Thanks to UMCOR’s support, cyclone-affected communities in Sri Lanka receive water purification units from GlobalMedic. Photo: GlobalMedic
UMCOR partners with several organizations to serve the differing needs of cyclone-affected communities in Sri Lanka
By David Tereshchuk*
Large stretches of the island nation of Sri Lanka were devastated by Cyclone Roanu’s dramatic rainfall that brought serious flooding and landslides in May of this year. Now, the work of ensuring sustainable recovery is under way.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), supports a range of humanitarian agencies to help in that recovery.
Samrawit Assefa Melles, International Disaster Response manager for UMCOR, explains, “We are already partnering with three different organizations in order to address differing needs among communities, while ensuring that there is no overlap of services.”
UMCOR’s three partners in Sri Lanka are Canada-based GlobalMedic, long-experienced in South Asia; Muslim Aid, founded in Britain, but with a well-established presence in Sri Lanka; and the local Lanka Evangelical Alliance Development Service (LEADS). An additional agreement is also expected soon, providing UMCOR support for humanitarian work by the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka.
While LEADS is focusing on providing food assistance, in the form of food packages distributed among the community’s most vulnerable people, Muslim Aid is distributing non-food items like kitchen utensils and hygiene packs. Global Medic’s particular role is to provide both household and community-based water-purifying systems.
|A GlobalMedic worker demonstrates to community members in Sri Lanka how to operate a water purification unit.
The Methodist Church of Sri Lanka will be providing new study materials for children at schools that have been flooded out. “No child should be left behind in their education just because they have lost their books and writing tools,” said Melles.
UMCOR is also supporting post-Roanu recovery work in Bangladesh, two thousand miles to the north as reported in early July.
The interlocking work with partner agencies in Sri Lanka is a hallmark of UMCOR’s approach, which has been described as a “layered response" to disasters by the Rev. Jack Amick, senior director for international disaster response.
“Instead of having every partner do everything,” said Amick, “we will work with a number of different partners and ask each to have a focus on a particular type of activity.”
Amick added, “This strategy often results in greater connection between partners in the field, higher levels of accountability, and greater consistency of service provision.”
He believes there is biblical resonance in the approach, as well. “It is consistent with Paul's reminder that it takes many parts to make a body, and that each part is important,” he said. “This is true of the church and it is also true of humanitarian assistance endeavors.”
Your gifts to International Disaster Relief UMCOR Advance # 982450 supports responses like this one, and other disasters around the world.
*David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media analyst and a regular contributor to umcor.org.