We provide grants to help our partners respond to three general types of emergencies:
Rapid-onset emergencies. The largest portion of our emergency funding is disbursed as flexible funding to address high-impact disasters, including disease outbreaks. Within 24 to 72 hours, we approve funding to pre-vetted partners who have the local and national capacity to respond effectively. For example, immediately after Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines in November 2013, killing more than 6,000 people, we made grants to Mercy Corps, Lutheran World Relief, and Save the Children. This funding helped provide families with immediate shelter, food, water, sanitation, medical care and supplies, and options such as cash-for-work assistance to get them back on their feet financially.
Drought and famine in Somalia have led hundreds of thousands of people to seek refuge in Ethiopia.
- Complex emergencies. Many emergencies in this category include an element of violent conflict and involve political and military forces and disruption of national systems, while others have roots in natural phenomena. Our grants in this category often go toward basic relief support—including food, water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare, and shelter—in the acute phases of complex emergencies, such as during peaks in violence or displacement. In late 2013, for example, we made grants to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic, where civil conflict has led to population displacement, civilian deaths, and gender-based violence.
- Slow-onset emergencies. Drought and famine are among the slow-onset emergencies that we work with our partners to address. For example, we have supported relief efforts in response to the severe drought and famine in the Horn of Africa and the drought and food crisis in the Sahel. Efforts include programs to build stability in communities through approaches such as improved agricultural practices that can help people remain productive in the face of future droughts.
Strengthening the Capacity of Emergency Responders
We work to strengthen the effectiveness of local and national responders, organizations, and institutions that are inevitably the first responders because they are on the ground before international help arrives and are best placed to understand the needs of their communities. We support these organizations in sharing effective approaches with one another, developing disaster-planning programs, and cultivating leaders who will be able to act quickly and effectively during an emergency. We are currently carrying out pilot projects in Bangladesh, India, Central America, and the Horn of Africa.
By helping communities build strong systems, we can strengthen their ability to “build back better” in the wake of a crisis. We can also promote a shift in the humanitarian sector from purely reactive responses to proactive preparation.
We evaluate our investments by gathering data on successful models and approaches, and we use this information to inform our future investments.
Learning and Innovation
A vaccine cold storage facility in N’Djamena, Chad.
Our Emergency Response program collaborates with other foundation programs to develop and study new approaches to disaster assistance, including innovative tools and technologies. For example, we have supported research and pilot-testing of approaches to improving water and sanitation in emergencies. We have also jointly developed innovations with the foundation’s Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases, and Vaccine Delivery teams—including chlorine dispensers, the global oral cholera vaccine (OCV) stockpile, new toilet prototypes, and improved slum sanitation methods.