Africa: Emergency Response

Kenya: Paulina Napitau
Paulina Napitau, near Kalapata, Kenya. A neighbor is weakened by hunger to the point that he is unable to walk. Photo: ACT/CWS

Droughts have continued to impact negatively on a large population in the Africa region, particularly those living in arid and semi-arid lands. The 2011 drought was considered the worst to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years, affecting more than 14 million people in the region, 3.7 million from Kenya alone.

Emergency Response Program

Working through partners, CWS seeks to save lives and reduce suffering in those communities that are affected.

Our proactive response focuses on facilitating and ensuring that communities take pre-disaster measures to reduce the impact and effects of a disaster, and to use early warning mechanisms that provide communities with information and analysis of potential disasters. Community empowerment strategies are key in creating awareness so that when a disaster occurs, individuals and communities are able to respond appropriately.

CWS's approach includes several areas of focus.

Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness: One of the factors that increases the severity of a disaster’s impact is when a community does not know how best to respond in times of crisis. Part of CWS’s proactive effort is building the capacity of communities to perpare for and handle disasters through Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness efforts and Disaster Management Trainings. Once a community understands the existing hazards, it is then able to launch specific efforts to reduce its vulnerabilities. These efforts may include the creation of food storehouses, the adoption of drought resistant seeds, water conservation measures, environmental protection efforts and the adoption of good farming methods.

Rapid Response: When a disaster strikes, part of CWS’s direct emergency response involves “rapid response” to ease the immediate, devastating impacts of a disaster upon communities. This may include evacuations and the provision of immediate relief food, shelter, clothing, and medical supplies.

ACT Alliance: CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, through which member churches and organizations coordinate their response to emergency situations around the world. In part, this is made possible through regional forums. CWS is extremely involved in the regional forums in Eastern Africa, having played an instrumental role in the formation and management of the ACT Kenya Forum operating out of Nairobi, Kenya. CWS is also involved in the ACT Forums in Tanzania and in Southern Sudan.

Trauma Healing and Psychosocial Support: In the aftermath of disasters, communities often are in need of trauma healing and psychosocial support. In order to meet this need, CWS may conduct training workshops for church and civic leaders, empowering them with the awareness and necessary skills to conduct trauma healing efforts in their local communities.