World Vision Puts Special Focus on Children, Vulnerable Population in Relief Efforts

One of the world’s leading relief and development agencies is managing an integrated humanitarian response to the South Asia quake-tsunami disaster with a special focus on children and vulnerable populations.

World Vision International, which earlier this month had set a $50 million goal to help the victims of the South Asia disaster, reported today that a rapid emergency response is meeting the immediate needs of impacted populations while programs are being developed to rebuild communities and recover and secure livelihoods.

“[In India], World Vision's rehabilitation program is targeting 20,000 families in the three mainland states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerela,” the agency reported today. “The program hopes to help families return to their normal lives, with relief distributions combined with livelihood and psycho-social support.”

So far, according to World Vision, more than 45,000 families have been assisted through the agency’s relief operations in three Indian states and two territories. Seven-day food aid packs have been distributed, as well as family relief kits with utensils and clothes.

Shelter programs are also continuing, with 7,000 families in the tsunami-affected districts of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam receiving fire-resistant, all-climate temporary shelters. In conjunction with the government, World Vision is helping provide the shelters so people can leave the relief camps and go back to their fishing hamlets by the sea.

"This is part of the transition phase from relief to rehabilitation," said Franklin Joseph, WV India's Relief Director. "We will be moving into full-scale rehabilitation at the end of this."

Meanwhile, in India's Port Blair, World Vision has provided 1,200 people with 28-day food packs, including rice, lentils, mustard oil, sugar and salt. So far, US$600,000 has been committed to relief works in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

In Indonesia, where World Vision has helped distribute WFP food to 27,000 people, the agency’s team in tsunami-ravaged Banda Aceh has been able to open a medical service center at the Gedung Sosial compound. In its first day of operation—Jan. 19—the locally employed doctors provided check-ups for 40 children and scores of women and men living temporarily at the site.

Most recently, the first two of six ambulances were handed over to a Banda Aceh hospital and five hospital beds were also donated—the first of 300 that World Vision plans to send in.

The program has also set up five Child Friendly Spaces in various locations. The spaces provide a safe and secure environment for children, and include presentations on health and other issues of value to them.

WV's Child Protection Specialist Heather Macleod and the team are looking at developing child friendly communities that will include psychosocial care for adults and children.

Meanwhile in Thailand, World Vision has taken on the task of helping build temporary shelters for people left homeless after the tsunami.

On Jan. 2, World Vision Thailand teamed up with a battalion of soldiers from Ratchaburi Province to construct 220 temporary housing units for victims in Ban Nam Khem, Bang Muang sub-district, Phangnga province. The local administration of Bang Muang sub-district granted permission for the land to be used for the housing.

World Vision reports that construction is now complete, and families are already settling into the new shelters.

“I’m moved to see that Thais don’t abandon one another in such a tragic time as this," said Wad Jasadarom, a native of Ban Nam Khem and one of the beneficiaries is.

Last week, the president of World Vision International said the agency would need to "invest at least three to five years" in rebuilding communities and people's lives in south Asia following the devastating tsunami.