QUITO, Ecuador (BP) — As the death toll climbs in Ecuador after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake April 16, Baptist Global Response is assessing damage and determining the most strategic response.
According to CNN on April 20, the death toll was approaching 500, with 4,000-plus injured.
David and Jo Brown, area directors in the Americas for the BGR humanitarian organization, landed in Quito, Ecuador, earlier this week and began working with local Ecuadorean Baptist partners who had begun evaluating and responding to the situation. Three BGR response teams currently are examining damage, and with support from the Browns, they are determining how to best meet survivors’ physical needs.
“Our goal is identify a number of critical areas that need assistance,” David Brown said.
Patrick Melancon, BGR managing director of disaster response and training, said the teams initially will focus on food, shelter and health concerns. Then they will try to fill in gaps left by other agencies and organizations that are distributing aid.
“A good evidence-based assessment will provide a solid basis for planning both the short-term and longer-term response,” Melancon said. “Likewise, the assessment prevents duplications of efforts by multiple organizations and meets the actual needs of the affected population.”
BGR, he said, can’t rush its assessment phase and dive into a response effort based on conjecture instead of evidence.
“The speed of a response is no indication of the effectiveness of an organization,” he explained.
After completing the assessments, Melancon and the Browns will determine if BGR should mobilize volunteer teams from the United States.
For now, the Browns have approval to spend up to $50,000 in BGR funds for emergency needs. BGR also has posted a link on its website that allows direct giving to the Ecuador earthquake relief effort.
BGR partners in Ecuador also ask people to pray for survivors who are suffering the loss of loved ones and homes, and for those assessing damage. They ask God to give them wisdom and endurance during the weeks ahead.