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Hokenstad to testify at U.N. on poverty and disaster relief

M.C.

M.C. "Terry" Hokenstad, the Ralph S. and Dorothy P. Schmitte Professor and professor of international health at Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, will testify on the topic of poverty and disaster relief during the United Nations Commission on Social Development, Thursday, February 9.

Representing the International Association of Schools of Social Work, Hokenstad will participate in the annual Commission meeting, which takes place over two weeks in New York City. This year's theme is "Review of the First United Nations Decade of the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006)."

Hokenstad will deliver remarks that support the United Nations Millennium Goal to eradicate poverty and reduce it by half in the next decade.

How disasters are responded to is one way, he said.

"Disaster disproportionably burdens the poor," Hokenstad said he plans to tell the commission. "In both developing and developed countries, disaster relief should give priority attention to the poor."

In the short term, he elaborated the poor need help with food, clothing and shelter.

Long-term needs in the recovery phase are greater and include such efforts as developing grassroots social services and networks, nongovernmental agencies, human service programs and small businesses to help people support themselves during the rebuilding. Reintegrating refugees and displaced persons is integral to this process.

Before a disaster hits, Hokenstad sees the role of the social worker to organize and participate on community and management committees where the particular needs of poor and vulnerable populations can be heard. After a disaster, social workers can become advocates for survivors, help focus on team building and community coordination and use their professional skills of counseling, assessment, case management, advocacy and organizing to seek relief for the poor.

The Commission for Social Development comes under the work of Commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nation.

During a side event to the Commission's 44th session, Hokenstad will make a presentation before a number of nongovernmental organizations. During his talk, he will expand upon his testimony and provide an in-depth look at poverty and disaster relief.

 

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