Micah Challenge Update, December 2007

General December 18, 2007


December 2007 (Issue 6)

Dear Friends,

This Update is sent bi-monthly and keeps you informed about the international campaign developments, plans and events.
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Micah Challenge Sunday and 'Stand Up Speak Out', 14-17 October 2007

Micah Challenge national campaigns organised Stand up Speak out events in all continents and participated strongly in national Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) platform events worldwide.

Micah Challenge national campaigns in Africa mobilised in excess of 62,500 participants in Micah Challenge 'Stand up Speak out' campaign activities.

Micah Challenge’s more established campaigns in Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Nigeria and DR Congo were able to produce strong participation within the short time frame of the program. In addition to the mobilisation itself, 'Stand up' has helped these campaigns to extend and deepen the community base for their longer term work to promote active citizenship focussed on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

You can view an excellent video collage of events in Zambia is at http://youtube.com/profile?user=jczambia.

'Stand up Speak out' has enabled the newer Micah Challenge campaigns in Africa to gain profile, strengthen networks and begin to build a base among churches for sustained campaigning over the next eight years.

§ Micah Challenge Burkina Faso organised a diverse range of activities: a march to parliament house with a statement to the government to continue their efforts on achieving the MDGs; a football match; radio messaging and a briefing workshop for the strategically-important Christian Student Union. It is keen to plan activities for 2008.

§ Micah Challenge South Africa mobilised in 4 key regions. One event took place in an informal settlement where access to clean drinking water, unemployment and hunger as issues pertinent to the community were discussed. Follow up steps are being taken to tackle some of the commitments made by local council. Another event at a local clinic used 'Stand up' to draw attention to the lack of effective delivery regarding Voluntary Treatment and counselling services to the community. The campaign is keen to continue with these active citizenship activities.

§ Micah Challenge Tanzania is only starting to build up its campaign and decided to focus its attention on one workshop with key leaders and mobilise the wider community through active media work. As part of their organised 'Stand up' workshop they talked for the first time with local government officials on poverty issues. They were encouraged to continue to do so and build up their network within the country, which they are keen to do.

§ Micah Challenge Uganda used its extensive network of church relationships to organise seven events. Five of the poorest districts in Northern Uganda who have been experiencing LRA-led armed conflicts in for the last 18 years (and lately some flooding) participated in the campaign because they were eager to do so because of the extreme levels of poverty in their region. The campaign also organised lobbying activities at the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in November in Kampala.

§ Micah Challenge Botswana organised briefing workshops in three locations, whose participants took part in 'Stand up Speak out'. The number of participants was lower than expected but as a consequence of the activity a follow-up conference was held on 31 October 2007 to focus attention on Poverty Eradication.

Please find a collection of inspiring pictures of 'Stand up' activities in Africa at < www.flickr.com > (User name: Micahchallenge; Password: Standup2007)
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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon endorses Micah Challenge as ally in the fight to end global poverty

At a meeting of Micah Challenge leaders and America's National Association of Evangelicals, Ban Ki-Moon encouraged Christians in the vital role they play in pushing governments to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The Rev Joel Edwards, chair of Micah Challenge, said, “To actually have the Secretary General of the UN saying that Micah Challenge is regarded as a serious and critical partner in the enterprise to reduce absolute poverty is just great news. World governments are realising that they cannot ignore the church in the battle to eradicate poverty. Micah Challenge is in a unique position to bring together some of the expertise within the Christian world and to work positively with governments to end extreme poverty.”
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Micah Challenge Australia meets the Prime minister

A three-year programme of Micah Challenge Australia active citizenship strategies in conjunction with Make Poverty History Australia ‘crescendoed’ during the period with a second mass constituent lobby visit to Parliament House and a letter and card writing campaign which produced over 50,000 items and generated meetings with the Prime Minister and other senior parliamentarians and key party figures. The key result was an election campaign promise by the Opposition party to lift Australian aid to 0.5% of GDP (nearly doubling). Micah Challenge hosted forums during the election campaign itself and mobilised very high profile church leaders to get the best media coverage yet achieved in Australia for ‘global poverty’ during an election campaign. (The Opposition was subsequently elected and Australian aid is set to increase in line with the promise!)
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MC Portugal campaigns against EU's Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)

MC Portugal spoke out against unfair trade and EPAs (trade deals between the EU and African, Pacific and Caribbean nations) at a large gathering at Lisbon's largest bookstore. The meeting was part of a conference organised by one of Portugal's universities. Representatives from Micah Challenge and the Faith and Justice network later met with an advisor to the Secretary of State for economic and financial issues. At this meeting many concerns were raised about the detrimental impact EPAs will have upon developing countries and their potential to undermine progress across a range of MDGs.
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Micah Challenge Asian coordinators consultation in Malaysia, October 07

Micah Challenge National Coordinators from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in October in conjunction with the Micah Network Asia Consultation. The meeting aimed at training new campaign coordinators and building the capacity of all campaign coordinators to develop active citizenship approaches. Together with the director of the Millennium Campaign in Asia, Minar Pimpal, a broad framework for action in 2008 was set.

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Micah Challenge European Consultation in Switzerland, 25-27 October 07

Campaign coordinators from Albania, France, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland (German), Switzerland (French), the UK and the USA met to share good practice and innovative ideas to achieve the goals of Micah Challenge in their countries. The group developed strategic plans for 2008 and 09 together.
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Micah Challenge Sunday 2008

The date for Micah Challenge Sunday for next year was set for 19 October 2008. A warm invitation to participate is extended to all churches and organisations that are linked to Micah Challenge. Resources will be available from various National Campaigns.

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Planned Regional coordinators meetings in Zambia and Peru

Regional National coordinators meetings for Africa and Latin America are planned for 23 February – 1 March in Zambia for all African coordinators, and in April in conjunction with the Micah Network Consultation in Peru.

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Changes in Micah Challenge International

Significant changes have taken place in Micah Challenge International.

§ New Micah Challenge International Board appointed

WEA representatives on the new Board are: Joel Edwards (UK & Chair), Paul Mususu (Zambia), Tehmina Arora (India) and Geoff Tunnicliffe (WEA International Director).

MN representatives are: Loida Carriel (Ecuador), Andy Atkins (UK), Steve Bradbury (Australia) and Jane Furniss (Micah Network International Coordinator).

The two independents are Fidelis Wainaina (Kenya) and Peter Vander Meulen (USA). The Board has also appointed Ken Morgan (UK) as treasurer.

§ Changes in staff team

Due to various factors, and in particular the problem of securing adequate funding for Micah Challenge International, the International Board decided to not renew Michael Smitheram's contract as International Coordinator.

Chair Joel Edwards writes:
'It’s very hard to put into words the disappointment we feel at having to terminate Michael’s employment. Micah Challenge owes him an enormous debt and all of us recognise that the campaign would not have succeeded to this point without his commitment, determination and personal sacrifice.'

Regine Nagel will continue to work as Micah Challenge’s national campaigns coordinator, but will now be employed by the Micah Network in this capacity.

While Micah Challenge International is not currently in a position to replace the International Coordinator, it has allocated key responsibilities to members of the board on an interim basis:

Global representation and Chair: Joel Edwards
Advocacy: Andy Atkins
Fundraising: Steve Bradbury
National campaigns: Jane Furniss
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39 National Micah Challenge campaigns as at December 2007

Please view the latest National campaigns report here

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Please send information you'd like us to include in the next update to Regine.Nagel@micahchallenge.org. This update goes out to all Micah Challenge key international contacts.