Disaster Response

A disaster can be defined as “any situation involving the severe disruption, distress, and suffering of large numbers of people … that demands a humanitarian response.[1]” This can include any natural disaster such as floods, earthquakes or prolonged droughts as well as health epidemics, political unrest or wars.

Drought in Sahel worsens 

A humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa has the potential to affect more than 18 million people. A drought, which has led to a severe food shortage, on top of high food prices, environmental degradation, chronic poverty, government corruption and political instability - in some cases civil war - means that many rural communities across the region are dealing with a crisis within a crisis.

In Burkina Faso and Mali, more than two-thirds of the population is food deficient with World Neighbors program communities being among some of the most affected communities in these two countries, particularly in Burkina Faso. The insufficient rains during last year’s planting season resulted in a sharp decline in agricultural production and yields, leaving many families without enough to eat now.

World Neighbors, along with our partner organizations, are training communities on sustainable techniques and practices to alleviate and combat the devastating effects of drought. We are providing fast-maturing seeds and teaching them about consuming alternative food options (berries, leaves, roots), installing and enhancing wells to support irrigation during the dry season, supporting the establishment of improved post-harvest facilities and helping to establish new income-generating activities. World Neighbors has partnered with InterAction to raise awareness of this crisis and to support the millions of affected people.

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Show your support for our neighbors in Burkina Faso and Mali!
World Neighbors will address any immediate needs in our West Africa programs, as well as continue our long-term development plans. 100% of your gift will help us meet these needs and any funds that exceed the level needed will go toward World Neighbors ongoing work to help those around the world lift themselves out of poverty.

How does World Neighbors respond to disasters?

World Neighbors is a long-term development agency and typically does not assist with disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts. Under certain circumstances, however, World Neighbors will respond to disasters, frequently working in partnership with other agencies. We will always seek to respond to affected people’s expressed needs and to build upon their capacities, organizational structures and coping mechanisms, addressing the immediate crisis in a way that returns them as quickly as possible towards a long-term development process. 

World Neighbors long-term programs seek to improve local capacity for development, and by doing so, the programs also contribute to reducing participants’ vulnerability to disasters. This happens, for example, when farmers adopt more sustainable agricultural and environmental management approaches; community-based organizations gain increased capacity to address new challenges that inevitably arise; or particularly vulnerable communities develop contingency plans to respond in the event of a disaster.

When disasters strike and World Neighbors determines that it will respond, we use financial resources raised for the disaster response to achieve the following goals:

  • To help the affected communities meet their emergency needs for survival and recovery; and
  • To transition as quickly as possible back to long-term development objectives.


Disaster Resources 

World Neighbors in Action
Learning to Confront Disasters like Hurricane Mitch


Lessons from the Field
Reasons for Resiliency - Toward a Sustainable Recovery After Hurricane Mitch


 [1] The Oxfam Handbook of Development and Relief, Deborah Eade and Suzanne Williams, Oxfam (UK and Ireland), 1995. p. 811.