Emergency Response & Rehabilitation

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  • Poverty makes emergencies worse — especially for children.

    Image of little girl

    A disaster, natural or manmade, can derail a child’s life. And when that child lives in extreme poverty, life is even more fragile.

    Imagine a little girl’s home tumbling down around her. Perhaps she sees a loved one pass away. Another child loses track of his parents. Who will feed him? Who will keep him safe? Who can help these children heal and move forward?

    ChildFund responds to emergencies with an eye toward the specific needs of children, and we make it easy for you to help. Please donate to our Emergency Action Fund and help us stay prepared for the next emergency.

    Learn more about ChildFund’s approach to emergency management.



    Emergency Updates

    For more recent information about the Ebola outbreak in western Africa and how you can help, visit our Ebola Emergency Page.


    Vanuatu Still Reeling

    UPDATED 3/27/2015


    Ten-year-old James and his family from Efate Island are living under an improvised tent.

    Vanuatu continues to reel from the Category 5 cyclone that hit the tiny island nation on March 13. Cyclone Pam affected 166,000 people – including 82,000 children – and is considered to be the strongest cyclone ever to hit the South Pacific.

    With nearly 15,000 homes damaged or destroyed, more than 75,000 people were left without shelter. Although many have returned home from the temporary evacuation centers, most of the affected families are living in temporary shelters as they begin to rebuild their lives.

    Communication has been restored to much of the country, and some schools have begun to reopen. However, many — about half — were seriously damaged or destroyed in the storm. More urgently, 110,000 people are still without access to clean drinking water. Water tanks have been destroyed and wells contaminated, forcing women and children, in particular, to walk long distances in the hot sun to fetch fresh water. Some have even resorted to boiling seawater — a dangerous alternative.

    Crops have also been wiped out, a serious issue for a population whose income is based predominantly on agriculture. With impending food shortages, children are also at risk for malnutrition and hunger, and the economic toll of lost harvests will have a lasting impact on the region.

    To help with the continued response effort, please donate today to ChildFund’s Vanuatu Emergency Response Fund.


    Focus on Water and Sanitation in Vanuatu

    UPDATED 3/25/15

    children in Vanuatu

    ChildFund Australia reports that Live & Learn Vanuatu, its local partner on the ground, is doing preliminary work to restore water and sanitation systems to the islands. Right now, the team’s focus is to purchase roofing materials, tools, screws, nails, timber and rainwater harvesting systems, an urgent task because prices are quickly rising. ChildFund Australia contributed funding to purchase these materials.

    Also, Port Vila Central School reopened yesterday, after community members helped clean up debris and dry out library books. Other schools are still closed and need repairs. Ten-year-old Sabrina, seen in the picture with her 1-year-old brother and cousins, is waiting for her school to reopen.

    As work continues, you can help by making a donation to ChildFund’s Vanuatu Response Fund.


    Vanuatu: Immediate Needs, Long-term Concerns

    UPDATED 3/19/2015


    Cyclone damage

    Devastation in Port Vila. Photo courtesy Live & Learn Vanuatu.

    With communications still largely disrupted throughout Vanuatu’s 80 islands, information about conditions there is sparse, especially from the outer islands. Reports of the archipelago’s alarming shortage of freshwater supplies cite water and hygiene as among the most life-threatening concerns, and ChildFund is supporting an emergency response centered on this issue, through Live & Learn Vanuatu, ChildFund Australia’s partner organization on the ground.

    Cyclone damage to school

    A classroom. Photo courtesy Live & Learn Vanuatu.

    Crops were destroyed along with the landscape, so a food crisis also looms, and tens of thousands of children and families remain without shelter. Live & Learn’s Anjali Nelson reports that most of the schools Live & Learn works with in Port Vila, the capital, have suffered significant structural damage, which will pose challenges for the work to provide clean, safe water and hygiene facilities.

    We will provide information as we receive it. But it’s clear now that the need is great, and the response will be long and complex. Please help.  


    Deadly Cyclone Hits Pacific Island Vanuatu

    UPDATED 3/17/15



    One of the strongest cyclones ever to hit the South Pacific island of Vanuatu has left at least 24 people dead, as well as thousands of homes, schools and buildings damaged or destroyed and an estimated 3,300 people displaced. News reports indicate that fresh water is running out, as well as food supplies.

    Our Alliance partner, ChildFund Australia, is working with Live & Learn Vanuatu, a child-focused organization that has been operating in Vanuatu for many years, to respond to this disaster and ensure that children are protected in the wake of the storm.

