Emergencies

How we tackle natural disasters, conflict and health crises.

COVID-19 is a public health emergency unlike anything we’ve ever seen. While the impact was global, for children and families living in vulnerable communities around the world, cases continue to rise.

 

Right now, 1.5 billion people are affected by conflict globally, and more than 70.8 million – half of them children – have been forced from their homes due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.

Working with communities to prepare, survive and recover

When a disaster strikes, millions of children – particularly girls – are hit the hardest. In some places, climate change is affecting the frequency and severity of weather-related disasters. In others, drought, food insecurity or conflicts cause prolonged crises.

In all emergencies, we coordinate and partner with community members, other charities, UN agencies and local governments, to make sure we create the best outcomes for those affected. We share our resources, technical expertise, analysis and information across the partnership in real time, improving how we provide aid. We also work before disasters strike to increase government and community knowledge, and their capacity to prepare for, and respond to, disasters.

The combination of our  global presence, our established relationships, and quick and open communication all help us to respond rapidly and effectively when disaster strikes.

Responding to sudden-onset emergencies

In the case of earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and storms, sadly most lives are lost in the first days after a disaster. The quicker we respond, the more lives we can save.

We aim to meet the needs of children and their families as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. We provide nutritious food, clean water, safe places for children to play and relax, and kits that include the essentials like nappies, sanitary pads and soap.

We’re also working in countries prone to disasters throughout Asia and the Pacific, by helping children develop evacuation plans and teaching them about the disasters their villages might experience. This is called ‘disaster risk reduction’, and it’s a proven life-saver.

Slow-onset emergencies

While sudden events will continue to need a quick response, more and more humanitarian crises are emerging over time as a result of a combination of circumstances.

The impacts of drought for example, can worsen and be worsened by existing challenges to food security – including poverty, displacement (people forced to flee their homes), conflict and disruptions in global supply chains and markets.

In these slow-onset emergencies our work includes supporting children’s nutritional and emotional needs, ensuring families have food to eat and giving children – particularly girls – the chance to continue their education.

How girls are affected in emergencies

Climate change, mass displacement, conflict and emergencies pose a huge risk to everyone. But with both their age and gender increasing their risk of harm, girls stand to lose more than most.

For adolescent girls living in some of the world’s most volatile locations, the inequalities they already face are made much worse. Their education is disrupted by displacement, and the likelihood of gender-based violence, abuse, early marriage and early pregnancy increases.

No matter their situation, every girl has the right to go to school, live free from violence and inequality, and to follow her dreams. That’s why, from South Sudan to Lebanon, we’re working with girls and young women to help them continue their education, know their rights, and stay safe. Girls are vibrant, powerful and passionate about improving their situations – for themselves, their families and their communities.

As we’ve seen around the world,young people are some of the loudest campaigners when it comes to ending gender-based violence, advocating for education and climate change activism.

By empowering young people to lead the charge on peace-building, mitigating and adapting to climate change and other crises, we see a generation ready to protect their homes, their communities and the planet.

Deloris returns to school after Cyclone Idai

“I remember when the floods came. I was happy because I had just passed grade three and I had a new school bag. Suddenly, we had to move to a new house and I stopped going to school because there was water everywhere,” says 10 year old Doloris, who witnessed firsthand the devastating floods which hit her community in Mozambique in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in 2019.

Idai, the strongest storm on record to hit southern Africa, swept away homes, roads and bridges in Mozambique, killing more than 650 people and affecting more than 1.8 million. At Doloris’ school the damage was severe and completely halted all school activities. All 3,000 students were forced to stay at home until the water had subsided.

I remember thinking that I could no longer become like my mother who has a paying job. I’m not sure what she does, but she provides for my twin siblings and me. I came to school to be like her, because she also went to school.
  • Doloris, 10, Mozambique.

To help get children like Doloris get back into school as quickly as possible, Plan International started working with authorities and communities to rebuild schools that were wrecked by the cyclones and floods. We initially provided tarpaulins to create temporary classrooms and then started work on rebuilding the formal classrooms following the Build Back Better approach, guidelines created by UN Habitat which aim to ensure that buildings are disaster resilient. Now, the school is now fully functional and has welcomed all its students back to class.

“Now that I am at school again, I feel happy and relieved, because there is no water and I can see my friends. When I have a question, I ask my teacher for the answer so I can learn quickly and be like my mother in a few years,” says Doloris, adding. “I don’t know what I would do without school.”

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