CWS Response To Ongoing Flooding In Vietnam, Cambodia, India Goes Hand In Hand With Decades Of Development Work
October 30, 2000, NEW YORK CITY Church World Service, long engaged in reconstruction and development work in India, Vietnam and Cambodia, is finding itself well-placed to help assist survivors of the worst flooding to hit southern and southeast Asia in decades.
West Bengal, India: Floods have caused extensive damage throughout southern Asia in the last several months. Among the worst hit areas is the Indian state of West Bengal, where flood waters submerged the capital, Calcutta, and more than half of the state. 17 million people have been affected by some of the worst flooding in more than 20 years, and at least 600 have died. About 1.5 million homes have been damaged, and an estimated $350 million in crops lost.
Church World Service is undergirding flood response work by its long-time partner, Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), which has worked extensively in West Bengal among poor and marginalized people.
With CWS support, CASA manages a multifaceted program of village development across India, including training and support for income generation, construction of wells, pre-school and non-formal education, health checkups and family health assistance, duck rearing, goat cooperatives, kitchen gardens, tree raising, supplemental feeding and strengthening of village organizations.
In its response following the recent floods, CASAs overall goal is to provide life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to 10,000 families, with priority given to the most vulnerable groups, which include women, children, the aged and persons of marginalized castes, who generally are agricultural laborers, sharecroppers or small farmers. Each of the 10,000 families will receive clothing, a blanket, a set of kitchen utensils set and a food commodities packet.
CWS already has transferred $22,472 to CASA for the purchase of the 10,000 blankets and is appealing to denominational partners for additional resources for the purchase of food and cooking supplies.
Southeast Asia (Cambodia and Vietnam): Since July, heavy monsoon rains twice the average have hit Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, resulting in extensive flooding of the entire Mekong watershed area. The floods this year, coming 45 days earlier than the usual seasonal floods, have been coupled with continuous rainfall in Cambodia since August, resulting in the worst floods in three decades.
Some two million people have been affected by the flooding in Cambodia, and some four million in Vietnam.
CWS has underway a projected $386,680 program of response in Southeast Asia, including provision of blankets, towels, plastic sheeting, tents, buckets for clean-up, soap, mosquito nets, building materials, medical supplies, food (especially rice, canned fish and salt) and agricultural kits (to include rice and vegetable seeds). The latter will build on our existing activities in support of food security, said Howard Jost, CWS Cambodia director.
Particularly hard hit is Vietnams Long An Province, the site of CWS project for more than 12 years. CWS has assisted the provincial health service to develop a rural health network. Most of these clinics and hospitals in the area are now under water and the staff are struggling to cope with the growing emergency, said Mr. Skip Dangers, CWS Vietnam director.
The province is one of four in the Plain of Reeds, a bowl-shaped area that will remain flooded for the coming months, even if there is not another drop of rain, said Mr. Dangers. It will be at least until mid-November when the Mekong River drops sufficiently that the water will begin to drain out of the Plain of Reeds.
An estimated 35,000 people in Long An Province need food, water, shelter and medical care. The people affected by these floods are the poorest of the poor in southern Vietnam, Mr. Dangers said. For these people who normally live a very difficult life trying to make a living from very poor quality land, the current floods are potentially catastrophic.
In Cambodia, where CWS work has focused on economic development and mine clearance, CWS is working as part of the Ecumenical Work Group, which includes Lutheran World Service, the Kampuchea Christian Council, the Mennonite Central Committee and others, to provide flood relief aid in several provinces.
In Long An Province, Vietnam, CWS is working with the World Food Program, the International Red Cross and the provincial health service, a good program, well-organized, which responds well to emergencies, said Rick Santos, interim director of CWSs Social and Economic Development Program who was a CWS project officer in Vietnam from 1994-97.
CWS is sending 100 health kits and 100 cleanup kits to the Apache Reformed Church, a mission church of the Reformed Church in America, in Apache, Oklahoma, in the wake of mid-October flooding that has affected Oklahoma, as well as Arizona and Texas.
