By Bob Allen
An Australian Baptist organization long committed to disaster relief and recovery is shifting focus to prepare communities for the impact of disasters before they happen.
Baptist World Aid Australia announced a “Disaster Plus” campaign March 25 to raise funds over the next year to support and train vulnerable communities to prepare for potential disasters.
“While our response to disasters over the past decades has largely been committed to relief and recovery efforts, we have resolved that God would have us do whatever we can to be far more proactive and to prepare communities before disaster strikes,” said John Hickey, CEO of Baptist World Aid Australia.
He said the shift in focus is a matter of stewardship. The World Bank estimates that an investment of $1 spent preparing vulnerable communities to cope when natural disaster strikes saves around $7 in costs of emergency response.
“Investing the right money into disaster preparedness now saves huge dollars later,” Hickey said. “Not only that, but the cost in human lives is greatly reduced.”
Hickey said Baptist World Aid Australia will continue to respond when disaster strikes with immediate rescue, food, shelter and clothing. Last year the ministry worked in countries including Bangladesh, Kenya, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Its largest response was to the Horn of Africa famine, which was taking the lives of hundreds of children and adults each day, and one of the worst seen in decades.