    “Cyclone Pam has been compared to Typhoon Haiyan, a fresh memory, so our hearts are with the children and families of Vanuatu, knowing they have an enormously difficult road ahead,” said ChildFund International President & CEO Anne Lynam Goddard. Approximately 60,000 children have been affected.

    “One of the main concerns now is to restore clean water to help ensure the health of children in cyclone-ravaged areas,” said ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence. “Contaminated water can contain diseases such as cholera, which causes severe diarrhea and can lead to death.

    “ChildFund is working with Live & Learn to restore water systems and sanitation facilities in schools and to protect and support children in Vanuatu whose lives are in upheaval as a result of this disaster.”

    You can help by making a donation.  

    Flooding in Sri Lanka

    Updated 12/30/14

    Since Dec. 19, Sri Lanka has been experiencing turbulent weather, with heavy rainfall and localized high winds at times caused by two low-pressure areas in the Bay of Bengal near the island. As a result, more than 1 million people across 22 of the country’s 25 districts have been affected by flooding, high winds and landslides, which have damaged or destroyed about 20,000 houses. More than 100,000 people have been displaced to evacuation centers, and many more have fled to the homes of friends or relatives.

    Some regions have reported cases of dengue fever, which is carried by mosquitoes.

    ChildFund’s local partner organizations operate in seven of Sri Lanka’s districts, four of which were affected enough to require our support, which is taking place now, according to our Dec. 29 situation report.

    In those areas (Puttalam, Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa and Anuradhapura districts), we are collaborating with government authorities to provide food, water, bedding, mosquito nets, hygiene items, learning materials and, through Child-Centered Spaces, psychosocial support. In Batticaloa, the worst-hit region, 1,951 ChildFund-enrolled children were affected by flooding; 505 total in Puttalam; 44 in Polonnaruwa and six in Anuradhapura.

    We will provide further updates as they become available.

    Philippines Weathers Typhoon Hagupit

    Updated 12/9/2014

    To a collective sigh of relief, Typhoon Hagupit is exiting Philippine waters without having wrought nearly the expected damage. Here’s the breakdown of our affected program areas:

    Western Visayas: All enrolled children are accounted for, save one who had traveled to another area and whom we are tracking down through a family member. All 87 families who sought refuge from the storm are now back to their respective homes. Some houses were damaged, and the local partner organization is coordinating with the government for help with repairs.

    Southern Luzon: All children are accounted for. The 200 families who evacuated are gradually returning home.

    Bicol: All children are accounted for. The 2,675 enrolled children and their families who evacuated spent two nights at the evacuation centers and have returned to their homes. Classes in some schools have already resumed. Power supply is up already.

    Throughout all affected areas, our local partner staff are assessing the extent of damage to property and livelihoods of our families affected by the typhoon.

    Here’s a message from ChildFund Philippines National Director Katherine Manik: “Thank you all for your support during this time. The greatest thanks and appreciation go to the ChildFund Philippines staff, many of whom weathered the storm in harm’s way in our offices, hotel rooms and at their homes in order to prepare for and protect our program participants, children, families and communities and be ready to respond if necessary. ChildFund Philippines has a remarkable team of dedicated professionals who have earned the highest respect and recognition for their service to ChildFund.”

    Updated 12/7/2014


    Typhoon Hagupit

    Just over a year after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines, Typhoon Hagupit, locally known as “Ruby,” is roaring slowly across that country, including some areas still recovering from Haiyan.


    After Hagupit’s erratic pattern of development from tropical storm to Super Typhoon to “strong typhoon,” leaving millions shaken and fearful, Hagupit made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on Saturday evening, tracking across Samar and just north of Tacloban City, the area hardest hit by Haiyan.

    Fortunately, Hagupit has turned out to be not nearly as powerful as last year’s deadly Haiyan. Still, the slow-moving storm is bringing torrential rains, and flashfloods and landslides are concerns. The storm is curving northwest, toward Manila, and will pass south of the capital on Monday night.

    Meanwhile, ChildFund is participating in coordinated response and needs-assessment planning with the government and other NGOs. We also are coordinating closely with our local partner organizations in potentially affected areas; before the storm, all reported that they were ready, with Child-Centered Space kits pre-positioned to provide children with psychosocial and other support. Emergency response teams have pre-positioned supplies, including emergency kits and tents.

