STAMFORD, CT, April 24, 2007-Economically vulnerable Sri Lankans who are still finding their footing after the 2004 tsunami are among those to receive aid worth millions of dollars. The action was among several approved April 24 by the board of United Methodist Committee on Relief meeting in Stamford, Conn., and adding to more than $7.6 million.
The aid bolsters a "challenging, complex and often dangerous environment," the Sri Lanka request stated in part. Total granted to the Sri Lanka project was $4,715,395. UMCOR board president Bishop Edward W. Paup, Pacific Northwest, praised the program's comprehensive approach. "It's not only about what we're doing for individual families but how our service will strengthen their sense of community," he said.
Included in the funding was $159,764 for upgrades to disaster response capacity of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka. Funds will be disbursed, as is UMCOR's usual practice, based on actual expenditures in the field.
In another action, directors voted to provide aid to some 650 vulnerable families returning home to Kabul and Wardak in Afghanistan. Valued at $177,868, the funds will purchase livestock with the grant and training for the families in animal husbandry as a means to earn a living. The funds will close out the account "Love in the Midst of Tragedy," the United Methodist response to recovery needs following 9/11.
Sri Lanka Holistic Response
Women and children, as well as displaced families and the elderly, are struggling to rebuild in Sri Lanka while in the midst of civil conflict that has intensified the damage caused by the tsunami. Church funds will augment public grants to repair or construct homes for some 150 families, many of them woman-headed, as well as provide job training or small loans to benefit another 8,000 families.
Congruent with UMCOR's policy of providing holistic solutions in disaster recovery, small-scale rehabilitation of vital community services will also be part of the program, and will affect some 14,000 families in four towns. Examples include increasing access to fresh drinking water, repair to electrical networks, and ensuring that schools have adequate sanitation facilities. "These grants demonstrate the strength of UMCOR's humanitarian presence in regions of the world that struggle to recover from the losses of disasters," said Bishop Paup.
Banda Aceh Revitalization
The UMCOR board also approved $2,077,473 for community development in Banda Aceh. Rebuilding homes continues to be a priority for UMCOR in the remote areas Sumatra's northern tip. Like the Sri Lanka programs, these will address holistic needs of new or repaired homes, the need for strengthened business skills, and restoration of roads, water sources, and schools. UMCOR partners with local communities, other international nongovernmental organizations, UN agencies and the Indonesian government for its work in Indonesia.
Pakistan, Sudan Development
Funding was earmarked for earthquake recovery in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Church World Service is UMCOR's implementing partner in the region, serving 75,000 individuals with health programs, provision of fresh water, and other health and psychosocial benefits. UMCOR's share in the recovery was approved at $500,000.
The board gave a nod for office construction in Yei, Southern Sudan, and ratified emergency releases, approved by a subcommittee of the board in the previous six months, amounting to $2,650,753.