Jesuit Missions responds to the Kerala floods
Jesuit Missions has responded to the recent devastating floods in the South Indian state of Kerala, that has left over four hundred people dead and thousands more homeless. They are working with the local Jesuits to provide emergency support to meet the immediate needs of those affected, by distributing food and providing access to temporary shelter for those who have lost their homes, focusing on the worst affected districts of Ernakulam, Alleppey, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad.
Although this has been the worst monsoon rains in over a century, it is predicted that increased rainfall in the monsoon season will become a regular occurrence in Kerala due to the changes in climate. According to Dr Kat Kramer, Christian Aid’s Global lead on Climate change, for every one-degree Celsius increase we can expect more than a ten percent increase in precipitation.
As communities face the increased risk, Jesuit Missions is supporting the recruitment and training of sixty local community leaders in disaster preparedness for their community. They will form a local disaster response team who will have increased access to local weather information, develop local awareness through street plays and ensure a communication system is in place.
Fr George Mutholil, the Provincial of Kerala explained that,
“We want to build the resilience of the disaster affected people of Kerala focused on their survival, recovery and rehabilitation plan for the future.”
Jesuit Missions International Programmes Officer, Shannon Philip says,
“The tragedy of Kerala is just beginning to unfold as people take stock of the loss to life and property in the region. A comprehensive recovery and rehabilitation strategy which puts the participation of the local people at the heart of its response is the right way to move forward at this stage”.
Jesuit Missions are also working with a local Jesuit research initiative to improve early weather warning systems for the fishing communities, which is one of the main local industries, and often most affected by unexpected extreme weather conditions.