On January 23, a leading daily reported
that Lutheran World Service India Trust (LWSIT), an NGO that fights for the
rights of the under-privileged, will kick-start a mission to stop water wastage
in Kolkata.

Earlier, around January 17, the same organization along with United Evangelical
Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) made an appeal for relief assistance (food
aid, basic non-food relief items) and repair of huts of the victims of heavy
rains and subsequent flooding and landslides that happened in Tamil Nadu and
Puducherry in November last year.

Lutheran World Service India (LWSI) is generally always in news for its works
in the humanitarian domain. It is an international non-government organization
and is the country programme of the Lutheran World Federation/Department for
World Service, Geneva, Switzerland, which acts on behalf of the communion of
Lutheran churches worldwide.

Objective
The main objective of LWSI is to empower
women and men of disadvantaged communities to enhance their quality of life by
cultivating self-reliance. LWSI has been implementing disaster response,
disaster preparedness and integrated development projects for more than three
decades. It is currently working in the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Assam
and Tamil Nadu. Assistance is rendered to those in need irrespective of race,
creed, nationality, sex, religion, or political conviction.

LWSI emphasises the
active and direct participation of the most marginalized in all project
activities. The communities are partners and all interventions are carried out
through their organizations and groups. At the end of 2006, LWSI was working in
partnership with 2,705 communities, covering a population of approximately
774,301. It was supporting an estimated 5,504 community-based organizations,
self-help groups and disaster-mitigation teams.

Background
The LWSI programme was started in 1974 in
response to refugee needs after the Bangladesh war of independence. With
financial support from partners and the encouragement of the UELCI, the
programme expanded to many parts of West Bengal and Orissa in the eastern
region.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is a founding member of Action by
Churches Together (ACT) International, a global alliance of churches and
related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies.
ACT (Development) brings together churches and related organizations in a new
global alliance aimed at eradicating poverty, injustice and the abuse of human
rights.

PROJECTS

Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Relief
The world’s
biggest tsunami disaster hit India along with other South Asian countries on
December 26, 2004. In the aftermath of this disaster, LWSI took up relief and
rehabilitation in 18 villages of Cuddalore, Villupuram and Nagapattinam
districts of Tamil Nadu as well as in five villages of Puducherry, to assist
tsunami survivors meet their immediate needs and return to normal life. From
providing non-food relief kits to fishermen’s livelihood kits, to constructing
houses as well as providing psychological support, LWSI engaged in almost every
rehabilitation activity.

Assam Riot Victims Rehabilitation and Development
Project

Many families were displaced during the ethnic violence of 1996 and
1998 in Assam. This project, started in March 2004 at Kokrajhar district of
Assam, focuses on the resettlement of the families, as many of them are still
living in refugee camps. For several years they have known only fear,
instability, violence and uncertainty. Therefore, LWSI aims at ensuring stable,
sustainable and secure lives and livelihoods for these communities.

India
Floods

Over 1,800 people lost their lives in the 2007 floods in India and
more than 30 million people were affected by flooding in the states of Assam,
Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Tens of thousands of people were
forced to leave their homes and take shelter in temporary camps and on higher
ground.

More than 25 million people were affected in the states of Orissa, West
Bengal, Bihar and Assam. Normalcy was disrupted and day-to-day activity of the
flood-affected people during the busy agriculture season came to a standstill.
All other livelihood activities also ceased.

LWSI is working in three states:
Orissa – Balasore district (relief and rehabilitation); West Bengal – West
Midnapore district (relief and rehabilitation); and Bihar – East Champaran
district (relief assistance).

Disaster Preparedness Project Coastal Orissa
This project was launched after the Orissa Super Cyclone of 1999. It is
currently operational in Kendrapara, Jajpur and Ganjam districts of coastal
Orissa. The project is an example of Linking Relief Rehabilitation with
Development, or LRRD.

Coastal Tamil Nadu

Post-tsunami impact assessment revealed that some non-fishing and Dalit
communities were equally affected but deprived of support. LWSI initiated a
community-based disaster preparedness and livelihood support project in 50 such
communities.

Development Projects
LWSI Integrated Development Projects are implemented in both rural and urban
areas. The programme has over the years built up expertise in a number of
sectors that are normally part of the local development needs. The five main
sectors arecapacity building,education,healthcare,agricultureand income
generation.

Rural Development Project
LWSI works with the landless and vulnerable communities living at subsistence
level.

Urban Development Project
LWSI works with dwellers of slums and squatter settlements, consisting of
refugees from neighbouring countries and migrants from rural areas.