Rebuilding Lives After Disaster Strikes

Giving By Emily Larson August 15, 2017

This past spring, deadly mudslides tore through Mocoa, Colombia, killing and injuring more than 650 people and devastating the area. In response, the Western Union Foundation provided financial support to Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian aid agency which swung into action to assist in the recovery effort. In this guest blog, Britt Rosenberg, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Mercy Corps, describes their work:


Early in the morning on April 1, heavy rains triggered flash flooding and mudslides in the city of Mocoa. Located in the Andes, the area is frequently affected by natural disasters, but this was much worse than anything experienced before. In fact, it is considered to be the third-worst weather-related disaster in the history of the country. 329 people were killed, 332 were injured and local communities report that an additional 70 people remain missing. Water, electricity and communications were all affected, and hundreds more people were forced to move out of the immediate area.

With support from the Western Union Foundation, Mercy Corps worked to provide emergency relief to those affected by this catastrophe. In the immediate aftermath, we delivered water purification sachets totaling 192,000 liters of clean drinking water to the population, along with filtration screens and plastic containers for 500 families. Now we are in the process of delivering another round of water purification sachets to help families for the next three months.

Mercy Corps also coordinated with the Ministry of Education, the Presidency of Colombia and other NGOs to support young people impacted by this disaster. Together we delivered more than 14,400 school supply kits, reaching all of the children of Mocoa. The Fray Placido School (pictured) is one of the places Mercy Corps is focusing our efforts. Over the coming months, we will continue working with teachers and parents to address the long-term emotional needs of the children affected by the mudslides. Mercy Corps also partnered with a local women’s organization to deliver 240 hygiene kits to adolescent girls participating in reproductive health and gender-based violence prevention activities to help ensure their health and safety now and for years to come.

Both photos: Mercy Corps Colombia


Mercy Corps will continue to address the urgent needs faced by the people of Mocoa – for water, for education and to help the children heal emotionally. Through our partnership with the Western Union Foundation, we are working to help #ReconstruirMocoa (Rebuild Mocoa) from within, now and for the future.


If you would like to support similar efforts around the world, please make a donation to help the Western Union Foundation continue our work.