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2006 Spring - Inside World Vision's Emergency Relief


Report prepared by Jane Sutton-Redner and Steve Matthews

Where we work

Developing-world disasters and slow-simmering crises where World Vision has responded in the past year.

South Asia earthquake



October 2005 to present: The 7.6- magnitude earthquake killed as many as 80,000 people in Pakistan and India and affected 4 million. World Vision’s initial response: provide water, quilts, and burial cloths.


Central America floods



October 2005: Hurrican Stan’s torrential rains caused mudslides and flooding in five countries, killing more than 700 people. World Vision assisted some 30,000 families with immediate needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care.


Asia tsunami



December 2004 to present: The sea surge that left 280,000 people dead or missing in five countries propelled World Vision to launch the largest relief response in its 55-year history. See pages 12-22 for details about World Vision’s response.


Southern Africa food crisis



2002 to present: Years of drought compounded by HIV/AIDS imperil more than 10 million people who face severe food shortages. World Vision has already assisted more than 8.3 million people with food and other support.

Sudan/Darfur conflict



2003 to present: An estimated 180,000 people have been killed and more than 2.4 million displaced since janjaweed rebels took up arms in February 2003. World Vision is helpling 300,000 people in 22 camps, including providing food and health care.


Kenya food crisis



2004 to 2005: Persistent drought caused food shortages and desperate hunger. World Vision distributed food aid to more than 325,000 people.


Northern Uganda conflict



1986 to present: In a protracted campaign to overthrow the government, rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army spread terror and kidnap children into servitude. World Vision helps rehabilitate children who escape from combat and provides food, water, sanitation, and other support for thousands of displaced families.


Niger food shortage



2004 to present: First there was drought, then locust infestation, all exacerbated by chronic poverty. More than 3 million people are in critical need of food aid. World Vision provides therapeutic feeding for children and operates food-for-work programs.



Who’s on Point

A diverse group of experts ready to be deployed to a crisis at a moments notice

They are from 12 countries across the globe. They hold degrees ranging from theology and modern languages to applied economics and marine chemistry. Between them, they speak more than a dozen languages.

And when a crisis hits, their phones ring – in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Cyprus, or wherever they’re based – and they’re off to the scene, for three to six months’ deployment.

They are World Vision’s Global Rapid Response Team, 23 relief specialists who willingly fly into chaos to jump-start the organization’s relief programs. Sounds glamorous – but the reality is often round-the-clock work, rough living conditions, and increasing security concerns.

Team members – Christians who feel called to the work – reconcile the highs and lows. As British GRRT member Ian Ridley puts it: “Always interesting, always different, always challenging… never predictable, never boring, never easy.”

Debs Harris: “ ’Do you have a life?’ one of my church leaders once asked me. Creating balance in our lives is a challenge for many of us; we typically spend 50 percent of our time away from home, sometimes more,” says British water specialist Debs Harris. “Team life is important to us. We spend time together in extreme environments and get to know each other extremely well. Yet each of us is very different – together we represent the whole range in term of Christian belief, personality, and professional skills.”

Greg Campbell: In early 2004, Australian technology specialist Greg Campbell struck a rapport with Faread, 10, an earthquake survivor in Tsam, Iran, by showing him family photos on his palm pilot. “I pestered Faread with questions, and suddenly he went from somewhat awestruck and pensive to laughing at everything. I thought somehow I’d managed to become ridiculous in his eyes, just a very odd stranger from the other side of the planet. Then Faread’s mother said [to her son]; ‘ You haven’t laughed in 15 days.’ I counted backward, and it was exactly 15 days since the earthquake.”


How it Works

Timeline of a typical disaster response. World Vision’s interventions begin before the crisis and aim for long term.

Before the Crisis: Preparedness

  • Monitoring early-warning systems in vulnerable places
  • Training staff through disaster simulations
  • Prepositioning emergency supplies in warehouses in Pittsburgh and Denver in the United States; Brindisi, Italy; Bangkok, Thailand; and Nairobi, Kenya; among other locations

Within 72 hours: Quick action



  • World Vision staff closest to event communicate severity and need
  • Global Rapid Response Team deployed
  • First emergency supplies arrive and distributions begin
  • Communications (reports, photos, video) and media coordination begin
  • World Vision supporters contacted through email, web and emergency mail


One week to six weeks: Emergency Response



  • Food and other goods distributed to families in need
  • Water and basic sanitation provided
  • Emergency health teams treat victims
  • Temporary shelters set up
  • Programs target emotional healing
  • World Vision offices (including U.S.) raise funds


Six weeks to six months: Social and community recovery



  • Child protection measures established, including finding community support for orphans
  • Health and nutrition improved
  • Education restarted
  • Environmental recovery begun
  • Social issues such as resettlement and land tenure addressed
  • Psycho-social care continued through safe zones and play area for children


Three months to 12 months: Economic recovery
  • Small business restarted through small loans and training
  • Agricultural activities recovered
  • Alternative for livelihoods explored for those who lost jobs

Six months to two years: Infrastructure rehabilitation
  • Permanent shelter constructed
  • Health systems improved
  • Community centers built
  • Roads, bridges, and other transportation channels rebuilt
  • Child protection activities continued

Two yeas and on: Long-tern community development




  • Community stabilized
  • Children assisted through sponsorship
  • Sustainable jobs and businesses created
  • Local church equipped to support spiritual needs



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