In 2017, 318 natural disasters were recorded worldwide with repercussions in at least 122 countries. These disasters killed over 9,500 people and affected 96 million. The majority of those affected by natural disasters reside in India and Sierra Leone.
Natural Disasters and Poverty
According to the World Bank, natural disasters force 26 million people into poverty annually and can erase years of poverty reduction progress. The estimated effects that natural disasters can have on welfare in most countries is equivalent to a loss of $520 billion per year in consumption.
Natural disasters and poverty are linked together as impoverished populations are unequally affected and have an inability to subsist. The poor are more likely to be exposed to natural hazards due to climate change. Furthermore, those affected lose a portion of their income and are often unable to receive aid from the government and financial systems.
An example of the disproportionate burden of natural disasters endured by the poor is Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. Following the cyclone in 2008, at least 50 percent of poor farmers were forced to sell land as means to pay off debt after the storm. The cyclone’s social and economic consequences still exist 10 years later.
President Jim Yong Kim of World Bank Group said: “Storms, floods and droughts have dire human and economic consequences, with poor people often paying the heaviest price. Building resilience not only makes economic sense, it is a moral imperative.”
In order to rebuild a country after a natural disaster, there must be an immediate response from governments and disaster relief programs. Those affected need access to resources like food, shelter and medical care. Various disaster relief nonprofits are working to lessen the burden of the impacts of natural disasters around the world.
Top 10 Disaster Relief Nonprofits
- The International Red Cross (IRC) acts as the globe’s largest humanitarian network, delivering instant aid with trained disaster responders and relief supplies. By supplying water containers, shelter tools and cooking kits, IRC helps 100 million people who are affected by natural disasters every year. To date, IRC has also reunited over 9,900 families separated by natural disasters.
- All Hands and Hearts is one of the world’s leading disaster relief nonprofits. After All Hands and Happy Hearts merged into one group, they began working nationally and internationally to provide disaster relief. The group created the “Smart Response” method to acknowledge the immediate and long-term effects of natural disasters. Over 35,000 volunteers act as first responders to rebuild disaster-resilient homes and schools for affected communities.
- Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) provides emergency response medical aid to communities affected by natural disasters, epidemics and conflict. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, MSF began treating those injured within minutes. MSF offers long-term care to affected populations and distributes medical disaster kits to countries even before they arrive on the ground.
- Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that works with ministry partners to meet the urgent needs of crisis areas. Samaritan’s Purse distributes staple food kits, relief essentials, emergency medical care and, when needed, constructs traditional shelters for families in recovery.
- Active in over 80 countries, Direct Relief International improves the lives of those affected during emergencies by providing shelter, water, food and medicine. Direct Relief tailors medical aid to the location’s circumstances while prioritizing search-and-rescue, emergency medical services and logistical flexibility.
- Currently responding to the global food security crisis, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) also responds to global disasters, funding relief kits, shelter and food to disaster-hit areas. MCC works to rebuild homes, provide employment, help individuals cope with trauma and prepare for future natural disasters. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, MCC educated populations on secure building construction.
- REACT International is a nonprofit organization consisting of volunteers who work to increase local resources in an effort to expand disaster relief work. REACT teams use communication technology to provide first-aid, special equipment and tend to other needs of the community.
- AmeriCares has three main courses of action: Ready, Respond and Recover. This group tries to anticipate need based on vulnerable areas and have supplies on hand so that they can respond as quickly as possible. Responders work with government and health sectors to prepare local hospitals and position medical supplies. AmeriCares remains in the affected location as long as necessary to help the health system recover and prepare for future disasters.
- Since 1988, International Relief Teams (IRT) has been mobilizing volunteers to provide immediate and long-term relief, medical supplies and funding to partner organizations. In the last 30 years, IRT has deployed 420 disaster relief teams, distributed over $100 million in emergency supplies and assisted families in 95 global disasters, including the Armenian earthquake in 1988.
- ShelterBox puts families first and believes that no family should be without shelter. They provide emergency shelter and tools to lessen the impact following a disaster and enable a faster recovery for families.
Listed above are only a few nonprofit organizations making an effort to relieve communities of as much suffering as possible after a disaster. Though there are many more disaster relief nonprofits dedicated to providing aid, this list highlights some of the support is available after a disaster. For a more comprehensive list of disaster relief nonprofits, take a look at The Humanitarian Travel website.
Since natural disasters can have catastrophic effects, the issue is being taken seriously as various improvements are being made annually. In order to successfully rebuild communities, it is crucial to support disaster relief nonprofits with a long-term impact and policies in favor of foreign aid.
– Diane Adame