International alert series: The BIG Issues
Beyond Tsunami - Caritas Australia response
Mr Jack de Groot, CEO, Caritas Australia
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you for this opportunity to be here in Adelaide.
Adelaide is a very important city for my organization for it is here that we have much of our founding story in the work of the Catholic Church of Adelaide.
Tonight as you have heard already there is much that is of achievement, challenge and opportunity as our organizations stand in solidarity with the affected communities of Asia who were ravaged by the Boxing Day Tsunami
A) Caritas Australia
Our agency may not be well known to many of you so let me say a couple of
things briefly about us.
- is the Catholic agency for overseas aid and development,
- is a member of the Caritas Internationalis network which has 162 members globally, making it the second largest confederation of NGOs.
- works with local partners in more than 50 countries
- works in local communities with long term partners to implement community development programs, thus strong networks were already in place in the four worst affected countries prior to the disaster. For us this is our difference and value – wherever you are in the world there is the Catholic Church with its local community development, welfare, health and education arms. So we are there often in partnership before, during and after the headlines
- The Caritas and Catholic Church networks have raise over US$650 million or about Aus$800 million for response to the tsunami
B) The Asian Tsunami Emergency and our Partners
Our partners for the response are
- Indonesia - Catholic Relief Services (Caritas USA) and Jesuit Relief Services
- Sri Lanka - Social and Economic Development Centre (Caritas Sri Lanka)
- India - Caritas India in India,
- Thailand - Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees in Thailand.
- Along with expertise from Caritas Internationalis members, all of these have devised budgeted long term recovery programs based on careful assessments, consultations with local authorities and communities
- Caritas Australia received $22.7 million dollars in public donations. This also includes $750,000 from AusAID for our response in Aceh,
- had already spent $5.675 million dollars with our partners in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand by June 30th
- will distribute the remaining funds for medium- to long-term rehabilitation programs over the next five years.
- No further funds are needed for our response for this particular emergency, however because of our enduring partnerships we will work with these communities over the long-term (ie 10 years is quite possible)
- Priority countries are Indonesia and Sri Lanka,
- Caritas will continue to support our partners responsibly, and to be accountable to our generous donors, through ongoing monitoring of the programs that we are supporting; through analysis of the recovery programs; through advocacy; and through regular financial and narrative reporting to the public.
- Caritas also remains accountable to our beneficiaries by ensuring that appropriate and considered assistance is given to people in need regardless of religion, race, creed or gender.
D) OUR RESPONSE
- Caritas Australia staff were involved in Caritas Internationalis emergency assessment teams immediately following the disaster.
- In the four affected countries the response included meeting immediate needs through food, hygiene kits and medical supplies, clothing, bedding, cooking utensils, water, tents and other temporary shelters.
- Caritas partners were also involved in removal and burial of bodies, and partners held prayer and memorial sessions for the deceased. This is obviously important to our approach. Any human development approach to such an emergency needs an honouring of the dead and the survivors. Masses were said in Sri Lanka and the Bishops performed mass funerals. In Aceh we distributed 10,000 Muslim prayer kits for Ramadan. Our approach is one that never forsakes the full range of human expression dignity including religious observance.
- Caritas Australia has seconded a shelter team into the CRS (Caritas USA) response on the West Coast of Aceh.
- Caritas Australia has provided technical support and analysis on the psychosocial response in Aceh to our partners. Peter Hosking and Maryanne Loughrey both originally from Adelaide and experts in trauma psychology.
- Caritas Australia is developing an analysis document of the overall International and local NGO response in Indonesia for stakeholders in Aceh.
E) The Current Program State of Play
- In Indonesia, we have and are supporting more than 80,000 people
with provisions of food, cooking utensils, educational items, temporary
shelter, and essential hygiene items in Banda Aceh, Pulo Aceh, Aceh
Besar and Aceh Baret/Meulaboh.
- The total Caritas Internationalis support is expected to reach A$200 million and Caritas Australia has already contributed A$1.75 million, including A$750,000 of AusAID funds.
