Direct Emergency Response
We provide grants to help our partners respond to three general types of emergencies:
Rapid-onset emergencies. The largest portion of our emergency grant funding is disbursed as fast-track funding to address high-impact disasters. Within 24 to 48 hours, we approve funding to pre-vetted and selected partners who have the local and national capacity to respond effectively. For example, two days after the Haiti earthquake on January 12, 2010, we awarded US$1 million to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to provide immediate shelter, food, water, sanitation, medical care, and other services. A day later, we awarded US$500,000 to Partners in Health (PIH) for immediate and medium-term medical care through PIH’s 10 existing health facilities and mobile clinics in Haiti and for the provision of medical supplies, tents, blankets, water, and other essential items.
Drought and famine in Somalia have led hundreds of thousands of people to seek refuge in Ethiopia.
- Slow-onset emergencies. Drought and famine are among the slow-onset emergencies that we work with our partners to address. For example, in 2011 we made grants exceeding US$8 million to support relief efforts in response to the severe drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. The grants were made to several partners with longstanding experience in the region: the World Health Organization, Mercy Corps, International Medical Corps, Oxfam-America, International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Save the Children. Since 2010, we have also awarded major grants in response to the drought and food crisis in the Sahel.
- Complex emergencies. Emergencies in this category include an element of conflict and often involve political and military forces and disruption of national systems; some have roots in natural phenomena. Many of our grants go toward basic relief support—including food, water, healthcare, and shelter—in conflict-ridden areas. In late 2012, for example, we awarded a US$1 million grant to the IRC to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where civil conflict has led to population displacement, civilian deaths, and gender-based violence.
Strengthening Partner Organizations
We work to strengthen the effectiveness of emergency responders by developing and disseminating effective approaches. We are currently carrying out pilot projects in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Bolivia, Niger, Nigeria, and the Horn of Africa.
We also monitor existing grants to gather data on successful models and practices and to fill in significant gaps in current research on emergency recovery. For example, several months after the Haiti earthquake, we awarded more than US$760,000 to Tulane University for a study to evaluate and assess the humanitarian response following the disaster. Findings so far have included the need for better coordination between international relief organizations and local and national leaders and institutions, as well the need for more protections against gender-based violence in the wake of a disaster.
In early 2012, we awarded a US$5 million grant to Tulane to create the Disaster Resilience Leadership Program, which will help universities in disaster-prone regions of Africa and Asia establish programs in disaster planning, risk reduction, and emergency-response leadership.
In 2009, we awarded US$2.5 million to BRAC, an international NGO, to improve emergency response in Bangladesh. BRAC has developed a highly successful model that includes formal emergency response procedures, training of more than 400,000 people to train others in their communities, and streamlined budgetary and signing authority to deploy immediate emergency response funds within their organization.
We awarded a 5-year US$5 million grant to CARE in 2008 to support the Emergency Capacity Building project, which has brought together six of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations—CARE, CRS, Mercy Corps, Oxfam GB, Save the Children, and World Vision—to improve the speed, quality, and effectiveness of their emergency response at all levels.
We also fund efforts by Oxfam Central America and its local partner PROVIDA to provide organizational assessments and technical and financial management training to 200 national organizations that act as first responders in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
A vaccine cold storage facility in N’Djamena, Chad.
Our Emergency Response program regularly collaborates with other foundation programs to develop and study innovative approaches to disaster assistance, including new tools and technologies. For example, we have worked with the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program on new sanitation technologies for use in flood zones, including the Dakar region of Senegal; with the Vaccine Delivery program to develop ways to store and distribute cholera and polio vaccines in Chad; and with the Financial Services for the Poor program to implement mobile-phone-based banking in Haiti, where more than a third of the banking infrastructure was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.