    As of right now, our easternmost local partner is gathering information about the community it serves and will conduct rapid assessments on Monday, once the weather subsides more. We are still waiting to hear from our other four local partners in Hagupit’s path, but the weakening of the storm as it passes over land is reason for hope. We’ll provide more updates as we receive them.

  • Typhoon Rammasun Lashes the Philippines


    RS25437The first typhoon to hit the Philippines since Super Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation last November has pounded the archipelago with high winds and heavy rains. After making landfall in Bicol on Tuesday, Typhoon Rammasun (locally known as Glenda) intensified as it traveled northwest toward Manila, packing sustained winds of 115 mph. More than 400,000 people were evacuated in advance of the storm.

    Before the typhoon arrived, there was concern that there would be major flooding in Manila, but the storm did not bring as much rain as expected, so the high winds were the greater source of damage. Twenty casualties have been reported. Hundreds of thousands are without power, and the capital is largely shut down, but schools and offices are expected to open on Thursday.

    ChildFund works with five local partner organizations that lie in Rammasun’s path. All of them prepared extensively for the storm, coordinating with their communities to pre-position emergency response teams; food, water and other needs; and Child-Centered Spaces. The nature of ChildFund’s response will depend on what initial assessment reports tell us, and these are underway. A primary concern is flooding in low-lying and slum areas. We will provide updates as soon as they become available.


  • Typhoon Haiyan

    Updated 2/7/2014


    Thirteen weeks after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, children and families continue to struggle. Infrastructure including electricity and water continue slowly coming back online, but some areas are still rationing water. Rains plagued the Visayas in early January, adding to the discomfort of families already left homeless by the typhoon and hampering mobility of government and non-government staff and aid workers. The weather also diminished attendance at some Child-Centered Spaces, or CCSs.

    So far, ChildFund has delivered 32,575 food packs (each of which feeds five people for five days) and 9,771 non-food item kits. Of the 15 CCSs ChildFund opened, 13 are still running.

    Meanwhile, ChildFund is beginning to shift its strategy from relief efforts to recovery. This means, in part, supporting the transition from CCSs into a community-based child protection model.

    Overview of Communities

    Roxas City, Capiz:

    Three Child-Centered Spaces are still running in Roxas City. Since most public elementary schools and day care centers reopened on Jan. 6, CCSs have reduced schedules, only on Saturdays and Sundays. ChildFund has also provided orientations on CCS activities to PTA officers, community council members and educators from six schools.

    Ormoc, Leyte:

    ChildFund continues its work to help communities take on responsibility for child protection mechanisms to ensure that children will continue to be protected and CCS activities will integrate into community- and school-based approaches. The three CCSs now operate only on Saturdays.

    Parents report that they are happy to see their children happy in the CCSs. ChildFund provided teachers with training on psychosocial support, and the teachers are now applying some of the activities in their classes.

    Tacloban, Tolosa, Tanauan and Palo, Leyte:

    Local volunteers and schoolteachers continue to provide CCS activities, some of them after school, now that classes have resumed.


  • Ebola Outbreak in Western Africa

    Updated 08/07/2014

    MapAs Ebola continues to spread in several western African countries, with more than 900 deaths reported in the region, simple measures, like hand washing, are proving to be one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

    “Due to intense awareness raising and education, people now believe that the disease is real and not attributable to witchcraft or other causes,” says Billy Abimbilla, ChildFund’s national director for Sierra Leone and Liberia. The national office has coordinated with health authorities to respond to the emergency. Meanwhile, our local partner organizations are providing education, hygiene kits and bleach. Beyond these activities, other programs remain on hold.

    The situation remains tense as the virus has shifted to new areas of Sierra Leone, including one district adjacent to our program areas. Health care providers have died, many are ill, and others are staying away from work for fear of infection, so the already weak health care system is further compromised. “The government is however doing very well in committing resources, including the cutting of ministers’ salaries to respond to the situation,” says Abimbilla.

    In Liberia, on the other hand, the virus has accelerated and is spreading faster than expected. Because the situation there initially seemed less dire, education and awareness raising were less intense. Thus, Abimbilla says, “many people are still in the denial stage about the disease, doubting its killing power.”

    ChildFund is a member of the NGO consortium addressing the epidemic in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, attending regular debriefing sessions with the governments every week to know what is being done and to contribute to the discussions.

