On the front lines of disaster relief in Haiti and far beyond

Three years after the deadly 2010 Haiti earthquake, World Vision continues working alongside communities there to provide long-term recovery support. But we’re also responding to other global humanitarian emergencies — natural and man-made — delivering critical assistance to children and families whose lives are at risk.

By Peter Warski, World Vision U.S.
Published January 16, 2013 at 12:00am PST

When a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, World Vision was uniquely positioned to respond quickly. Our team had already been working there for more than three decades, with more than 800 staff members on the ground in Haiti.

We also had relief supplies pre-positioned in the region — so when tragedy struck, World Vision was equipped to quickly provide emergency assistance in the face of unprecedented humanitarian need.

In the years since the deadly earthquake, World Vision has faced one of its most challenging disaster response situations ever. Even before the catastrophe, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Inadequate social and civil infrastructure, coupled with land ownership issues and a crowded urban setting, has created a uniquely complex environment for our staff members.

Despite these factors, hope is visible in Haiti. Children are returning to school, and families — some of whom faced complete devastation — are gradually rebuilding their lives.

Read World Vision’s three-year progress report (pdf) for more information on our accomplishments in Haiti since the earthquake, as well as the challenges we’ve faced, our financial records, and our goals for the year ahead.

How World Vision responds to global disasters

World Vision’s work in post-quake Haiti illustrates the full scope of our disaster response strategy worldwide — building a presence and infrastructure on the ground before the disaster occurs; responding to immediate, life-critical needs in its aftermath; and staying in the affected area over the long term to assist with rebuilding and recovery efforts. We refer to this as a “first in, last out” approach.

Our responses range from sudden-onset (Haiti earthquake) and gradual-onset (Horn of Africa drought) natural disasters to humanitarian emergencies caused by war and conflict.

Here’s a quick look at some of the other disasters World Vision is responding to right now.

Superstorm Sandy

After forming in the Caribbean and causing significant flooding in Haiti, Superstorm Sandy slammed into the U.S. East Coast and caused widespread destruction in highly populated areas, like New York City. World Vision immediately mobilized relief supplies provided by corporate donors and coordinated with local partners to distribute them to families in greatest need after the storm.

Read more about our response to Superstorm Sandy and our plans to support long-term recovery efforts.

Horn of Africa hunger crisis

In 2011, an historic drought took hold in Africa’s Horn region, affecting primarily the countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Rural families that depend on crop harvests and livestock for their survival lost both in great measure because of the failed rains. Acute malnutrition rates spiked, particularly among young children. Conditions became so dire that the United Nations declared a famine in parts of Somalia.

World Vision continues working to bring greater access to clean water and food security across this region, while building resilience among communities vulnerable to future droughts and food shortages. Read more about our response in the Horn of Africa.

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Violence between rebels and government forces in the eastern city of Goma has prompted children and families to flee their homes for displacement camps, where humanitarian conditions are dire. Overcrowding has led to unsanitary living spaces and outbreaks of cholera, diarrhea, respiratory problems, and more. Dozens of rapes and hundreds of injuries have been reported.

World Vision is working to meet the needs of the displaced, while providing supplies to overwhelmed area hospitals. Read more about our response to conflict in the DRC.

Syrian refugee crisis

Meanwhile, after nearly two years of conflict in Syria, more than 1 million are internally displaced, while another 436,000 have fled to neighboring countries. Many have left their homes without basic supplies, forced to fend for themselves as the coldest temperatures of winter take hold. The greatest humanitarian needs for displaced families are warm clothing, food vouchers, safe shelter, and emotional support for affected children.

World Vision works in this troubled region to provide assistance to children and families affected by the fighting. Read more about our response to the fighting in Syria.

Learn more

Read more about how World Vision responds to humanitarian emergencies here in the United States and around the world.

Two ways you can help

Make a one-time donation to our Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help us be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to humanitarian emergencies around the world as they occur.

Give monthly as an Emergency Response Partner. Your monthly donation will equip World Vision over the long term to deliver life-saving assistance — such as emergency food, clean water, medical care, and more — in the aftermath of disasters like the Haiti earthquake.