What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good. — Aristotle (384-322 BC)
In the Wake of Disaster: Providing Aid to All Who Need It
Disaster can strike anywhere, at any time.
Natural disasters are especially frightening because, though predictions can be made about approaching storms, the precise severity is unknown until the moment the storm is already laying waste upon its victims and their surroundings.
In June, 2013, devastating floods killed hundreds of people in India’s Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. Nearly a month later, in July, several thousand people were still missing. Currently, tens of thousands are in need of aid and rehabilitation.
Humanitarian aid relief workers always have their work cut out for them. The situation is not only about the immediate carnage created by disaster. The scope of damage to people and surroundings usually spans miles and will take years to remedy.
What is Humanitarian Aid?
Humanitarian Aid is aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies. The characteristics that mark it out from other forms of foreign assistance and development aid are that:
- it is intended to be governed by the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence
- It is intended to be short-term in nature and provide for activities in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. In practice it is often difficult to say where ‘during and in the immediate aftermath of emergencies’ ends and other types of assistance begin, especially in situations of prolonged vulnerability. (globalhumanitarianassistance.org)
The responsibilities of humanitarian aid work are vast and varied. The following statistics consider a few – but far from all – of the relevant details of people and places victimized by disaster.
- The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters shows an average 65% greater frequency in natural disasters over the last decade.
- Women and children are often the most affected by emergencies, particularly children under the age of 5 and single headed female households.
- Geographically, Africa and Asia are home to over half of all natural disasters and more than three quarters of all complex emergencies.
- Poor and marginalized populations are the most vulnerable to emergencies.
- In the conflicts of the 1990s, 95% of the deaths were non-combatants, mostly from malnutrition and disease.
PCI is a leader among humanitarian organizations committed to providing international humanitarian aid worldwide to people in need.
In many countries where PCI works, even minor shocks and stresses can have devastating and long-term effects on families – their health, safety, livelihoods, access to clean water and sanitation, food and housing.
PCI provides humanitarian assistance to people affected by disasters and complex emergencies; helps governments, local organizations, and communities better manage risk and respond to emergencies when they arise; and integrates efforts to help reduce vulnerability to disasters into all of its ongoing programs.
PCI’s humanitarian assistance programs address protection for vulnerable populations; water, sanitation and hygiene; health; shelter and housing; livelihoods; and education in emergencies. We emphasize identifying the most vulnerable in remote, hard-to-reach areas or in difficult and crowded urban centers; and we engage children, youth, women, the disabled, the elderly and marginalized groups.
PCI utilizes rigorous methodologies to assess the underlying and precipitating trends associated with vulnerability. We partner with leading universities to better understand the contexts where we work, the impacts of our programs, and ways to document and share our strategies with others.
PCI’s humanitarian assistance and disaster risk reduction programs are informed by a number of core principles.
Among them are that PCI:
- Moves beyond seeing responses to disasters as a continuum from “relief to development”, and recognizes that poorly designed emergency responses often undermine communities’ ability to rebuild and be more resilient in the future.
- Places a heavy emphasis on research, impact measurement, partnership with local and international universities, and transparency in humanitarian assistance programming, including engaging program participants in participatory research.
- Assembles inter-disciplinary teams dedicated to developing integrated programs that meet the diverse needs of communities living in vulnerable conditions or recovering from disasters.
- Utilizes best practices, lessons learned, and the normative principles in the field of humanitarian assistance, to inform context-specific programs.
- Dedicates itself to close coordination and collaboration with local, national and international partners, so that communities receive, participate in, and provide leadership to seamless programs.
- Dedicates itself to working closely with and strengthening local capacity to prevent, mitigate, respond to and recover from shocks and stresses, including forging strong partnerships with government agencies, local NGOs, community based organizations, households and individuals.
- Integrates a robust focus on women, girls, youth, the elderly, disabled, and marginalized populations into the design, implementation, and evaluation of its programs. And,
- Works in hard to reach areas where people are often most vulnerable, from remote, nomadic pastoralist areas of Ethiopia, to the urban centers of Port-au-Prince.
Please join us in our efforts to provide humanitarian aid to people the world over. Visit our website to see how YOU can make a difference in the lives of others. www.PCIGLOBAL.org