Co-operatives UK has launched an emergency appeal, with support from the Co-op Group, for funds to help the development of co-operatives in countries devastated by hurricanes and flooding in recent weeks.
The last month has seen devastating floods in south-east Asia followed by hurricanes across the Caribbean. With livelihoods, buildings and in some cases whole areas destroyed, action needs to be taken for both short term relief and long-term reconstruction.
Charities like the International Red Cross have stepped in to take immediate action and provide vital food, shelter and care. But reconstruction in what are already poor countries, like Cuba and Bangladesh, will take a long time. Once the initial surge of aid drops away there will remain a dire need to rebuild housing, hospitals and economies.
"The hurricanes and floods in the Caribbean and south-east Asia have been truly devastating, with millions of lives affected. Immediate aid will hopefully help in the short-term but lives will need rebuilding for the long term also. This is where the co‑op sector can assist by providing the support needed to create effective and sustainable Co-ops in those areas most heavily impacted and help re-build these devastated communities." Steve Murrells, Co-op Group
Co-operatives can play a key role in this economic development, as we have seen over the last two decades when reconstruction has been needed. When the media cameras leave and emergency relief dries up, it is local organisations like co-operatives and credit unions that are sustainable ways to meet people's needs. Co-ops can support new infrastructure, homes and livelihoods, as this film on building co-op housing following a devestating earthquake in Haiti demonstates:
Support long-term co-operative reconstruction
Co-operatives UK is now calling on UK co-ops to give donations that will be distributed to on-the-ground co-operatives through the International Co-operative Alliance, to support long-term co-operative development in the most affected and in-need countries.
Acting in line with the sixth co-operative principle - co-operation amongst co-operatives - this initiative was prompted by Southern Co-op and supported by Co-op Group, which has already pledged £50,000 to kick-start the appeal.
"The floods and storms are devastating the lives of millions of people. We know that co-ops offer a vital tool for people to rebuild their homes and livelihoods together. We are encouraging UK co-ops to donate what they can to this emergency appeal to support the development of co-operatives that will aid long-term sustainable reconstruction. This is people to people support." Ed Mayo, Co‑operatives UK
How to donate
Notify Co-operatives UK of your intention to donate to the Emergency Fund by emailing [email protected], indicating:
- The amount your co-op would like to donate
- Whether there is a preference to contribute to development in south-east Asia or the Caribbean
"The board of directors and all colleagues at Southern Co-op have been unsettled to hear of the loss and suffering as a result of the recent natural disasters impacting the Caribbean, Mexico and south-east Asia. We hope to join together with other co‑operatives to assist with the recovery and reconstruction of communities after these dreadful events." Silena Dominy, Southern Co-op
Note: Donations for immediate relief are still being sought by aid charities and contributions to the International Red Cross are encouraged. If your co-op or members raise funds for immediate relief through charities, we would appreciate you letting Co-operatives UK know so that we can track the response of the UK co-operative sector as a whole.