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 organisation 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 organisation 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.

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 marginalised in all project activities. The communities are partners and all interventions are carried out through their organisations 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 organisations, self-help groups and disaster-mitigation teams.

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 organisations in a new global alliance aimed at eradicating poverty, injustice and the abuse of human rights.

Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Relief

The world’s biggest tsunami disaster hit India along with other South Asian countries on 26 December 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 are: capacity building,education,healthcare, agriculture and 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.