Aid agencies supporting church flood relief efforts in East Africa

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Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting Anglican partners in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya as they provide emergency aid in response to catastrophic flooding earlier this spring.

Heavy rainfall and severe flooding in March and April caused widespread destruction of property, livestock and crops in parts of East Africa. Many individuals and families were displaced. In Kenya, the River Nyando overflowed its banks in March, leaving an estimated 2,000 people without homes or means of income. The flooding continued throughout March and April, impacting thousands. Additional flooding and soil erosion in DRC in mid-April damaged 1,200 homes and caused at least 52 deaths. Intense rainfall and runoff in neighboring Gatumba, Burundi also destroyed homes, schools and crops, uprooting approximately 27,000 people.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic has compounded the impacts of the flooding in these communities,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Program Officer, Disaster Risk Reduction, Episcopal Relief & Development. “Our partners are providing food, shelter and emergency supplies, while also addressing the need for physical distancing and increased sanitation to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Anglican Development Services of Nyanza (ADS-Nyanza) in southwest Kenya to leverage their existing network of staff and volunteers in distributing emergency supplies. Many individuals and families lost their sources of income and their homes when the rainfall and erosion destroyed crops and property. ADS-Nyanza is distributing food such as beans, maize and rice, water purification tablets and soap. They are helping maintain physical distancing guidelines for those in temporary shelters. Diocesan staff are also offering pastoral counseling and psycho-social care.

In DRC, the Anglican Diocese of Bukavu is working closely with Episcopal Relief & Development, the local government and other organizations to assist 30 households through food supplies and direct financial assistance. Additionally, the diocese’s network of faith leaders is offering pastoral counseling to those in need. Similarly, the Anglican Church of Burundi, with financial and technical support from Episcopal Relief & Development, is providing emergency shelter, food, water and sanitation kits to those who have been particularly impacted, such as the elderly, pregnant women and children.

“Our partners are demonstrating what it means to be the Church,” continued Nesiah. “They are showing great resilience and flexibility as they adapt and continue to respond to the needs in their communities.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is in close contact with partners in 44 countries, providing resources and technical support in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The organization continues to partner with local dioceses in the United States and around the world to facilitate healthier, more fulfilling lives for people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease.