Immediate emergency response by MCC partner aids Hondurans

Due to emergency preparation, MCC partner effectively aided Hondurans during flood.

by Cathryn Clinton

Feb. 3, 2009, AKRON, Pa. - Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) provided blankets, food and kits in Honduras through a partner agency following devastating floods in October and November 2008.

More than 313,000 people were affected by the destruction in central, western and southern Honduras. Thousands of productive acres were flooded. Homes, bridges and roads were destroyed.

Darrin Yoder, MCC Honduras co-representative, said, "There were large low-lying areas under water and some rivers were as high or higher than levels seen during Hurricane Mitch. There were areas cut off because of mudslides and a number of villages in valleys were evacuated because of landslide risks."

Proyecto Aldea Global, an MCC partner, quickly responded by providing 4,000 comforters, 7,900 cans of meat, 1,085 health kits and 707 school kits from MCC.

Proyecto Aldea Global's response was due to prior preparation. The staff had requested resources from MCC before the seasonal rains because of their previous experience in disaster work.

MCC shipped a container of these materials in July. When the series of tropical depressions occurred, the quick distribution of supplies effectively aided the recipients.

MCC usually provides immediate cash resources in disasters so that partners can purchase necessities locally, but this isn't always possible, and there can be delays in shipping resources for a variety of reasons.

In countries where seasonal climate changes could become disasters, some long-term MCC partners who have storage capacity are requesting aid supplies from MCC prior to emergencies.

This strategy is not possible everywhere MCC works, but it is happening to some extent in Haiti, Honduras, Nepal and in North Korea where MCC ships food from April to June, before annual food shortages occur.

According to David Martin, MCC material resources manager, a recent review found that MCC's aid shipments are especially useful in emergencies.

The same review showed that some organizations such as Proyecto Aldea Global are using a proactive strategy.

"It was exciting to see that all the pieces were in place to help respond quickly to the disaster," Martin said.

Cathryn Clinton is a writer for Mennonite Central Committee.