BLANTYRE, Malawi—Power outages still plague the Karonga district of Malawi, an area devastated by several December earthquakes that have left at least three dead, more than 80 hospitalized and some 300,000 homeless. Malawi's savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs), or credit unions, and the Malawi Union of Savings & Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO) are taking steps to aid both members and staff affected by the disaster with help from World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
"We have had severe power disruptions, and it is extremely difficult to communicate," said Sylvester Kadzola, MUSCCO's chief executive and a WOCCU director. "We are hearing unpleasant stories that earthquake victims are being asked to pay money if they want to be assisted quickly. It is disheartening that this is happening in the face of such devastation."
The most recent earthquake, which struck Dec. 20, measured 6.0 on the Richter scale according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Karonga district, which straddles the Great Rift Valley fault line, was struck by another earthquake earlier in the month. According to experts, the two seismic events indicate that the fault line may be "realigning" itself and that new fault lines may be forming, making the earthquake-prone region even more unstable.
"Malawi's SACCOs have performed a critical role in serving the country's people and helping stabilize families and communities," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and COO. "We will provide whatever assistance we can to MUSCCO to help them stabilize and rebuild their member institutions."
At least one of MUSCCO's 60 member SACCOs was affected by the earthquake, with more than half of the institution's members left homeless in the disaster. The main office of the SACCO, which serves Karonga district teachers, suffered structural damage that will require extensive repair. The SACCO's branch office some 20 miles closer to the earthquake's epicenter was completely destroyed.
With WOCCU's assistance, MUSCCO will be providing aid directly to the SACCO and its members this weekend. No formal fundraising efforts will be undertaken, but WOCCU is accepting donations at www.woccu.org/give in support of Malawi's rebuilding efforts. The Canadian Co-operative Association will also provide financial support for MUSCCO's efforts, Kadzola said.
"Our plan is to give relief straight to the SACCO members," Kadzola said. The money will be used to provide general relief and meet the needs of SACCO members whose houses were damaged or destroyed," he added.
MUSCCO has been serving Malawi's SACCOs since 1980 and is a member organization of WOCCU. Kadzola has been a member of WOCCU's board of directors since 2001.
El Consejo Mundial de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito es la asociación gremial y agencia de desarrollo para el sistema internacional de cooperativas de ahorro y crédito. El Consejo Mundial promueve el crecimiento sustentable de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y otras cooperativas financieras en todo el mundo a fin de facultar a las personas para que mejoren su calidad de vida a través del acceso a servicios financieros asequibles y de alta calidad. El Consejo Mundial realiza esfuerzos de defensa activa en representación del sistema global de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito ante organizaciones internacionales y trabaja con gobiernos nacionales para mejorar la legislación y la regulación. Sus programas de asistencia técnica introducen nuevas herramientas y tecnologías para fortalecer el desempeño financiero de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y profundizar su alcance comunitario.
El Consejo Mundial ha implementado 290 programas de asistencia técnica en 71 países. A nivel mundial, 57,000 cooperativas de ahorro y crédito en 103 países atienden a 208 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en www.woccu.org.