Resilience: the ability of individuals to bounce back from adversity stronger than before. We have seen this concept working overtime for a year and a half as the world builds a path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and other global emergencies. In 2020 alone, a number of overwhelming disasters affected over 98 million people. Natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, civil unrest, tornadoes and more have devastated communities.
For our cause of the month, we’re focusing on Disaster Relief. Emergency response, conflict intervention and preventing climate emergencies are all important aspects of countering crisis situations. Disaster response efforts include coordination with all involved parties to respond immediately, saving lives, delivering critical supplies, setting up safe spaces for children, offering medical support and more. Charity programs also offer long-term relief to build resilience for individuals and communities impacted.
Our charity partners are on the ground responding when disaster strikes. Through the distribution of relief supplies such as clean water, temporary shelter or medical support, essential aid is being delivered to the world’s most underserved and remote populations.
Research has shown that populations experiencing lower levels of development are more vulnerable to natural disasters and their lasting negative effects. Inequities related to poverty levels and access to health care are strongly connected to the impact of COVID-19 and other disasters. Marginalized communities like refugees, women and children, people of color, and daily wage workers face even greater challenges.
Devastating events such as severe storms and floods, incidents of mass violence and infectious disease outbreaks pose a much greater threat to vulnerable communities struggling from the already-present burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, those who are at-risk must prepare for these disasters with the additional concern of COVID-19 safety and access to resources.
Whether helping farmers get a second chance in Central America after crop devastation or aiding with COVID-19 resource distribution in lower-developed communities, life-saving actions countering these disasters is paving the way for future growth, economic stability and resiliency. We commend the work of our incredible charity partners who are answering the calls of those who need help the most.
By prioritizing individual and community health, Americares helps people affected by poverty or disaster. Their Emergency Programs help communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. As a health-focused relief and development organization, Americares delivers services focused on emergency response, access to medicine and clinical programs. The organization uses donated medicine and supplies and the local infrastructure of their partners to build community health. When crisis hits, Americares is there to make sure health comes first, like with their response to Hurricane Laura:
“Around 3 a.m., the roof ripped off, rain came in, and then everything crashed to the floor,” said JayVon Muhammad, describing her experience at the SWLA Center for Health Services in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she is the CEO. Muhammad waited out the storm in the clinic so she could be in the community to help after the hurricane passed. The clinic’s patients are low-income and uninsured or on Medicaid, and many couldn’t afford to evacuate. Muhammad and the SWLA staff did what they could: They transported people to evacuation centers before the hurricane, sheltered families in the undamaged part of the clinic during the storm and immediately checked on people who had sheltered in place — delivering water and reassurance.
A year earlier, Muhammad and her team learned these emergency strategies and more in Americares Health Center Resiliency Bootcamp. Half of the SWLA clinic — about 26,000 square feet — was destroyed by Hurricane Laura. Despite its own damage, the clinic helped families without power and clean drinking water. With support from Americares, SWLA brought in a water tank, ice, portable toilets and showers. Muhammad knows that the health of people in Lake Charles is threatened by more than hurricanes. “Both Hurricane Laura and COVID-19 have been really crippling for us,” she said. “You’re looking at a vulnerable community.” Americares supports 1,000 safety net clinics like SWLA, providing $220 million in medicines and supplies just last year. “Poverty is a public health crisis,” said Muhammad. “This community was struggling before Laura and is going to be struggling after Laura. We want help with the Laura response, but we also want people to understand that we need help to be just as well as the communities that are thriving across the country. We need to be prioritized.”
The Clinton Foundation
The Clinton Foundation serves as an operating foundation aimed at creating economic opportunity, improving public health and inspiring civic engagement and service. From mobilizing relief efforts following natural disasters to responding to public health crises, the Foundation is committed to driving positive action and change. Because of this work, the Foundation has launched a new series focused on addressing racial and economic disparities in the wake of COVID-19.
During their “Building an Inclusive Recovery: Small Businesses, Big Opportunities” panel discussion, a particular opening quote by former President Bill Clinton stuck out:
“America can’t succeed unless all of our people have the same opportunities to do so. Even before COVID, the racial wealth gap had widened to the point where the median net worth of white households was 13 times larger than Black households and 10 times larger than Latino households. And with Black and Latino owned businesses, small businesses closing had much higher rates than white owned businesses. The gap is only growing wider.”
President Clinton’s statement demonstrates the need for income inequality to be accounted for when responding to crises. With the pandemic increasing the racial wealth gap, emergency response must focus on marginalized communities who face the greatest obstacles building back from disaster. When we lend a hand to the most vulnerable, our communities become more resilient together.
