YUCAY, Peru -- In the waning days of 2010, residents filled the streets of this tiny Andean town, showering a statue of Our Lady of the Nativity with flower petals and dancing in native costumes to usher in the new year.
But the dancers, many of whom were Quechua-speaking farmers, looked ahead with trepidation. Some worried that rainfall resembled last year's weather, when February floods triggered landslides, washed out roads and bridges, and destroyed crops. Some people who lost harvests last year could not afford to plant this year.
After the disaster, the Catholic Church stepped in with emergency aid and long-term development assistance. Church agencies did the same in other countries in the region: from Haiti, where an earthquake in January 2010 killed as many as 300,000 people and left nearly 2 million homeless, to Colombia, where recent floods overwhelmed five towns, killing 300 people and affecting another 2.2 million.