The United Methodist Committee on Relief is working to help tsunami survivors find a "new normal" more than three years after one of the world's worst natural disasters killed an estimated 230,000 people and displaced millions in 11 countries.
In Indonesia and Sri Lanka - the countries most affected by the tsunami - UMCOR offices continue to work daily to help survivors recover whatever possible. UMCOR also provided relief and recovery assistance in Somalia, India and Thailand.
United Methodists and others have contributed approximately $42 million to UMCOR's tsunami relief response since the Dec. 26, 2004, disaster.
UMCOR emphasizes a shared approach that encourages participants to take ownership of their recovery and to act as project partners in an effort to empower survivors to restore their lives.
UMCOR officials offer this update on their ongoing work in the two hardest hit countries:
In Aceh Province, UMCOR has helped 40,000 people directly through housing and infrastructure reconstruction, community development, income generation and livelihoods programs, and education. The agency also worked with the Methodist Church of Indonesia in Banda Aceh to help the church be a place of service to their community.
In addition to the work in Aceh Province on the island of Sumatra, UMCOR is expanding its relief to Nias Island, which was also heavily damaged by the 2004 earthquake and tsunami. In March 2005, the island was nearly leveled by a second earthquake.
In Nias, an area where many families are without access to safe water, UMCOR is conducting a large-scale water research project, which will result in a master water supply plan for South Nias and at least one water supply infrastructure project on the island.
UMCOR's recovery efforts in Sri Lanka have involved collaboration with the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, including helping Sri Lankan Methodists expand their own capacity to respond to disaster. The work is interrupted from time to time by ongoing political and military conflict in the tsunami zone.
The challenge spurred UMCOR to seek ways to overcome the causes of the violence, a determination enhanced by a partnership with Muslim Aid, an aid agency based in the United Kingdom.
UMCOR's programs support survivors of both the tragedies of tsunami and civil strife, providing homes and food, improving agriculture production, rebuilding infrastructures, and generating jobs and business development. Rural reconstruction and development ranks high on the list of priorities. More than 100,000 people have been helped through these projects.