WoC Responds to Immediate and Ongoing Relief Efforts across Asia

Radha and her husband, Poona, are among the displaced in Mirpurkhas District, Sindh. Photo: Donna Fernandes, CWS

Pakistan Flood Relief – Needs Are Urgent
Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan are causing widespread damage, particularly in the southern province of Sindh. Some 5 million residents of Sindh have been impacted. In Sindh alone, approximately 700,000 homes have been damaged, and more than 1.7 million acres of crops are affected.

Tens of thousands of people are residing in 1,484 temporary camps. The majority of these people lack access to shelter, food, medicines and clean drinking water. This has worsened what were already serious and grave conditions of poverty. With the loss of farm fields and livestock, families have lost their sources of income to buy food. Inadequate access to health facilities is increasing concern for waterborne diseases and nutrition deficiencies. The current situation also worsens food and drinking water shortages already prevalent in rural areas.

Thus, as part of a coordinated response by members of the ACT Alliance and Church World Service, Week of Compassion is contributing to responding to the floods in Pakistan. Through CWS, we are providing food and non-food items (including food packages, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and sleeping mats), shelter kits, hygiene kits and health services.  

To donate to Pakistan relief, please visit here.

An Update: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief
A devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering a massive tsunami that washed away several coastal cities, destroyed critical infrastructure, crippled more than 7,000 businesses, and was primarily responsible for the death of a confirmed 15,776 people. In addition to the fatalities, as of Sept. 8, confirmed injured were 5,929 persons, and 4,225 are either still missing or are unaccounted for. Some 450,000 people were made homeless by the disaster. The World Bank has estimated the total economic cost of the disaster to be around $235 billion, or 4 percent of Japan’s GDP, the costliest natural disaster on record. Although Japan’s GDP is expected to rebound late in the year or early next year, some have said that Japan’s net wealth has been permanently reduced.

Infrastructure was particularly hard hit in this disaster -- 120,000 buildings-including houses, factories, offices, schools and community centers-were destroyed by the tsunami. Of these, 78,000 were washed away. A further 220,000 buildings were damaged. The hardest-hit towns along the coastal areas of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures are still struggling to recover.  Some towns saw more than half their population lost. Since moving into temporary housing from the evacuation centers, many survivors have become more susceptible to depression and alcoholism, since many of them now live alone, separated from the communities that provided them with moral and practical support. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is also a problem.

The earthquake and tsunami also destabilized the Daiichi nuclear power station in Fukushima, causing reactors to overheat and leak radiation. The nuclear crisis is still posing challenges, and the company in charge of the plant has indicated that it could take the rest of the year for them to get radiation leakage fully under control.

Through Church World Service, Week of Compassion continues to support a broad group of partners, including some of those under the umbrella grouping Japan Platform, or JPF, an international emergency humanitarian aid consortium of 32 Japanese non-governmental organizations, the business community and the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CWS has also provided some support to the Japan Ecumenical Disaster Response Organization, known as JEDRO, which is an effort inclusive of the National Council of Churches of Japan. Through CWS, we have been able to contribute to our ecumenical efforts to provide food aid; pest control and sanitation; mud and debris clearance; psychosocial support; and support to women and children. 

Through Global Ministries East Asia and Pacific Office, Week of Compassion is also supporting efforts of the United Church of Christ Japan and the Tohoku Disaster Relief Center. The earthquake that devastated Japan and subsequently resulted in the tsunami which caused the nuclear reactor malfunctions is by far one of the most unique disaster situations to ever face the country. Thus, in addition to providing aid to the people in the Sendai area, where missionary Jeffrey Mensendiek is based, WoC is supporting Global Ministries’ efforts to purchase Geiger Counters to monitor the radiation levels in the air. The main concern is the radioactive contamination of the food in this area. To read more about this particular aspect of our response, please visit here

In addition to these relief efforts in different parts of Asia, Week of Compassion, of course, continues to respond in other places of dire need such as the Horn of Africa. We will be sending out a more thorough update, including a report from Executive Director Amy Gopp’s recent trip to East Africa, in the days to come. 

We thank you for your ongoing faith, trust, and commitment to courageous compassion. And for believing, deep down, that THERE TRULY IS ENOUGH for ALL. May it be so.