World’s credit unions urged to support sector in flood-hit Brazil

‘We are going through a great tragedy. We count on the strength of cooperation and the global movement to help us come out of this’

After heavy rains prompted catastrophic flooding in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, displacing half a million people and killing 147, a global appeal has been launched to support the affected credit unions.

The Brazilian Flood Relief Fund was launched by the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions (WFCU), in partnership with World Council of Credit Unions (Woccu), to help affected credit union workers and the communities they support.

Rescue workers are still looking for missing people as water levels continue to rise, with the Taquari and Caí rivers bursting their banks. This threatens to worsen already severe flooding in state capital, Porto Alegre, where large areas, including the city centre, are under water

Sicredi – a direct memeber of Woccu and the largest credit union system in Brazil – has a network of 104 credit unions in the country, 38 of which operate in Rio Grande do Sul. At least half of those institutions have branches that suffered some level of damage, and Sicredi estimates roughly 500 of their employees have been personally impacted.

Responding to Sicredi’s request to support its immediate relief efforts in the region through its Project Storm Break Initiative, WFCU has allocated US$15,000 to help meet the emergency needs of the credit union employees and the communities they serve. The money will go toward the purchase and distribution of non-perishable food, potable water, personal hygiene kits, blankets, mattresses and pillows, and clothes for children and adults.

“We are going through a great tragedy,” said Manfred Dasenbrock, president of Central Sicredi PR/SP/RJ and Woccu board member. “We count on the strength of cooperation and the global movement to help us come out of this stronger.

“We are now focusing on the emergency needs of the communities we are serving in Rio Grande do Sul. With this scale of destruction, we also realise that the recovery and rebuilding process will take a lot of time and resources. Support from the global credit union movement and Brazilian expats around the globe can play a crucial role in the post-crisis recovery of our credit unions.”

Woccu is also working with its two associate member credit union organisations in Brazil – SICOOB and Cresol Confederation – to learn about their urgent and mid-term needs.

“This is why Project Storm Break was created,” added Manfred Dasenbrock. “To respond both immediately and cooperatively to credit union crises worldwide. WFCU is honoured to coordinate a global response to meet the needs of communities throughout Rio Grande do Sul.”

Woccu and WFCU are asking the global credit union community to join this effort and make a donation to help colleagues and friends in Brazil.

Donations to the Brazilian Flood Relief Fund are now being accepted here.

Main picture: The flood-hit city of Porto Alegre (image: Ricardo Stuckert / PR / Flickr CC)