Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Church World Service aids nearly 1 million people in Myanmar.

Church World Service (CWS) has reported that as of June 23, it has provided temporary shelter and fresh water supplies sufficient for nearly one million Myanmar (Burma) cyclone survivors. The Church of the Brethren has given a total of $100,000 to the CWS relief work in Myanmar through grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund and the Global Food Crisis Fund.

Cyclone Nargis cut a huge swath of destruction about 100 miles wide across 200 miles of the populous Irrawaddy Delta, killing an estimated more than 100,000 people and thousands of livestock, and destroying homes, crops, and property. Estimates say over two million people were affected.

As of June 19, the CWS team based in Bangkok, Thailand, reported that its local partner in Myanmar had reached a total of 572 villages in the disaster-affected region, had provided supplies sufficient to serve more than 980,000 beneficiaries, and had delivered 3,944 "water baskets." The CWS philosophy is to work through local organizations, which helps people at grassroots levels build greater self-sufficiency and resiliency.

The water baskets, which capture rainwater, alone deliver the potential for 986,000 people to have clean drinking water. Each of the portable, lightweight plastic water container holds the equivalent of a day's clean drinking water for 250 people.

CWS said its local partner has also provided temporary shelter plastic tarpaulins for 41,374 households--more than 25 percent of the total number of households (160,000) the United Nations has estimated to have received emergency tarpaulins so far.

CWS said its fellow INGO members of the Action by Churches Together (ACT) alliance have also provided food and other non-food supplies to survivors in the target communities served by the local partner as well.

Church World Service is now shifting to farm recovery and rehabilitation in the devastated Irrawaddy delta area, with a focus on immediate agricultural assistance to ensure next season's crops and to build future food security.

"As with our recovery work following the 2004 tsunami, our model of 'disaster relief' is really about building disaster risk reduction components into any of our emergency recovery and rehabilitation programs," said Donna Derr, director of the CWS Emergency Response Program. "We're turning our attention in Myanmar to that kind of holistic recovery now."

Farmers in the area have until the end of July to recover their fields and paddies and get rice seed in the ground for next season's crops. Concentrating on some 11 townships in the delta already being assisted, CWS and its local partner plan to provide farmers with rice seed stock, field preparation tools, and equipment to compensate for the significant numbers of work animals-- buffalo and oxen normally used for tilling--that were lost in the cyclone. Additionally, CWS intends to provide capitol for hiring laborers from among those families who don't own farmland and need income.

Go to and for more information about the Emergency Disaster Fund and the Global Food Crisis Fund, and how to contribute.

6/25/2008 Newsline Extra

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