Whenever life-saving aid is needed, Direct Relief is there to respond. Working in the U.S. and internationally, the humanitarian aid organization’s assistance programs address the immediate needs of the world’s most at-risk populations. A great tool offered by the organization is their near real-time interactive maps. From reporting global aid to hurricane preparedness, Direct Relief is able to inform communities on crisis events by analyzing spatial data. This spatial data is based on socioeconomic aspects that contribute to poverty levels, poor health and the susceptibility of a community to disaster events. Learn more about the impact of Direct Relief’s aid distribution and track global disasters ranging from the spread of COVID-19 to hurricane patterns through their informative maps.
Food For The Poor
Driven by their faith-based mission to bring relief to underserved communities, Food For The Poor helps those in extreme poverty. The organization works throughout the Caribbean and Latin America to provide life-saving meals, build secure homes and deliver emergency aid to struggling populations. Food For the Poor supports programs that provide agricultural assistance to independent farmers and encourage the development of small businesses. With the goal of long-term economic growth in mind, the organization has helped rebuild families and communities through their relief efforts.
Farmers in Central America who lost their crops after back-to-back hurricanes in November are getting a second chance at seeing their fields come to life, thanks to generous Food For The Poor donors. In Honduras, about 80% of the crops were destroyed by the catastrophic Category 4 storms, which unleashed winds of 150 mph, torrential rains, flooding and landslides. The situation is so dire for some families in Honduras that people are beginning to leave the country to seek a better life for themselves elsewhere. The hurricanes added to the woes of communities already grappling with the loss of jobs brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charity is working with CEPUDO, its longtime in-country partner in Honduras, to assist farmers with two avocado projects in Ocotepeque and La Campa, a bean project in El Medio Guire, a plantain project in Choloma and a cocoa bean project in Marcala, all of which were severely damaged or destroyed by the storms. The goal is to restore the projects and help the farmers increase the production of their crops, providing an even bigger boost to their families and communities. About 1,120 families will benefit. “Families in Central America were already hurting because of COVID-19, and then on top of that, they lost their crops,” said Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine. “We continue to do everything we can to provide aid to these families,” he added. “Our goal is to provide them with the tools and training necessary to get back on their feet, so they can support their families and their communities, and put them back on a path toward sustainability.”
Islamic Relief USA
Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) imagines a world free of poverty. Addressing a variety of humanitarian causes from education and women’s programs to aid for refugees and emergency response, IRUSA provides relief and development to communities and a voice to overlooked individuals. IRUSA has played an active role in distributing resources and aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting over 4.5 million people across 35 countries. Aid has included food and water supplies, construction of temporary shelters and critical medical care. IRUSA’s quick response to global disasters has helped communities bounce back, building necessary resilience in the face of current and future crises.
Mercy Corps is a global team of humanitarians working to empower people affected by crisis. The organization partners with local governments, social entrepreneurs, youth leaders and more to connect fragile populations with resources to improve lives. With the goal of rebuilding sustainable and prosperous communities, Mercy Corps has helped over 220 million people maximize their potential. Decades of emergency response experience has equipped the organization to handle some of the most devastating crises. This past year, Mercy Corps teams have strengthened local economies by supporting farmers and small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mercy Corps’ AgriFin program in Kenya is helping farmers like Paul Mwendo adapt to years of inadequate rainfall, with high-quality seeds for drought-tolerant crops and connections to new commercial buyers via mobile phone. For small-scale farmers, COVID-19 intensifies the already severe impacts of the climate crisis, not only for the farmers’ livelihoods, but for the millions of people they feed. As rural producers struggle to get seeds, fertilizer and other agricultural resources, local markets have shut down, travel has become difficult and the credit farmers need to bridge the gap has grown scarce. The World Food Program warns that the number of people experiencing food insecurity could increase by 82% in 2021— an additional 270 million hungry people, 50% of whom are small-scale farmers.
Mercy Corps’ AgriFin program helps small-scale farmers adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and shocks like COVID-19 by providing access to data and insights to help respond to unpredictable weather and pests, as well as digital financial services to keep their enterprises afloat. To date, 5.5 million farmers in seven African countries and Indonesia have accessed digital products and services through the program. In 2021, the program will scale to reach 16 million, with a focus on small-scale farmers in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Join the fight to respond to our world’s disasters
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the necessity of weaving community and humanitarian aid together in times of crisis. We must carry the same sense of togetherness when addressing future disasters and emergencies, especially for the most exposed populations.
Ready to make a meaningful impact and help communities rebuild? Check out our Disaster Relief page to explore the charities you can support in your upcoming workplace giving campaign.
If you don’t want to wait until your employee giving campaign kicks off, give to Global Impact’s Standing Emergency Response Fund today. Your contribution will set aside funds for our charity partners responding on the ground to the next natural disaster or humanitarian crisis.
Join your colleagues for a greater impact
Check out the Disaster Relief Cause Kit to engage employees around this cause and give back together. Organize a map-athon to help humanitarian organizations map areas where they need to reach vulnerable people. Gather employees and their families to learn about disaster preparedness. Bringing colleagues together for such an important cause creates a lasting impact in your community and countless others.