Dealing with disasters

When disasters strike, who hurts the most?

Of all the people killed by disasters around the world, 69.9 per cent of them are living in poor countries. If you’re poor, disasters can destroy the little that people have, making a hard life even harder. Without the usual safety nets of savings or insurance, people can be left with nothing, having to rebuild their lives from scratch.

Tearfund have over forty years' experience of responding to the emergency of disasters: floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and the misery caused by slow-onset disasters such as food crises or conflict.

We operate in a range of ways to prevent and respond to the suffering that a major disaster can cause, doing everything we can to make sure the people most vulnerable to disasters will be impacted as little as possible..



We respond to disasters when they happen

  • We implement Tearfund disaster response teams and respond directly in situations of overwhelming need, where there are no local partners, or where the scale of the emergency is too great for our partners’ capacity. We currently have Tearfund operational disaster response programmes in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Iraq.

  • We respond through our partners, particularly in smaller-scale disasters that may not hit the headlines, where their expertise and local knowledge is invaluable in identifying the greatest needs, to work with communities to help provide immediate aid in food, shelter and basic life essentials.
  • We support local Christians and churches on the ground, who are mindful of reaching out to people where the need is greatest, and are conscious of the pastoral support communities need following a disaster.


We help communities with long-term disaster recovery

We work through local partners and churches who know their communities and stay there to provide longer-term facilities for recovery such as safe places for children to play and learn, training, and cash-for-work schemes, helping to re-establish livelihoods.

1.4 million
people benefited from our response work in 2015-16

£28.2m
was spent on helping people prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters during 2015-16 

50%+
of people impacted by natural hazards live in fragile or conflict-affected states

12 million
number of people receiving assistance during disasters thanks to Tearfund

9 out of 10
of the countries most affected by disaster are low or middle income nations

87.6 million
the number of people the UN identified as requiring life-saving humanitarian assistance across 37 countries in 2016

We equip communities to prepare for disasters before they strike

In the most vulnerable places around the world, we help people work together to develop a plan, recognise early warning signs, and know what to do when the worst happens. Being prepared saves lives, homes, property, and helps people to feel less vulnerable. It also lessens the impact of the next disaster when it comes, reducing casualties and keeping people safe. We also work to build back better where possible following disasters. 

Whether it’s cyclone-proof shelters in Bangladesh, encouraging planting to resist soil erosion during flooding in Ethiopia, or working with churches in Haiti to develop plans for the next disaster, we tie our recovery work in with planning for the future wherever we can. That way, when recurring disasters hit again, their impact is reduced, lives are saved, and recovery is faster.



We're recognised for our expertise in disaster response

We’re signatories of the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief. The code includes principles such as impartiality, accountability, participation, dignity, building capacity and reducing vulnerability, which are reflected in Tearfund’s Quality Standards. We’re operate within a global network of partners and have had direct operational experience since 1994. We’re certified with the Core Humanitarian Standard, and are members of the Disasters Emergency Committee, as well as being funding recipients for ECHO, OFDA, START Network, and the Integral Alliance amongst others.




Focus on iraq: Amina’s Story

Amina* and her family were forced to flee their home in Hawija when ISIS took over. ‘Our life in Hawija was good, we had everything we needed - cars, a house… life was normal’, says Amina, ‘but my husband suffered from a kidney problem that he needed regular medication for and when ISIS came we couldn’t find it anymore.’ In light of the harsh conditions brought about by ISIS and the struggle to find medicine, the family made the decision to leave their home. However her husband had become very sick and before they left, he died.

Now Amina and six other members of her family are living in one room of an unfinished house in Kirkuk City, Iraq. They have used savings and taken out loans to meet their basic needs.

Tearfund have been able to support the family by providing an emergency sealing off kit to help them to fix the building, and a household water tank for access to safe water. Amina is appreciative of the assistance, ‘Our happiest days were before ISIS came, but at least now we are safe and comfortable.’

Since the start of the current crisis in 2014, Tearfund has supported over 165,000 people in Iraq who have been impacted by the conflict in numerous ways. This support includes providing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services, providing blankets, heaters and cooking utensils, as well as cash grants and psychosocial support.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

As the climate changes and weather patterns become more extreme and erratic, natural disasters are happening more often and with greater impact. Tearfund want to respond to disasters wherever they strike, but we need to be ready. Please help us to have the resources we need to act quickly. Give to our disasters fund and help support those who, when the worst happens, desperately need your help.

Please give to our work