CRS Continues Emergency Response in Brazil

Catholic Relief Services
Thursday, 4 March 2004

Nearly a month after the worst rains in half a century pounded Brazil, more than 100,000 people remain homeless, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) reported today. Widespread flooding throughout the Northeast has destroyed homes and infrastructure and left farmers with drowned crops and livestock. CRS raised the alarm about the flooding in early February and has allocated more than $500,000 to assist those worst affected by the rains.

"This disaster seems to have escaped the world's attention," said Peter Rothrock, CRS Country Representative for Brazil, "but the damage has been substantial and will not go away when the waters recede. We are doing short-term emergency relief right now, but we will be moving to longer-term rehabilitation in the coming weeks to help people return their lives to normal."

The first phase of the response will reach 35,000 people—mostly small-scale farmers and other rural inhabitants—and will provide basic necessities like food, water, blankets, mattresses and materials for shelter and latrines. Later activities will focus on rehabilitating dams, wells and irrigation systems, as well as providing nearly $200,000 to farmers for seeds, tools, fertilizers and small livestock.

The fifth largest country in the world, Brazil has a population of 180 million people. Approximately 24 million Brazilians live in extreme poverty (less than $1 a day) and—according to the Brazilian bishops—55 million go hungry.

CRS has worked in Brazil since 1993, with a primary focus on the Northeast, the poorest and least developed region of the country. Programming includes responding to basic water needs, HIV/AIDS, agrarian reform and human rights.

For more information, or to contact Catholic Relief Services, see their website at: www.catholicrelief.org

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