Church agencies step up humanitarian response

UnitingWorld has been selected to be part of a new Australian government partnership to better equip Pacific communities to manage natural disasters.

The Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP), launched by Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop on Friday, will see the Australian government commit $50 million over five years to improve disaster preparedness in Pacific countries.

The Indo-Pacific is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. Tropical cyclones, tsunamis and drought can wreak havoc on local communities, destroying infrastructure and impacting the education prospects of young people.

UnitingWorld is part of the Church Agencies Network Disaster Operation consortium (CAN DO), one of the networks that successfully tendered for the AHP.

CAN DO is led by Caritas Australia and includes Act for Peace, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency Australia, Anglican Board of Mission, Anglican Overseas Aid, the Australian Lutheran World Service and Baptist World Aid Australia.

Michael Constable, UnitingWorld’s International Programs Manager (Emergency Response and Disaster Risk Reduction) said CAN DO aims to improve the sharing of resources and technical expertise between faith-based agencies.

“We are greater than the sum of our different parts. Working together in cooperation means less gaps and overlaps, wider reach of DRR (disaster risk reduction) programs, critical information sharing and more efficient use of resources,” Mr Constable said.

“Given the collective influence and role that churches play – especially in the Pacific – faith-based NGOs make a unique contribution to improving the resilience and preparedness of partner communities.”

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), every $60 Australia invested to make homes stronger in Vanuatu before Cyclone Pam saved up to $3600 in rebuilding costs following the disaster.

“By investing in existing networks of churches, DFAT’s flagship AHP program will yield high returns for Australian aid dollars, both in lives and costs saved by being better prepared before disasters strike,” Mr Constable said.

“The CAN DO consortium’s inclusion in the Australian Humanitarian Partnership is a great example of the synergies possible when Australian faith-based development organisations collaborate with each other and their respective overseas partners in emergency response and DRR.”

Image: Silke von Brockhausen UNDP/ Flickr

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