Flooding in the Chaco Region of Paraguay
Three weeks of record-setting rains have caused floods affecting more than 40,000 people in the Chaco region of Paraguay. Week of Compassion supports the Chaco Program of Church World Service, along with Foods Resource Bank, in Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina to work with indigenous communities in the region to end hunger and promote sustainable community development.
In 2007, Executive Director Amy Gopp visited the program with Felix Ortiz, Area Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The majority of those affected by the current floods are those living in indigenous communities, many of whom have seen their livelihoods destroyed due to the loss of animals and crops. Others are facing difficulties because the affected areas are isolated, and accessible roads have been cut off.
The floods have prompted the Paraguayan government to declare a 90-day state of emergency; an official emergency response is being coordinated focusing on urgent evacuation and rescue work, as well as providing emergency assistance to flooded communities. The region most affected is located on the Pilcomayo River, which has burst its banks, flooding communities of more than 5,000 indigenous and non-indigenous families who live and depend on the river for their livelihoods.
These families live in conditions of dire poverty. As a result of the flooding these communities have lost access not only to food sources but also to crops and livestock needed to earn income. Estate, farm and urban workers have also lost their jobs. "It is clear that this flooding will have a serious impact on the livelihoods and food security of indigenous communities for months, if not years, to come," said CWS staff based in the region.
Week of Compassion will direct funds to CWS who is working with several partners, including Mingara and fellow ACT Alliance member, Comité de Iglesias para Ayudas de Emergencia (the Committee of Churches for Emergency Aid), to coordinate a response.
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Workshop to focus on helping Harrisburg, Illinois, recover from tornado
Rev. Bryan Crousore, an emergency response specialist with Church World Service, will conduct a free workshop on "Long-Term Recovery from Disasters" for clergy and community members who are helping people affected by the Feb. 29 tornado in Harrisburg, Illinois.
The workshop will take place on May 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Zion United Church of Christ, 930 West Cherry St., in Marion, Ill. It will cover topics such as organizing a long-term recovery committee, identifying needs caused by the tornado and using appropriate resources to meet these needs. No registration is necessary to attend the workshop and all are welcome.
Rev. Crousore is an expert at helping communities get organized to meet local needs following a disaster. He began this work when a devastating tornado struck the town of Xenia, Ohio, in 1974, near where he served as a pastor. Since then, Rev. Crousore has responded to many disasters as a pastor in the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and as a volunteer and staff member for Church World Service, a humanitarian assistance ministry of 37 Christian communions in the United States. Rev. Crousore has provided training in the "long-term recovery process" to Midwestern and Appalachian communities affected by floods, tornadoes and other disasters. He has also helped train staff members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, members of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters and other groups.
While each disaster is different, there are many lessons that can be learned from the experiences of disaster-affected communities, Rev. Crousore says. One lesson is that communities recover better when they have a shared vision of the future. "I hope faith leaders and social service agencies will come together around a shared vision of long-term recovery from the Harrisburg tornado," Rev. Crousore says.
For more information, please contact our colleague Tim Shenk at Church World Service, firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-870-2728.
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