- Caritas Australia is working in three regions of Sri Lanka: Galle &
Colombo; Jaffna& Vanni; and Batticaloa & Trincomalee. Basic needs
assistance was provided to more than 50,000 people and school equipment.
- The total Caritas Internationalis support for Sri Lanka’s relief and recovery will total A$214.1 million, of which Caritas Australia has already contributed A$1.7 million.
- In India working with in Andrah Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar, Tamil
Nadu and Kerala. Approximately 102,278 people were assisted. Key
- provision of educational materials to 4,795 children,
- operation of 46 medical camps,
- water storage for 1,500 families and more than 763 wells and ponds cleaned.
- The total Caritas Internationalis support for India’s relief and recovery will total A$104.9 million, of which Caritas Australia has already contributed A$2.125 million.
- In Thailand working in Krabi, Phuket, Takuapa, Phangnga and Ranong.
Providing basic food and non-food items, livelihood support for fishing
families through provision of equipment such as boats and nets,
rehabilitation of community infrastructure and trauma reduction through
psychosocial activities for children and the elderly.
- The total Caritas Internationalis support for Thailand’s relief and recovery will total A$6.8 million, of which Caritas Australia has already contributed A$100,000.
F) Challenges and Learnings
Tonight is about the Big Issues – Beyond the Tsunami. So what is it that have been our Challenges and Learnings
- Spiritual needs & Psychological needs of communities.
These two issues are crucial and not new but have really struck us in responding. The trauma from this disaster has only really begun – we know in Aitape that 7 years down the track the community there is still profoundly scarred from their tsunami experience.
As agencies we believe in the development of communities. This is not an overnight activity – it is long-term. This can conflict with donor driven timetables and agenda and the preoccupation of some media wanting to know why all the money is not spent and why people are not in new homes. The communities need to own and determine their reconstruction – we accompany them but we cannot determine it solely or predominantly if it is to be effective for the people. This is the reality and makes sense but is often forgotten in the rush to meet the donor agenda. That’s why Caritas takes a very long term post headline view because we will as a Church organization be in , of and with these communities, this year, this decade and for this generation and the second generation of children of survivors still hearing and accompanying the trauma.
- Challenge when so much money is available not to build up a bureaucracy that gets in the way of affective aid – a challenge
- We have heard as agencies the desire of the community to see far more collaboration between us as agencies. It is often the case that we are very good in the field together in collaboration and playing to each other’s strengths and networks. We also need to do that here and we are at least having the dialogue as agencies about collaboration. We are the larger agencies here but there are about 27 agencies that have made response to the disaster – we must work to these strengths and not solely to our usual human condition for completion.
- The slowness of response is a concern and we do what we can but we need to respect the local governments in each place and their sovereignty
- The forgotten emergencies
- Make Poverty History
- There is an extraordinary opportunity here in Australia as we have seen throughout the world the wish to discuss and respond to the effects of extreme poverty. Tonight is evidence of it. There is a momentum as we have seen in the MPH campaign to respond to poverty. We saw the G8 leaders, discuss and act, we saw Live 8 and 26 million SMS message to make poverty history.
- We saw extraordinary compassion, we saw commitment and solidarity from Australians.
- There are newspaper stories now on poverty weekly if not daily. WE are starting to see in Australia conversations in pubs, clubs, websites about the MDGs and poverty.
- WE have a global challenge and here in Australia an opportunity to see what our response to the doubling of aid and timetables by the G8 nations. WE have the UN Millennium summit in about 8 weeks where Australia has the opportunity to talk and demonstrate its action of further addressing extreme poverty. WE can see this year our opportunity to further our reputation of pursuing not only free trade but fairer trade in the WTO. To confront the European trade subsidies, the US trade subsidies to have a sustainable impact on the lives of those living in poverty.
- In the last 10 years I don’t think Australians, our government has had such a great opportunity to extend our compassion, to enter into the moral dilemma that is poverty and to respond wholeheartedly
Beyond the tsunami there is a Big Issue – it is to make poverty history.
And that is The rest of our work that cannot be forgotten and Is now being embraced