Every year, natural disasters, violence, and other emergencies put thousands of people at risk of losing their lives, their homes, and their sources of income. In the developing world, unrelenting poverty and disparity make disaster recovery especially difficult.
Through the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), countless disaster survivors are given hope in desperate situations. The EDF enables the Church of the Brethren to actively support coordinated disaster relief efforts, mostly through faith-based international partners, wherever disaster strikes.
Nigerian Church of the Brethren - EYN
Members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), as well as families of EYN denominational staff, are among more than 650,000 people who have fled the violent Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. As of Sept. 30, 2014, a reported 3,038 members had been slain by the terrorists.
On Sept. 22, 2014 an allocation of $100,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund was approved for a comprehensive joint response by the Church of the Brethren (US) and EYN to the ongoing violence and displacement. An earlier grant of $20,000, initially intended as a pilot project, has enabled a rapid implementation of the larger scale emergency response.
Working with EYN leadership, Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM) and Global Mission and Service staff have outlined a three-stage response:
Phase 1: Emergency Response
Focuses on providing for basic needs of displaced Nigerians in the midst of the emergency, including Temporary homes (“Care Centers”), clean water and sanitation, sleeping mats and mosquito nets, emergency food supplies, and agricultural tools.
Phase 2: Recovery
Focuses on the emotional and spiritual needs of Nigerian leadership and families.
Phase 3: Rebuilding Communities
Focuses on the long-term recovery from the emergency and helping families become self-supporting again.
Philippines - Typhoon Haiyan
Typhoon Haiyan took more than 6,200 lives as it cut a 1,000-mile wide gash across the lush Philippine Islands on November 9, 2013. Sugar cane, rice paddies, fishing boats, and millions of coconut trees were demolished, crippling the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector.
BDM has outlined a plan to restore livelihoods for those least able to recover on their own. Three grants totalling $175,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund are enhancing the livelihood development programs of partner organizations in the Philippines, including:
- $70,000 to Heifer International for replacing lost livestock, expanding agribusiness projects, and capacitating groups and cooperatives, while ensuring future disaster preparedness.
- $70,000 to Lutheran World Relief (LWR) for livelihoods recovery work with 20,000 coconut farmers and coastal fisherfolk, including assistance with the transition to cocoa and other priority crops, and restoration of seaweed farming and mangrove forests.
- $35,000 for recovery in the city of Tanauan, one of the hardest hit coastal communities in Leyte. Of this, $30,000 supports a Filipino non-profit, Burublig para ha Tanauan (BPHT), whose main objective is to create immediate livelihoods by providing fishing boats and nets, a sewing center, and pedi-cabs for families that lost their homes and source of income. The remaining $5,000 provides school supplies for Tanauan High School.
Sudan Conflict – ACT Alliance 2014 Darfur Program
An allocation of $30,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund helps fund an appeal from ACT Alliance in response to government-directed violence and local tribal conflicts in Darfur (western Sudan), which continue to create an insecure environment. Tribal clashes in 2013 resulted in 300,000 new internally displaced persons (IDPs), thus overtaxing existing services and facilities.
The 2014 Darfur Program targets 586,000 conflict-affected beneficiaries in camps, host communities, returnee villages, and agro-nomadic groups. This grant provides funds to address immediate needs while strengthening the coping mechanisms and resilience of communities and building the capacity of national partners to support them.
Liberia – Ebola Response
The highly contagious and deadly Ebola virus continues to spread, especially in Liberia and other West African countries.
A grant of $15,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund has been given in response to an IMA World Health appeal for support of Ebola awareness through the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL). This grant has provided CHAL health workers with personal protective equipment, including gloves, gowns, goggles, surgical masks, leg covers, face masks, head covers, and disinfectant, as well as training for their use.
Another grant of $4,000 supports the efforts of Church Aid in Liberia to educate the public about Ebola to help prevent the continued spread. This grant provides funds for training, travel expenses and support of trainers working in Liberia.
Gaza – 50-Day War Recovery
An allocation of $10,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund responds to an appeal from The Shepherd Society following the 50-day conflict in Gaza. This grant provides humanitarian assistance to 50 families devastated by the war such as food, medicine, blankets, mattresses, gas bottles, as well as rent for displaced families.
