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Three Kennedy School students from countries deeply affected by December’s tsunami disaster shared their personal stories and discussed future recovery and reconstruction efforts at the Kennedy School Forum tonight.
First-hand accounts of efforts from Kennedy School alumni in tsunami relief operations can be found on the Alumni Programs website. Stories of Kennedy School students working to assist tsunami victims may be accessed on the web also.
International relief efforts began within hours of the tsunami and continue today in all of the affected countries. Douglas Broderick SMG 04, who serves as Country Director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Beijing, says the WFP worked quickly to mobilize its resources.
“WFP has shown its extraordinary ability to feed thousands of hungry mouths in a very short amount of time,” Broderick said. “Within two weeks of the disaster, almost 900,000 people had been provided a fortnightly to monthly ration in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Somalia. Staff have been working around the clock to manage WFP's Emergency Operation, scaling from food procurement, to the logistics of transport and delivery. It is expected that we will be feeding two million mouths over the next six months.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) also moved quickly to assist victims. Assistant Director-General Jack C. Chow MPA 96 feared the spread of disease. “Upon learning of the tsunami and the resulting devastation, I mobilized our Geneva-based WHO experts for medical assistance and policy advice in preventing the spread of malaria and mosquito-borne illnesses, helped restore TB and HIV/AIDS services, and contributed to rebuilding destroyed health services in the stricken zones,” he explained.
Hikaru Kozuki MPA-ID 01, an associate budget officer with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has been assisting with budget planning for tsunami operations. “UNHCR joined the rest of the UN family in a massive, coordinated response aimed at helping millions of people rebuild their shattered lives,” he said. “UNHCR launched a six-month, $75 million emergency relief operation for tsunami victims in the Indonesian province of Aceh, in Sri Lanka and in Somalia. Its humanitarian assistance focuses on providing shelter, non-food relief supplies and logistical support.
Closer to home efforts have been no less dynamic. Save the Children, a Connecticut-based non-profit child assistance agency, sprang into action with a massive fundraising campaign. Tertia De Vos Trowbridge MPP 02 is involved in that effort.
“A number of people walked in off the street to our offices with donations including young children holding the $10 their grandparents gave them for the holidays who wanted to help the children affected by the tsunami,” she said. “We finally had to post some people in the lobby because the receptionist could not answer the phones and greet all of the people.”
Brian E. Tucker MPA 91, president of GeoHazards International, says his company has been working closely with its partner organization SEEDS (The Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) in India to help run relief camps on some nearby islands.
“Working from Port Blair, SEEDS joined local authorities to coordinate relief efforts for the population. They also managed and operated relief shelters in Port Blair for people evacuated from all of the islands. They provided tents, infrastructure and relief supplies as needed. As I write this (Jan. 10), SEEDS is transitioning to the recovery phase and reports that, 'it will take sustained support for months, perhaps years to rebuild houses, schools, community facilities, infrastructure and livelihoods.'”