Sara-Jane Brown

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Sara-Jane is Practical Action's Head of Communications, based in the UK.

Recommended reading: http://www.practicalaction.org

Posts by Sara-Jane

  • Choices of working women

    October 17th, 2014

    I’m a working mother. I choose to work because I love what I do.

    However I do feel under pressure to create the perfect life work balance and I do feel I’m being judged when people ask how many days a week I work and how long after having my baby did I return to work. I’m lucky, I have a great support system and my partner is very hands on. But has anyone asked my partner these questions? No. Does he feel pressure to make sure he is spending enough time with our child compared to furthering his career? I doubt it. Would he have the same considerations if he was offered his perfect job somewhere a bit further from home? Of course not.

    Society now deems it perfectly acceptable for women to work after having a baby but we are still expected to also run the home, cook the dinner, look after and be there for the children in a superwoman type role. The end result is a lot of very tired multi-taskers who may feel like they are spreading themselves too thinly! It’s hard to be a career woman and I imagine this is probably why there aren’t enough women CEO’s and board members in the UK. On the whole women do have to choose between career and home, men don’t. The number of dads and grandparents that are taking on the primary care of children is on the rise but there is still a stigma attached to working career mums.  So much so that Facebook and Apple felt the need to come up with a solution – they will pay for women to freeze their eggs so they can climb the career ladder and then have children.  Really?

    Collecting firewoodBut what about women who have no choice but to work long arduous hours just to feed their family and provide a roof over their heads.  We’re told that women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10% of the world’s income and own only 1% of the means of production. In remote Zimbabwean villages women farm day after day with their children strapped to their backs, and walk miles to the nearest water source for washing, drinking and watering the crops, whilst the men work away in South Africa. In Sudan women walk miles and miles over dangerous terrain, risking rape and violence, just to collect sparse firewood.  That’s then used for cooking on stoves that pollute the air so much it is slowly killing them and their family. And in Bangladesh women spend hours growing crops and looking after livestock only for the monsoon floods to wipe the crops, animals and their home away, year after year. This is an inequality.

    The good news is that my employer, Practical Action, is working closely with these women in a variety of ways such as; introducing irrigation, crop rotation, more resilient seeds, smoke and wood free cook stoves, flood resistant crops and early weather warning systems to help them to improve their lives.  But there are millions more who need our help to overcome the inequalities of their life. Find out how you can help.

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  • Unintended consequences of doing good

    Bourton on Dunsmore, Warwickshire CV23 9, UK, Bourton on Dunsmore
    August 12th, 2013

    There has been 75 feet of natural sandbar blocking the sea entering the Koggala lagoon mouth since ancient times.

    In 1997 the sandbar was taken away for the development of houses and other commercial projects. Sea water began entering the lagoon killing the fish and eroding the river banks The salt made the drinking the water unsafe and people began to suffer from kidney disease. Farmers couldn’t irrigate their crops and the lagoon became littered by rubbish from passing Ships. In response the government built a bridge and a wall of rocks, but neither of these worked.

    In 2007 Practical Action began working with the University of Reohuna on a scientific survey to find a solution to the problem. We also consulted local communities and fishers, and educated them about safe water. In 2012 we started working with the new regional government and persuaded them to make changes and invest in the solutions. We put in a new sea wall and are in the process of rebuilding a natural sand bar to create a salt block and return everything to how it was before. The windy & rainy season will begin to bring the sand back. This should take just over a year (Oct 2014) and then the salinity can be washed away by around five good floods.

    We are now working with 18 other lagoons and 86, 000 fishers across Sri Lanka.

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  • Flooding in Bangladesh – practical solutions

    Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dhaka
    October 12th, 2012

    Here in the UK we’ve probably had the biggest rainfall in years. There have been regular news stories about floods affecting people, houses and roads (apart from the hosepipe ban debacle), and it’s all very inconvenient, and for some, costly.

    But imagine living in Bangladesh where nearly a quarter of the country is regularly flooded and at times 50% of the country is underwater. Where people’s livelihoods are swept away in the monsoon season – and others become stranded for months on end. In June this year 100 people died and 250,000 were marooned. Life during the monsoon season in Bangladesh is more than inconvenient. That’s why Practical Action is working with some of the poorest communities to help them prevent the devastation caused by flooding and the unpredictability of the rainy season caused by climate change.

    I recently visited some of Practical Action’s work in Bangladesh. Here’s my video blog about what I saw.

    Help to us to carry on helping those affected by flooding in Bangladesh: take our Nightrider challenge and tell your friends.

