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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Phases of response to natural disaster

Photo courtesy of Canon Bill Squire

Following a natural disaster there are several phases of response required from the international community. The first priority is to get emergency relief and humanitarian aid to those affected, as quickly as possible. At a later stage, attention must be focussed on the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure and the rehabilitation of communities through rebuilding their systems of support, housing, education and health - in short, helping those who have survived to rebuild their lives.

The Diocese in Europe is committed to both such phases of response to the devastating earthquake which hit Haiti on 12 January this year.

1.  Emergency relief and humanitarian aid
The Church of England channels most of her international relief and development support through the ecumenical agency, Christian Aid. Our diocesan appeal following the 12 January earthquake raised £26,048.71 for the relief efforts supported by Christian Aid. This provided basic supplies such as tarpaulins, hygiene kits and blankets for those affected. There are still 1.3 million Haitians who remain homeless, living in tents or under tarpaulin in temporary shelters. In the months since the devastating earthquake hurricane Tomas recently swept across the country causing severe flooding and adding to the people's struggle to survive. Now on the heels of these disasters is the prospect of widespread cholera infection. According to Christian Aid, our diocesan support for emergency relief and humanitarian aid to Haiti has enabled direct emergency relief to 603 families. So, a very sincere thank you to all who supported the emergency appeal.

2.  Reconstruction and rehabilitation
The task of reconstruction in the country is now underway. The Episcopal (Anglican) diocese of Haiti, with 100,000 members and 37 priests, has 250 schools from primary to university level, a hospital, as well as the only nursing school and the only school for disabled children in the country. Much of this Church infrastructure has been destroyed. I will report on how we will support this phase of reconstruction and rehabilitation through the Bishop's Advent Appeal in an upcoming article. I hope we can be generous, as we were in response to the emergency relief phase.

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