    Please understand that we cannot answer questions about specific children, for two reasons: To preserve families’ privacy, we cannot share personal medical information; and in-country ChildFund staff members are not readily available to answer questions during this challenging time. We ask supporters to bear with us, and know that we are keeping a close eye on the situation and will provide updates as we receive them. But if the worst does happen, the national office notifies ChildFund’s international office, and we in turn notify the sponsor. Thus, no news is good news.

     Updated 06/19/2014

    The spread of Ebola in the Mano River sub-region has been contained in Guinea, which has had the most documented cases. But recently in Sierra Leone, the number of cases jumped — as of June 18, this hemorrhagic fever had claimed 20 lives, with 132 people having tested positive. The cases are concentrated in the Kailahun District, which shares a border with Liberia, to the east. ChildFund operates programs in five of Kailahun’s 14 chiefdoms.

    To contain the spread of this deadly virus, the Sierra Leone government has closed schools and prohibited all public gatherings. Vehicles and passengers entering and leaving the district must be screened at checkpoints, and residents are required to report to health authorities any symptoms of the disease in their communities.

    Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone and Liberia (combined) national office has evacuated ChildFund staff working in the affected areas, effective until the government of Sierra Leone and the World Health Organization declare the situation safe. All of these staff members have been screened and are free of infection.

    Thus, until the situation stabilizes, ChildFund has suspended its programs in the area, except for ongoing awareness-raising activities and community education, carried out by local partner organization staff members who remain at their posts because they live nearby. Working with local authorities, ChildFund is facilitating community awareness on symptoms and prevention of Ebola; promoting hygiene and providing supplies such as bleach, soap, buckets and towels; and distributing megaphones, batteries and protective gear to communities. The Ministry of Health and other nongovernmental organizations also are promoting awareness activities in Kailahun and throughout Sierra Leone, and various ministries are working on logistical concerns. Nationwide radio programs educate the general public about how to prevent infection, which spreads through contact with bodily fluids.

    We understand that sponsors are especially concerned about children they sponsor in these communities, as well as just over the border, in Liberia, where a smaller-scale flare-up has been reported. Please understand that we are unable to answer questions about specific children, for two reasons: To preserve families’ privacy, we cannot share personal medical information; and in-country ChildFund staff members are not readily available to answer questions during this challenging time. Please bear with us, and know that we are keeping a close eye on the situation and will provide updates as we receive them.


    A recent outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Guinea has affected the Mano River Union sub-region, which comprises Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea is the most affected, with 157 suspected cases and 101 deaths; in Liberia, 21 cases have been reported, with 10 deaths. One child died in Sierra Leone after having attended a funeral in Guinea.

    Symptoms of Ebola, which is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, include sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, failing kidney and liver function and, sometimes, both internal and external bleeding. 

    For this deadly illness, which kills 90 percent of those infected, there is no vaccine, and there is no cure. There is only prevention and containment, and these are the center of ChildFund’s emergency response. Learn how you can help.

  • Another Cyclone Hits India

    Updated 10-15-2014

    A year to the day after Cyclone Phailin hit eastern India, Cyclone Hudhud roared out of the Bay of Bengal with nearly 120 mph winds — in the same place, and with similar force. More than 400,000 people were evacuated ahead of the storm. A total 25 casualties have been reported, 22 from Andhra Pradesh and three from neighboring Odisha.

    Last year’s storm, then the worst storm in 14 years, brought with it memories of a devastating cyclone that took more than 10,000 lives in Odisha, then known as Orissa. Fortunately, Phailin’s loss of life was only about one-hundredth that of the 2000 cyclone, thanks to thorough preparation by the national government, community members, local authorities and, in our program areas, ChildFund’s local partner organizations. Most people were evacuated in time.

    Mita, a sponsored child, stands before her house, which was damaged by Cyclone Hudhud.

    Early reports suggest that the same will hold true for Hudhud — our local partners report that the people in the villages they support are safe. “Most of the people from low-lying areas of the project villages have shifted to safe places as arranged by the local district authorities,” says Chiranjeet Das, ChildFund India’s technical advisor for disaster risk management.

    Both states are experiencing widespread power outages, roads are largely blocked, and flooding and landslides remain risks. An additional concern is that the storm hit the area during a time when many communities are still recovering from the damage wrought by Phailin and the tropical depression that followed, which together damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and more than a million acres of farmland.

    After any emergency, ChildFund’s first step is to conduct rapid assessments in our program areas in order to plan our response, and we are doing that now. With the widespread disruptions in communication and other infrastructure, gathering information is difficult, but we will share updates as soon as we have them.


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