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Honduras: CASM

As part of our monthly focus, we take a look at work by our partners in the countries featured in this year's Christian Aid Week materials.

Here, with the annual Atlantic hurricane season approaching, we look at how one partner organisation is helping communities prepare in Honduras.

Ever since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, CASM (the Mennonite Social Action Commission) has been at the forefront of emergency response work.

But in a country like Honduras, which is regularly battered by gale-force winds and heavy downpours, storms and floods should never be a surprise. They are regular, annual dangers.

Communities here are hit time and time again, and the UN climate change panel has warned that it is only going to get worse.

CASM – bridging the gap

CASM works to help vulnerable communities prepare to face the storms, so that homes, lives and livelihoods can be saved.

As Audelia explains in the film (above), CASM has helped her riverside village to set up a local emergency committee and build a suspension bridge. Now the village is no longer cut off by storms and floods.

CASM has also trained Audelia and her neighbours in river monitoring, and helped them set up an early warning system, so that when disaster strikes people can evacuate their homes in plenty of time.

At the moment, worldwide, 90% of disaster-related spending goes on relief and reconstruction, but every £1 spent on disaster risk reduction work like this can save £4 in disaster response costs.

Getting together

CASM is a fairly new partner for Christian Aid. We started working with them in 2005, as part of a multi-national, multi-million pound project funded by the British government’s Department for International Development.

The project, which ran for three years in Honduras, was called Building Disaster Resilient Communities. CASM was one of 17 organisations in Honduras that took part.

Christian Aid staff in Honduras were so impressed with the quality of CASM’s work that we decided to continue funding it even after the original project ended.

In 2009/10 we are planning to send CASM £40,000 to continue its disaster risk reduction work.

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