Leading church aid agency welcomes plans to build disaster resilience

By agency reporter
March 30, 2011

Christian Aid has welcomed the Humanitarian Emergency Response Review’s focus on building disaster resilience and called on the UK Government to step up its support for such programmes.

It warns that success will depend on working with local partner organisations and communities in strengthening their ability to cope.

Head of Christian Aid’s humanitarian division, Nick Guttmann, explained: "In countries where resources are limited, even in the most disaster-prone parts of the world, governments have been slow to plan and slower still to act, and when disaster strikes, communities are left to cope alone. We have found that if communities are aware, if they are prepared, and if they know the risks, lives can be saved."

He continued: "It is essential that the Government recognises that the most effective measures will involve working with local civil society organisations and residents to build up preparedness, reduce vulnerability and strengthen their ability to respond."

Such work has been a priority for Christian Aid for the past five years and, working with partners, innovative work has been pioneered in a number of countries.

Mr Guttmann also welcomed the review’s emphasis on accountability. "One element of that is ensuring that the people who are most affected by disasters receive the benefits of the aid provided. Working through local organisations and individuals make that much easier to achieve," he said.

Examples of resilience building supported by Christian Aid include:

• In Bangladesh, communities have drawn maps of their villages to identify houses and areas most at risk from flooding. Local early warning systems have also been established using community radios and links to Red Cross warning systems.

• Hurricane prone communities across Central America and the Caribbean have been helped prepare evacuation plans, and build flood defences and anti-erosion barriers to provide protection from future storms.

• In Malawi, where poor rains repeatedly result in pitiful harvests causing food shortages, seeds and water provided by a Christian Aid partner have enabled many families to plant a second crop.

Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development. Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

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