    Read more about floodproof housing and floating gardens

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  • Blog Action Day – clean, safe water for all

    October 15th, 2010

    Whether drinking, cooking, showering, swimming or relaxing by it, I love clean water. It’s something that I have always taken for granted and so I was shocked at what I saw when I went to visit some of Practical Action’s water and sanitation projects:

    Deep in the Peruvian Amazon jungle is a community in the middle of nowhere: We had to drive for about 2 hours from the nearest town across rough, muddy, mountainous terrain, take a ferry over a large river and then trek by foot for an hour down a mountain to reach it. The people who live here are literally in the middle of nowhere and they used to rely on nearby, (and by that I mean a good walk away) natural resources for their water needs.

    They took me to see where they previously collected their water. It was a small, dank and dark pit with flies buzzing around it and a nasty smell. I couldn’t believe it; these people drank, wash up and bathed in this water. Thankfully our local team in Peru have worked with them to build showers and clean running water in the village using micro hydro. The community told me that they are delighted with the work Practical Action has done and I imagine it will bring huge benefits such as not having to walk so far to collect the water and cut down on water borne diseases. One man even jumped in the shower with all his clothes on and started dancing. That’s how much it means to these people.

    Another very remote project I went to see was above La Paz in Bolivia. The community told us that until we helped them to create eco-toilets, via a micro hydro scheme, they had used the local river as a toilet as well as to wash and drink from. One lady said that needing the toilet at night was awful because it was pitch black, freezing cols – the temperature can reduce to below minus 20 degrees – and there are wolves and sometimes men that roam around, so it was dangerous too. A toilet outside their house with running water changed their lives.

    Clean, running water is a wonderful thing, but there are millions of people around the world don’t have access to it. Practical Action is doing some fantastic work to help people gain access to water and sanitation. How can you help us do more of this?

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  • Dying from climate change

    Colquencha, Colquencha
    March 25th, 2010

    People living in the Andes mountains of Bolivia are among the lowest contributors to climate change and yet they are suffering some of the most severe effects. Instead of blaming others they are learning to adapt to the changes in their environment through the help of Practical Action.

    Sara-Jane Brown from our communications team is travelling across Peru and Bolivia to see examples of how Practical Action’s work is making a difference to poor communities. Follow my trip live on Twitter: #sarainperu

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  • Reaching new heights in Bolivia

    Colquencha, Colquencha
    March 25th, 2010

    Walking miles to visit your nearest neighbour and to get rare water supplies is common practice for those living in Colquencha, high above the Bolivian city of La Paz.  Helping them gain access to water and use it more effectively, is one way in which Practical Action is helping them.

    Sara-Jane Brown from our communications team is travelling across Peru and Bolivia to see examples of how Practical Action’s work is making a difference to poor communities. Follow my trip live on Twitter: #sarainperu

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  • Communicating with the outside world

    Moyobamba, Peru, Moyobamba
    March 21st, 2010

    Farming is a really important for families trying to earn a living in the remote forests near Moyabamba. So is radio contact with the outside the world. Find out why …

    Sara-Jane Brown from our communications team is travelling across Peru and Bolivia to see examples of how Practical Action’s work is making a difference to poor communities. Follow my trip live on Twitter: #sarainperu

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  • Trekking up moutains

    Moyobamba, Peru, Moyobamba
    March 21st, 2010

    Imagine climbing two hours up a steep mountainside with heavy bags and then walking hours to the nearest town. Find out how Sara-Jane got on living a day in the life of the Chamaoa villagers …

    Sara-Jane Brown from our communications team is travelling across Peru and Bolivia to see examples of how Practical Action’s work is making a difference to poor communities. Follow my trip live on Twitter: #sarainperu

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  • Passing the coffee tasting test

    Tarapoto, Tarapoto
    March 19th, 2010

    After visiting the coffee farmers it was a trip to the Laboratory to see if their beans got the seal of approval …

    Mikel the Coffee taster gives us the thumbs up:

     

    Sara-Jane Brown from our communications team is travelling across Peru and Bolivia to see examples of how Practical Action’s work is making a difference to poor communities. Follow my trip live on Twitter: #sarainperu

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  • Deepest, darkest Peru but no Paddington Bear

    Tarapoto, Moyobamba
    March 19th, 2010

    I have arrived in Moyabamba, a large town in deepest, darkest Peru. Dirt roads, poverty and curious wildlife are just a few things I’d say about it, but no sign of Paddington Bear …

    Sara-Jane Brown from our communications team is travelling across Peru and Bolivia to see examples of how Practical Action’s work is making a difference to poor communities. Follow my trip live on Twitter: #sarainperu

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