HOTLINE - week of March 14, 2011

Earthquake and tsunami in Japan; CWS and The Sphere Project in Pakistan; Buckets of help there when they're needed.

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Man wrapped in a blanket
Japan, March 11, 2011 -- A man sits wrapped in a blanket after he was evacuated from a building in Tokyo's financial district.
Photo: REUTERS/KYODO Kyodo, courtesy

Earthquake and tsunami in Japan

As rescue efforts continue in Japan following the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, Church World Service is in contact with Japanese non-governmental agencies and other partners for possible response to the disaster. The situation is made worse by several nuclear reactors that lost power and are in danger of complete meltdowns.  

Some 1,600 people are so far confirmed dead because of the quake and tsunami, though the numbers are expected to exceed 10,000.  Some 310,000 people have been evacuated to emergency shelters.

"Although Japan is considered among the most advanced countries in terms of disaster risk reduction measures, the damage caused by the unprecedented scale of this disaster is beyond imagination," says Takeshi Komino, head of emergencies for CWS Asia Pacific. "Increasing humanitarian needs are being reported from evacuation sites including a lack of ready-to-eat food, water, health and sanitation kits and blankets," he adds.

CWS has been in contact with agencies in Japan and may provide support and channel contributions through them. Many of these have already started assessing needs and initiated emergency response. CWS is also coordinating with other ACT Alliance members in the Asia-Pacific region as the international response to the disaster scales up.

"Building upon accumulated CWS and ACT Alliance experience in the region, CWS hopes to mobilize support to Japanese NGOs that are on the ground," Komino said. "Contributions from partners and supporters will be used to fill critical gaps in meeting the basic needs of victims in and around the evacuation sites."

Help Japan now...


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CWS-P/A and The Sphere Project: a partnership to promote quality and accountability in humanitarian relief efforts

As the number of large-scale disasters rises worldwide, it’s more crucial than ever that humanitarian aid adheres to quality and accountability standards.  Toward that end, Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan has formalized its partnership with the Sphere Project – developer of a global charter that outlines the standards humanitarian response organizations should meet.

Since 2005, CWS-P/A has spearheaded the Sphere Project’s efforts to promote definitive quality and accountability principles to local, national and international NGOs, government agencies and funding partners. In that role, CWS-P/A has provided training on the Sphere Project’s Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response to humanitarian aid workers from more than 500 organizations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Philippines.

Through the new partnership agreement created in January, CWS-P/A will be a valuable asset in helping identify and engage national and local Sphere partners and encouraging their commitment to understanding, advocating and practicing critical quality and accountability standards.

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CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets help begin the process of recovering from a disaster.
Photo: CW

Buckets of help -- there when they're needed

Water may be vital to life, but it can also be a threat. Just ask anyone living in a flood zone. With the hard, snowy winter experienced by many in the United States, a more severe spring flooding season may follow. "In March and April, as temperatures rise and the snow melts, frozen ground and saturated soil will enhance runoff, causing streams and rivers to swell," a National Weather Service report stated recently.

“In order to be adequately prepared for relief needs that may arise if this is the case, CWS urgently needs to increase our inventory of disaster clean-up buckets so they can be quickly provided as requested," says Donna J. Derr, who oversees CWS's humanitarian programs, including domestic disaster response.

The 5-gallon buckets have resealable lids and include sponges, towels, laundry detergent, house-hold cleaner, disinfectant, latex gloves, trash bags and other items needed for cleaning.

Though no one yet knows where the clean-up buckets may be needed, forecasters anticipate problems in the Upper and Central Midwest, from Minnesota to Missouri. "No matter where flooding occurs, our hope is we can have CWS Emergency Clean-Up Buckets ready to go," says Barry Shade, CWS's associate director for domestic disaster response. To help provide supplies for those in flood-prone areas this spring, visit

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