Disaster Staff Direct Grants Totaling $74,000 to Flood Relief in Afghanistan and the Balkans, Response to Spring Storms in US

In four grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed a total of $74,000 to relief efforts following floods and landslides in Afghanistan, flooding and landslides in Balkan nations, and spring storms in the United States.


A grant of $35,000 supports the Church World Service (CWS) response in Afghanistan where hundreds have died and more than 120,000 people across 16 provinces have been heavily affected by flash floods and landslides.

This grant will support CWS as it provides assistance to 1,000 of the most vulnerable families affected, about 7,000 people. The relief program includes distributions of mattresses, hygiene kits, food, and tents. The people affected also will be encouraged to help rebuild their communities through a cash for work program. Mobile health teams will provide life-saving care and health education. Agricultural support programs will improve field irrigation. CWS has placed priority on orphans, people with disabilities, widows, and female-headed households.

The later part of April brought monsoon rains, flash floods, earthquakes, and landslides to the north, northeast and western regions of Afghanistan. Among the most severely affected areas were the provinces of Badakhshan and Jawzjan, along with Takhar Province. Inaccessibility remains a challenge in areas where roadways were severely damaged, where flood waters remain, and where insecurity poses high risk to relief efforts. Overcoming these challenges will be essential to ensuring the most vulnerable families in these areas receive assistance.

Balkan nations

An allocation of $30,000 will help fund the CWS response to extensive flooding in Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Balkan nations where more than 80 have died, tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed, and more than 1.6 million people are affected. Assessments of needs have shown a wide range including personal hygiene supplies, food, water, shelter, medications, as well as major infrastructure repairs, utility repair, and land mine removal.

This grant supports the CWS focus on providing food, personal health and hygiene supplies; equipment disinfecting; tools and packs; and agricultural assessment and relief. It also supports small emergency grants to local partners in Serbia including the Centre for Youth Integration in Belgrade, for work in informal Roma settlements; the Red Cross Smederevo for immediate aid in food, clothing, and hygiene kits; and a local partner doing needs assessments in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In mid-May, Cyclone Yvette (also called Tamara) dumped the heaviest rain in 120 years on Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, causing extensive flooding and more than 2,000 landslides. It is estimated that more than 1 million people have been directly or indirectly affected. Some estimates are that damage from the floods will reach the billions in monetary terms, and in Bosnia it could exceed the damage from that country’s 1992-95 civil war. The ACT Alliance reports in addition that large amounts of arable land are under water and large numbers of livestock have been killed. Infrastructure is being reestablished in multiple locations, but access to potable water is still an issue, including in remote mountain villages that have had wells, roads, and bridges damaged or destroyed by flash flooding.

CWS is working in coalition with other ACT members, which include Philanthropy, the humanitarian arm of the Serbian Orthodox Church; International Orthodox Christian Charities; and Hungarian InterChurch Aid.

Bread of Life, Serbia

A grant of $5,000 is supporting the Bread of Life response to the extensive flooding in Serbia. Bread of Life is a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) placement site and is in the midst of the flooding. It has developed a program to offer assistance to families. Staff visit homes to assess the damage and needs, and select the most ”endangered“ families based on income and family size. The Brethren funds will assist Bread of Life help an additional 25 families in purchasing the most needed items, including furniture, appliances, and building materials. Bread of Life (Hleb Zivota) is a nonprofit humanitarian association that has been operating in Belgrade since 1992.

Spring storms in the US

An allocation of $4,000 will help CWS respond to damage and destruction caused by spring storms throughout the United States. The grant supports the shipping of Clean-Up Buckets and Hygiene Kits to communities that request this assistance. CWS will also provide these communities with training, expertise, and support in long-term recovery.

Extensive spring storms have brought tornadoes, flooding, and straight-line winds to at least 17 states. The loss of life, home damage, and destruction is extensive in smaller pockets in these states. Additional disasters this spring were the mudslide near Oso, Wash., and the Etiwanda Wildfire in drought-stricken California.

To date, CWS has shipped 252 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets and 500 Hygiene Kits to Jefferson County, Ala., and 75 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets to Baxter Springs, Kan., and expects to process at least three more material shipments.

For more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Emergency Disaster Fund, go to www.brethren.org/bdm and www.brethren.org/edf .

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