CWS has sent $13,950 to the Amity Foundation, a long-time CWS partner, for the purchase of blankets and bedding for 720 families left homeless by landslides that hit Chinas Hunan Province in September. Torrential rains lasted more than 24 hours and caused severe flooding and landslides. More than 10,000 homes were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.
A total of 105 participants took part in the CWS Emergency Response Programs Domestic Disaster Response Skills Development Institute, held Oct. 21-25 at the Federal Emergency Management Agencys Emergency Assistance Center (EAC) at Mt. Weather, Virginia. Like the 1999 training, this years institute was built around a real-time simulation, in which participants were trained to go to a community affected by disaster to identify issues while working with individuals and groups to assist long-term recovery.
Vitali Vorona, CWS-Balkans director, attended an Action by Churches Together (ACT) International meeting Oct. 26 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to explore opportunities for relief and development programs in the wake of Yugoslavias new government.
The CWS Hurricane Mitch work team program in Nicaragua will be extended to August 2001, said Donna J. Derr, CWS/ERP Associate Director for International Disaster Response. The program was originally scheduled to end in March 2001, but several CWS-member denominations and CWS partner, the Council of Evangelical Churches (CEPAD), have decided to extend it.
Preventing waterborne disease is the goal of a $20,000 Church World Service program in Belize, hit hard by Hurricane Keith in early October. Hurricane-related flooding has washed garbage and excreta from dumpsites, sewers, latrines and septic tanks into residential areas, giving rise to malaria, cholera and gastrointestinal and other illnesses. CWS, in partnership with the Belize Council of Churches, is initiating a three-month program to provide essential medicines for disease prevention and treatment for more than 72,000 people in Belize City and rural communities.
CWS has sent $50,000 to help the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique with an animal restocking project in Mozambiques Gaza and Maputo provinces. The six-month project assists 2,825 families affected by floods in February and March 2000, by providing the families with goats.
Working with Christian Service of Haiti (SCH), CWS is helping people on Haitis La Gonave Island to develop their potential. In the past year, SCH has created eight new cooperatives, added 12 schools to its environmental program, distributed 120 female goats and made available 15 male goats to farm families, trained 15 community leaders, and included fisherfolk in its development program. CWS support during the past year totaled $19,250.
CWS has sent $36,000 to the Afghan Refugee Shelter Program, a CWS-Pakistan-based program, to assist 593 Afghan families who have sought refuge in Pakistan after being displaced by the fighting in Afghanistan. CWS-Pakistan is providing a shelter kit (six blankets, one tarp and one plastic sheet) for each family. Also, a total of 1,500 bedding sets have been provided by CWS to four hospitals in Afghanistan. And CWS provided food packages over the summer months for vulnerable families in both Afghanistan and Pakistan affected by severe drought.
CWS has sent a total of $80,000 to date to the Community Resource Initiative, a CWS partner since 1991, which is assisting 65,680 people in eastern Kenya with food supplies in the wake of drought there.
CWS is assisting Christian Medical Action (CMA), which works in 71 remote, rural communities along Nicaraguas Atlantic Coast to initiate preventative health care among 30,000 indigenous people from five ethnic groups. CWS focuses on one community in Rama Cay, San Francisco de los Caņos, where CMAs Child Health Project provides health training to benefit more than 1,100 children, from infants through school age.
CWS start-up grants and other assistance are helping promote small-scale agricultural projects in Armenia, where the economy has suffered extreme setbacks since the fall of the Soviet Union. The situation is exacerbated by the displacement of thousands of Armenians by the conflict with Azerbaijan. Government services such as medical care, agricultural support, employment, housing and heating have almost disappeared, and the food production system has not recovered from the demise of the Soviet-era collective farms. Besides providing grants for small-scale agricultural projects, CWS assistance will help train project participants in accounting and project reporting, and will help engage church leaders in social service ministries.
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