On August 15, 2007, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Peru, destroying homes and structures for thousands, from the coastline to the mountains. At least 95,000 homes were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. CHF was one of the first organizations to reach out to isolated communities that had not otherwise received any assistance. Arriving in San José de Los Molinos and Parcona just days after the quake, CHF’s Emergency Response Team quickly found those communities who had yet to receive emergency assistance, including those of Afro-Peruvian and indigenous descent, as well as the elderly, children, and women-headed households. Building on CHF’s belief in providing immediate relief in a way that lays a foundation for long-term recovery, CHF’s rapid response focused on:
Accelerating the transition from relief to development: Moving beyond immediate relief, we focused our response on building basic infrastructure (such as shelters, classrooms, and toilet facilities) and restoring livelihoods (through micro-grants and employment) in order to give people the resources they needed to get back on their feet as soon as possible.
Engaging communities in the relief efforts: CHF’s inclusive approach to development means that we directly engage affected communities in relief and recovery efforts. By giving them a hands-on role, CHF ensures that solutions are locally appropriate and that the sense of despair and hopelessness that so often follows natural disasters is mitigated. In Peru, this meant hiring local villagers to quickly begin clearing rubble so that emergency shelters could be built, and involving local craftsmen in designing shelters that would best utilize available materials and indigenous practices.
CHF’s response in Peru was made possible through support from our donors, the American International Group (AIG) Disaster Relief Fund, Johnson & Johnson, and scores of individual supporters. With this support, CHF constructed 700 shelters, 135 latrines, 17 classrooms, and issued 324 microgrants to assist families in rebuilding their communities and serving more than 10,000 people whose lives had been devastated by the earthquake.