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Malawi CUs recovering after earthquake
BLANTYRE, Malawi (1/8/10)--Credit unions in the Karonga district of Malawi are recovering from December earthquakes that have killed three, hospitalized more than 80 and left 300,000 homeless. The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO) are helping affected members and staff of the credit unions there. With WOCCU's assistance, MUSCCO will provide aid directly to the credit unions--savings and credit cooperatives, or SACCOS--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 (Use the resource link to access the site). The Canadian Co-operative Association also will provide financial support for MUSCCO's efforts, said Sylvester Kadzola, MUSCCO chief executive and a WOCCU director.
Click to view larger image A Malawi credit union member examines the rubble of his newly built home hit by a recent earthquake.
Click to view larger image Malawi's December earthquakes left more than 300,000 homeless. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“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. Malawi’s SACCOs have performed a critical role in serving the country’s people and helping stabilize families and communities, according to Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. At least one of MUSCCO's 60 member SACCOs was affected by the earthquake, with more than half of the institution's members were left homeless because of 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. “We have had severe power disruptions, and it is extremely difficult to communicate," said Kadzola. “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, on the Great Rift Valley fault line, was struck by another earthquake earlier in the month. 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, experts said. 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.
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