The UK-based international development agency Christian Aid is making £50,000 available to local partner organisations in Jamaica and Haiti to support their post-hurricane relief efforts.
The move is part of a big effort by churches worldwide to give practical support to victims of the tragedy.
Hurricane Dean, a powerful category four hurricane, hit the Caribbean over the weekend of 18 and 19 August 2007.
Gale-force winds and torrential rain have caused widespread damage and the Jamaican government has declared a state of emergency.
Communities need help to clear trees and debris, and urgently require immediate relief supplies including food, water and shelter materials. Christian Aid partners hope to reach up to 5,000 families in Jamaica in the worst affected areas of St. Thomas, St. Catherine and inner city areas of the capital, Kingston.
Christian Aid had already put aside £15,000 for immediate relief efforts, but Christian Aid’s Jamaican partners’ rapid assessment teams now report that more funds are needed.
In both Jamaica and Haiti, homes have been destroyed, roads are blocked or damaged and communications networks are down.
In Haiti, electricity and water has been cut off, crops washed away and fishing equipment wrecked. In the south-western part of the country, a bean crop due to be harvested in just two weeks was completely lost.
Partners report that people urgently need water and water purifiers, tarpaulin, food – especially baby food, bedding and household items, roofing and building materials, and cleaning agents. In the longer term, families dependent on farming and fishing will need support to repair and replant.
Losses are particularly bad because families had stocked up on back-to-school supplies in time for the start of term in September, and many of these have been destroyed. For poor families, school supplies are a major expense.
Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is co-ordinating relief efforts there, but has said that the island is running low on relief supplies.
The Christian Aid Emergencies Fund is open to receiving online donations