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How does Tearfund respond to disasters and crises?

Tearfund integrates resilience and risk reduction activities into both our relief and our development work. If an emergency does happen, we seek to ‘build back better’ during the time of recovery. As well as addressing physical and practical needs, we also focus on restoring relationships, supporting recovery from psychological trauma, and long-term wellbeing.  

We coordinate with other aid organisations to ensure effective and transparent use of resources, as well as adhering to international standards and protocol.

Our impact in 2020/21

Preparing for disasters and crises

Being prepared saves lives and livelihoods. That’s why Tearfund works with local organisations and churches in at-risk communities – to help them understand and reduce the risks they face, and develop plans to respond to any anticipated crises or disasters.

Preparedness involves forward-looking activities that can increase people’s ability to assess, predict, prepare for, respond to and recover from the effects of a disaster or crisis.

Responding to disasters and crises

Tearfund and our local partners respond to disasters of every size – from small-scale emergencies that can devastate a few households, (such as local floods and landslides), to large-scale crises that affect millions (such as the ongoing crisis caused by the conflict in Yemen).

People understand the needs of the people in their own communities best. People living in the community are also the first responders to any new emergency. That’s why we aim to build up local organisations and churches, and support locally-led responses to disasters.

Disasters and conflict

Whenever conflict breaks out, it hits the poorest hardest. People who are already struggling to meet their basic needs are often pushed into chronic humanitarian need.

The impacts of other disasters, such as floods, droughts and earthquakes, can also create conflict as people compete to gain access to the resources they need to recover.

Disasters and emergencies can also harm the environment. For example, overdemand for resources, such as water from a lake in a drought-affected area, can damage the environment irreversibly.

Our approach to disasters in settings where there is conflict is to:

  • respond to the immediate needs created by the emergency
  • support affected populations to recover their livelihoods, basic needs and emotional wellbeing, and increase their resilience to future shocks and stresses
  • address the root causes of conflict through peacebuilding, breaking cycles of trauma and violence, and equipping local people in conflict resolution
  • address harmful structures of governance that increase tensions and fuel conflict, and focus on the development of effective community leadership

Recovering and learning from disasters and crises

When responding to an emergency, it is important to get the foundations right. Whatever we do must be sustainable, accountable, and build the community’s ability to respond to future shocks and stresses.

‘Build back better’ is often associated with ensuring earthquake building regulations are adhered to, or a school is reconstructed with better access to toilets. However, ‘build back better’ goes far deeper. 

We ask ourselves: ‘How can we better support the most marginalised and excluded?’, or ‘How do we ensure women and girls are protected, and have access to education and support to earn an income?’

These questions ensure that, should another crisis or disaster hit, we have put things in place to protect those who would be the most affected.

Case study

Our disasters and crises work: in-depth

You can find out more about why and how we focus on each of these key areas on our partner website, Tearfund Learn. Tearfund Learn provides free access to our research and resources from over 50 years of experience in international development.

Read more on Tearfund Learn

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