MADISON, Wis. — Thousands of lives have been lost following the devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake near Nepal's capital Kathmandu on Saturday, April 25th. The nation, one of Asia's poorest countries, impacted 30 out of Nepal's 75 districts including densely populated cities, dispersed rural communities and mountainous areas sparking avalanches in the Himalayas including Mount Everest.
According to government reports, the death toll has climbed to 6,200, and is expected to grow. As aftershocks continue to shake the region, the World Council of Credit Unions is communicating with the Nepal Federation of Savings & Credit Cooperative Unions (NEFSCUN) and Association of Asian Confederation Credit Unions (ACCU) to activate a fundraising campaign that will bring much needed relief to the Nepalese Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs), otherwise known as credit unions, staff and members.
At this time, NEFSCUN has no report on the loss of life among their SACCOS; however, massive damage to financial institutions and member properties is impacting the ability to access services during this critical time. Much-needed cash contributions from the global credit union community will assist NEFSCUN's rehabilitation efforts and benefit member lives.
SANTIAGO, Chile — On Feb. 27, a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Chile. The disaster displaced 1.5 million people and is estimated to have claimed more than 700 lives. Chile's financial cooperatives, with the assistance of the country's largest credit union, COOPEUCH, were able to assist their members with emergency relief despite the fact that many credit unions and their branches were damaged or destroyed. The credit union's charitable foundation, Fundación COOPEUCH, collected funds which will be used to help all credit unions in rebuidling. The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions made a donation of US$25,000 to Fundación COOPEUCH to support their efforts.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The world's eyes were on Haiti on Jan. 12. Follwing the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, more than 200,000 people were killed, an estimated 300,000 were injured and one million were made homeless. Many caisse populaires (credit unions) were completely destroyed. WOCCU's development program in Haiti lost its office headquarters and many staff lost their homes - forcing them and the credit union members to work and live out of tents. WOCCU responded immediately with cash and satellite phones followed by food, water and more than 50 tents to be used as temporary credit union branches and homes.
Thanks to the generous support of credit unions, credit union leagues and associations and individuals around the world, more than US$1 million has been raised for Haiti relief to date. The remaining funds will help cover rebuilding efforts as well as much needed psychological counseling for those affected by the trauma of the disaster.
In response, WOCCU's member association in El Salvador, FEDACACES, formed a solidarity commission. The commission was organized in order to coordinate and monitor the most appropriate, fair and transparent identification of needs and delivery method for the aid received. Almost US$50,000 in aid was distributed to credit union staff, members and their communities as a result of dontations to the Worldwide Foundation.