that time of year again. Time for every newspaper, magazine and blog to churn out their highlights/quizzes/countdowns of the year in an endless series of lists. And we’re no exception!

We asked 10 ActionAid staff what made them proud this year. The things they said make us feel just that little bit less cynical about lists - they can be used for good! Hurrah. Here’s a list to warm your cockles.

1. Meeting children living in Brazil's favelas

Our fearless roving reporter and emergencies journalist Natalie Curtis said:

“My highlight of this year was meeting eight-year-old twins Samir (l) and Samira (r), who told me what it's like growing up in one of Brazil’s most dangerous slums.

Natalie Curtis with Samir and Samira in Mare

“I spent two days interviewing, photographing and laughing with these two inspiring kids, who despite facing the threat of drug violence every day, are doing well at school and making the most of every opportunity.”

2. Telling Barclays to stop dodging the question

Murray Worthy, our tenacious tax justice campaign manager said:

“Thanks to our determined supporters, Barclays committed to stop promoting tax dodging through tax havens to companies investing in Africa. After more than 50,000 people took action, we put Barclays in the media spotlight in November when our campaign supporter Will (looking smart in this pic) asked a question at their AGM, and the bank finally agreed to act.

Will Davis, ActionAid campaigner at Barclays AGM

"While this isn’t a total victory, it’s pretty amazing that with pressure from ordinary people we influenced one of the world’s biggest banks."

3. Being fearless at London's South Bank for Nirbhaya

The tirelessly efficient Najmah Anshory, who organises our entire UK communications team, said:

“In March I went to see the incredible play Nirbhaya during its eight show run at London’s South Bank. ActionAid was there with a FEARLESS wall installation in the auditorium to encourage people to raise their hand to #breakthesilence on violence against women.

Fearless installation at London's South Bankfor Nirbhaya the play

"We got a huge response from people of all ages and backgrounds who wanted to have their voices heard and to know more about what we do to support women’s rights and empower women. I was especially moved by the personal stories of sexual violence that many women shared on the wall."

You can still see the installation and people's reactions in our behind the scenes video.

4. Totally hanging out with Angelina Jolie

Our magnificent Grant Manager, Kiran Gupta met the award-winning actress turned UN ambassador Angelina in June.

"Meeting Angelina Jolie at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict this summer has to be my 2014 highlight. Here she is arriving at the summit with then foreign secretary William Hague.

Angelina Jolie and William Hague at the PSVI conference in June 2014

"I was pretty tongue-tied when she stopped by our stall, but it was amazing to see the media frenzy she generates wherever she goes.

"Thankfully ActionAid benefited from that for a brief moment, and I hope Angelina read the ActionAid booklet she took away with her."

5. Having our day in The Sun

Awesome Oriana and our Bollocks to Poverty youth campaigners teamed up with drum and bass legend Chase & Status, Music Speaks winner Tony Blaize and Kenyan artists Jembe Tatu to release a life-changing track over the summer.

The song was launched at Reading Festival 2014 and was chosen as ‘Single of the week’ in The Sun newspaper! You can still buy it from iTunes and help ActionAid change lives through music. Here’s the story of Music Speaks.

6. Learning to love porridge

Usually she’s the most enthusiastic and cheerful person in the London office, but when Events Manager Liz Grant faced the Live Below the Line challenge for ActionAid she found herself struggling to maintain her usual jolly demeanour.

“Porridge, sausage spaghetti and budget biscuits were my friends for the five days I lived below the line. Our plucky events team and half the ActionAid London office staff joined me on my misery mission – and we sat weakly at our desks feeling sad and hungry all week. We did manage to get creative with our £1 daily recipes though – as this, erm, instructional video shows.

“And together we raised a cool £100,000 to help women and girls living below the poverty line."  See some amazing gifs about the Live Below the Line story here.

7. Promoting peace, love and education

Our most excellent schools officer Lucy McDonnnell said:

"For me, the events of this year have highlighted just how important it is that all children get to go to school, and it has made me particularly proud to be working towards this goal with ActionAid.

"I read with horror of the Chibok schoolgirl abductions in Nigeria and the recent attack on schoolchildren in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. But there have also been some inspiring moments, with the highlight for me being two education campaigners, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, winning the Nobel Peace Prize. And the girls, like Precious (r) and Simon (l) in this photo, who we work with every day in Nigeria to help them make it to to school against all the odds."

Precious (r) and Simon (l) in Nigeria

8. Closing witch camps in Ghana

“Sometimes progress is best measured in small but life-changing steps," says ActionAid UK CEO Richard Miller.

"Two years ago ActionAid published a shocking report from Ghana on so-called ‘witch camps’ – desolate, isolated places where women accused of witchcraft seek refuge from beating, torture or lynching. 

“So it was a joy to receive news from my colleague Sumaila Rahmen that one of the camps was being closed. Misguided beliefs become ingrained over years and it is hard to turn them around. But for over 50 alleged witches it will be the chance to live out their lives in dignity back in their communities.”

Ayisethu Bujri, 40, below, was in Gambaga witch camp in Northern Ghana for three years, until intervention by ActionAid brought her back to her family. 

Ayisethu Bujri, 40 and her husband Idrissa Bujri in Kolinvai village, Northern Ghana

9. Hearing the hopes and dreams of these young citizens

For Chris Parker of our Schools team the high point was interviewing a group of primary school children about what they thought the future held for them, as part of our #GiveAFuture appeal. 

"It was inspiring to hear how they wanted a fairer world, for all children to have equal rights, and about their career aspirations (it seems the future will have no shortage of comedians, dancers, heart surgeons and maths teachers).  

"Above all, it wasn't iPads they wanted for all children this Christmas, it was water, food, safety, families, education ... and maybe treehouses." 

10. Doing a happy dance

Last, but not least is Laurence Watts, our Visual Content Manager. Many, many photos cross his desk every day from photographers visiting people in the countries where we work and telling their stories through pictures. Laurence is notoriously a tough man to impress, but even he couldn't resist this photo of a jubilant dance in Bhalswa, New Delhi, India.

Dancing during Beti Utsav celebration at Bhalswa, New Delhi

"My highlight was learning about Beti Utsav, which is basically a party to celebrate the birth of girls. This celebration is especially important as boys in India are valued more than girls. Many women face pressure to have an illegal sex determination test and, if they are having a girl, face pressure to abort the foetus.

"The photo I have chosen captures the colour and pageant of the celebration, that rival those that are held when boys are born".

That's it!

That's our list. We could have included so many more highlights, but I think these stories sum up pretty nicely what we do, and why we do it - as ever it's all about our amazing supporters who help us in so many ways, and the resilient communities we work with and learn so much from.

If you agree, and you feel like making a small donation after reading this to help us reach even more people and change more lives, we'd really appreciate it.

Photos: Lianne Milton/Panos/ActionAid, ActionAid, Karen Garvin/ActionAid, ActionAid, Jane Hahn/ActionAid, Poulomi Basu/ActionAid.