U.S. and Honduras – Unaccompanied Central American Children
A grant of of $25,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund supports a Church World Service response to the surge of unaccompanied children into the United States from Central America. The combination of poor economics and high levels of violence in Central America resulted in a surge of more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors into the United States by mid-2014.
The funds provide Spanish-speaking legal aid to unaccompanied children in Austin, Texas; religious services, pastoral support and basic supplies (food, water, clothing, medical care, and housing) to children in New Mexico; and support to children returned to Honduras (not admitted into the US) in the form of food, healthcare, and hygiene services while they live in a designated shelter.
Honduras – Emergency Supplies
A grant of $4,800 in Sept. 2014 enabled the shipment of emergency supplies to Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) for disaster preparedness in Honduras. This grant covers the cost of shipment of emergency supplies to PAG, including canned chicken provided by the Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania joint meat canning program. The remainder of the container was filled with blankets, hygiene kits, and baby kits provided by Church World Service.
Democratic Republic of Congo – Ethnic Conflict
An allocation of $8,200 from the Emergency Disaster Fund responds to an appeal from Shalom Ministry of Reconciliation and Development, following an attack on the town of Mutarule in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which killed 37 people and left over 100 injured in June 2014. Funds support aid for approximately 2,100 people, including the provision of emergency food, household supplies, and school supplies.
Shalom Ministries focuses on the improvement of food and social life for the population of Mutarule and building peace and reconciliation between ethnic groups there.
In May 2014 Cyclone Yvette dumped the heaviest rain in 120 years on the Balkans, causing extensive flooding and landslides and adversely affecting over 1.6 million people. A $30,000 EDF allocation supports the Church World Service response in central Serbia and four regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Relief is focused on providing food, personal health and hygiene supplies; equipment disinfecting; tools; and agricultural assessment and relief. It also supports small emergency grants to local partners for doing needs assessments.
Serbia floods — Bread of Life
Bread of Life is a Brethren Volunteer Service placement sight working in the Balkans. While they don’t currently have a BVS volunteer, they have developed a program to offer assistance to families impacted by the May 2014 flooding from Cyclone Yvette. A grant of $5,000 will assist in purchasing the most needed items including furniture, appliances and building materials.
Gaza and West Bank humanitarian crisis
In June 2014, $7,500 was allocated to assist the Middle East Council of Churches in providing critical humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank, including job creation, medical services, cash support for the neediest families, and vocational training.
Afghanistan floods and landslides
A grant of $35,000 supports the Church World Service response to floods and landslides in Afghanistan following April 2014 monsoon rains. The CWS relief program is assisting 1,000 families by distributing mattresses, hygiene kits, one month of food, and tents. Mobile health teams and agricultural support programs have also been provided.
South Sudan Conflict
Two grants of $15,000 each are supporting efforts in response to armed conflict in South Sudan that has displaced some 200,000 people thus far.
The Church of the Brethren Global Mission program has staff and volunteers working in the Torit area of South Sudan, where many people are fleeing from the violence further north. The first grant is providing emergency support for families in the nearby villages of Lohila and Lafon. Funds are being used for the purchase and transport of maize, cooking oil, jerry cans, salt, and soap for those with the greatest need. The distribution is managed by Global Mission staffer, Athanasus Ungang, with support from local partners.
The second grant is helping the ACT Alliance distribute emergency food, water, sanitation and household supplies for displaced persons.
Honduras - Coffee Rust Plague
The worst coffee rust plague since 1976 has affected one-quarter of the planting surface in Honduras. Once the plague starts, the entire plantation must be destroyed. A grant of $10,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund supports Church World Service, partnering with the Mennonite Social Action Commission of Honduras (CASM), as they assist 200 families at very high risk of food insecurity.
The families are being provided with vegetable seeds, plantain trees, aquaculture, chicken coops, as well as help with improving agro-livestock production, agricultural inputs, nutritional education, access to alternative livelihoods, and on-site technical assistance.
Syria - Civil War
In September 2013, Brethren Disaster Ministries provided a grant of $100,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund in response to an appeal from ACT Alliance. The ACT Alliance has been helping coordinate humanitarian aid since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. This appeal provides direct aid to Syrian people struggling to survive in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey for 12 months. The intent of the grant is to designate 50 percent to support the IOCC work in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, and to designate 50 percent to be applied where needed most.