Emergency Response

Emergency Response

Living in the developing world is often a daily struggle for survival. That struggle becomes all but impossible when a disaster strikes. Floods, earthquakes, war or conflicts can destroy a life and all assets in the blink of an eye. It’s a life on the edge.

Consider this: In times of crisis, and the aftermath that follows, women, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. For example, significantly more women than men are injured or killed during hurricanes and floods. And when food becomes scarce, women and girls are the last to eat, as often their nutritional needs are viewed as less important than those of men and boys.  

By 2020, CARE and partners will provide 20 million people affected by humanitarian crises receive quality, life-saving humanitarian assistance. 

Read our CARE 2020 programme strategy summary on Emergency Response here.

Working side by side with affected people

CARE is amongst the first to arrive and the last to leave during a humanitarian crisis. We are responding to today’s emergencies and helping people prepare for tomorrow’s.

We help people respond, prepare, and recover from disasters. During a disaster, we coordinate with other aid agencies, governments and local organisations to meet the many immediate needs of affected people, particularly women and girls. While each emergency response is tailored to the needs of each situation, we focus on four humanitarian core sectors: we ensure that people have enough to eat, a roof over their head, clean water and adequate hygiene supplies, and receive assistance for their sexual and reproductive health.  

But instead of simply distributing goods or providing services, we include women and men in our emergency response. They work side by side with us as volunteers, supporting distributions of relief items, promoting awareness on hygiene practices or encouraging their communities to join hands and rebuild their livelihoods.

We also work with communities to help them prepare for future crises. Together we assess risks, analyse shifting weather patterns and put evacuation plans in place. Preparedness is key: it reduces risks and mitigates the magnitude of a disasters impact. 

It is a long road to recovery after a disaster hits. Our work is done when livelihoods are rebuilt and communities are prepared for future crises.

Want to know more how CARE works in emergencies? Read our humanitarian action fact sheet.


Gender Equality and Emergencies

When disaster strikes, women and girls often suffer most. On average, more women die during and shortly after disasters than men because women are more likely to rescue their children over themselves and are less likely to know how to swim and climb. Women are left without shelter and food, go without special medical care or defence against dangers like human trafficking. Pregnant women often face dangerous deliveries when clinics are wiped out by storms. In unprotected refugee settlements, girls may be at risk of harassment or rape. After crisis destroys a family’s livelihood, domestic violence can increase dramatically. In the aftermath of disasters, women typically have less cash savings, lower levels of education and smaller social networks to draw upon than men.

In humanitarian crises, CARE analyses the different needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls, men and boys, to determine how best to respond. We make sure that women and girls get equal distribution of food and emergency supplies and can build a home again. We raise awareness about violence against women and provide maternal health services to teach mothers skills they need to rebuild their family’s lives. We create community spaces where women can meet to discuss issues and work to ensure that relief efforts take women’s needs into account. As communities start to build their resilience, CARE ensures women and girls do not lose out and instead, can fulfil their potential.

Hunger in Emergencies

Hunger and malnutrition are often caused by natural disasters and conflict. Drought can destroy crops, causing food prices to skyrocket, or violent conflict may force people to flee their homes, farms and livelihoods. In 2011, people across the Horn of Africa endured a severe food crisis, more than a quarter of a million people died in the famine in Somalia. CARE was there to help, providing lifesaving food, nutrition, and medical care for malnourished people. We are still there to build communities’ resilience to mitigate and cope with future emergencies. This includes promoting environmental sustainability and empowering people economically so that they are better prepared for difficult times.

Disaster Risk Reduction

CARE is working with communities to help them prepare and plan for emergencies in the future. For example, in Vanuatu, CARE is helping communities develop evacuation plans in case a tsunami or cyclone strikes. We work to build resilience against climate change. We do so by teaching adaptive farming methods and growing drought-resistant crops. We are helping build homes in safer places, with access to sustainable livelihoods, health and social services. This helps ensure communities are equipped to both respond to and survive emergencies.

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