Lutheran World Relief Plans Multi-Million Long Term Relief Plan

Lutheran World Relief, one of the world’s largest Christian relief organizations, announced that it is shifting its focus in Asia from short-term to long-term relief. The new plan, a multi-million dollar strategy to rebuild in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia over the next six to ten years, strives to take into account the charged socio political atmosphere and the other hardships directly faced by workers.

The LWR has also taken part in the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, a five day conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the Kobe earthquake and to draw lessons from the past to minimize the loss of life and livelihood in the future. According to the LWF, the conference highlighted the need for NGOs and governments to begin developing risk reduction strategies.

"It was exciting and gratifying to hear U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland call for a paradigm shift in development work when he argued that we all must begin to do development through a risk reduction lens," said LWR's Associate Director for Asia and the Middle East Barbara Wetsig, who is attending the conference. She continued, "I was incredibly proud to represent LWR -- a group that has led the way in advocating for and successfully implementing risk reduction strategies with communities and partners around the world."

"When it comes to risk reduction and disaster mitigation, LWR is clearly recognized as a leader and 'go to' source for information and experience on the ground. One only needs to take a look at our work in the areas affected by Hurricane Mitch to see the fruits of building resilient communities. Our ability to bring local, regional and national governments together with communities and NGOs means that we will be able to do a great deal to ensure a safer future for those affected by the tsunami."

Kathryn Wolford, president of LWR, spoke of the different dangers present in current-day Sri Lanka and India.

"Socio-political factors, like civil strife in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, land rights issues, travel restrictions, unexploded landmines all adversely affect how quickly we can carry out our work," Wolford said. "In Indonesia, reports say one third of civil servants in some areas were killed. That creates huge challenges in terms of working with local governments to coordinate aid," she continues.

"Ours is not an approach of receiving a bunch of money," adds Wolford, "and just dropping in long enough to distribute aid before leaving. The waters had barely receded before we were strategizing with our partners about the placement and construction of disaster shelters, counseling for survivors and buying boats and restoring livelihoods," she continues.

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