Disaster Relief & Emergency Response

Concern has disaster response in its DNA — our values were forged in the fires and famine of the Biafran War 50 years ago, and today that stills holds true. Whether it’s an earthquake, a typhoon, floods, drought, or conflict, we’ve seen it all and we’re ready and able to deliver assistance. Here’s what we do.

  • Focus on the most vulnerable
  • Do whatever it takes
  • Stay on
  • Help build resilience and capacity

We Focus Disaster Relief on the Most Vulnerable

Whether it’s a natural disaster or a war, our emergency response teams will always go wherever the need is the greatest. This often means focusing on remote and difficult places where few others are willing to work — but reaching the most vulnerable and overlooked always has top priority.

Regine Kopplow of Concern Worldwide helps villagers at a distribution of emergency shelter

Delivering relief supplies to the remote village of Bhirkot in Nepal, following the 2015 earthquake. Photo: Kieran McConville

When the 2015 earthquake devastated Nepal, we sent teams far into the mountains to reach communities who had received little or no help. The logistics were complicated and the terrain was difficult — severe aftershocks triggered landslides and blocked roads — but the goal was clear. We were needed and we were there.

When famine struck  South Sudan in 2017, it was the most isolated families who suffered most. Displaced and terrified, thousands fled to take shelter on tiny islands in the swamps of Unity State. There they were relatively safe from the conflict that drove them from their homes, but terribly vulnerable to hunger. Working closely with local partners, our teams traveled by helicopter, canoe, and on foot to bring assistance.

We Do Whatever It Takes

Concern customizes each and every response based on the needs of the communities we serve. Before we take any action in emergency operations or disaster situations, we listen closely to those affected to understand their concerns to ensure our actions are culturally appropriate and guided by local priorities. This means that our emergency response programs can vary greatly, from treating malnourished children in Somalia to water-trucking for drought-stricken communities in Ethiopa.

Water being delivered to a community in Northern Ethiopia where rain had not fallen in any appreciable quantity for 3 years.

Water being delivered to a community in Northern Ethiopia where rain had not fallen in any appreciable quantity for 3 years.

We always work in partnership with others — coordinating with community organizations, local authorities, and other aid agencies makes absolute sense when it comes to getting the job done. Forging strong working relationships makes every response more effective and more efficient, and we’ve been doing it for years.

We stay on, to help rebuild and recover

We firmly believe our work does not end when the initial emergency is over and the news cameras and first responders have pulled out. Leveraging the relationships we have built with communities, we work in partnership with them to heal, rebuild, and recover.

When Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the remote islands of the northern Philippines, many lives were lost. But so too were many livelihoods — the huge storm surge had wiped out most of the local the fishing fleet. We sat down with communities and came up with a plan, which resulted in the Concern boatyard… and a path to recovery for thousands.

Gildreth and Artem Abancio with their new boat in the Philippines

Gildreth and Artem Abancio from Conception, Philippines with their new fishing boat, built by Concern. Photo: Steve De Neef

Concern’s innovative Child Survival programs grew from serving 21,000 people in targeted communities in Bangladesh in 1998 to impacting the lives of more than 3 million people across Bangladesh, Burundi, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Our response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti embodied the best of Concern, as we stayed with communities through recovery and rebuilding. With partners, we pioneered the Return To Neighborhoods program that helped thousands move from camps into safe, secure housing. We also worked with partners to help transform the community of Grand Ravine, home to some 20,000 people, building critical infrastructure, providing cash-for-work and livelihoods training, and working to build peace and community ownership.

We help Build Capacity and resilience

If it happens once, there’s a good chance it will happen again — especially in countries and regions where natural disaster have become more commonplace. It’s important to be prepared, and we have been working with local organizations from all over the world to help build their their humanitarian capacity. Training programs run in conjunction with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and International Medical Corps provide professionals with the vital skills they will need to respond.

NNPHL participants

A group of humanitarian leadership trainees at a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya.

In countries like Chad, we have encouraged local communities to map out their own vulnerabilities, build resilience, and have a plan in place for when disaster strikes. It’s one of the most efficient and effective ways to protect themselves — and Concern provides resources, knowledge, and support.

Responding to (and preparing for) emergencies is just part of what we do — but it’s a vital component of our work and we continuously strive to be faster, better, and more efficient at how we do it.

Learn More about Our Work in Emergency Response

How We Do It

Innovation

We never take a cookie-cutter approach to humanitarian aid. We listen to what communities tell us about their needs and abilities and then design our programs specifically for them. This often means being creative or taking informed risks.

Women & Children

Women and children bear the greatest burden when crisis strikes. When we respond to emergencies, whether a catastrophic earthquake or displacement due to conflict, meeting their needs is at the core of our work.

Community Empowerment

Even in the height of a crisis, learning and partnership are at the core of our approach. This means that recovery is driven from within and skills stay in communities long after the emergency subsides.

Helping build better responses

In an effort to improve the effectiveness of life-saving relief operations, Concern is developing tools to help first responders engage and coordinate with humanitarian systems during emergencies.

Learn More

Our Approach is Different

Reaching 10 million of the world’s poorest people.

With humanitarian aid & long-term solutions to poverty.

Concern operates in 25 countries worldwide.