How we respond in an emergency
When a disaster happens, we’re there to support children and their families by:
- meeting their immediate survival needs, providing essentials including water, food, shelter and healthcare
- creating safe spaces for children to recover
- ensuring girls and boys are still able to access education
- providing girls and women with dignity kits so they can manage their periods, even in the toughest conditions
- supporting the long-term recovery of communities.
We also work with at-risk communities before a disaster happens, enabling them to better prepare for and prevent future disasters, and minimise damage and loss of life.
Our programmes have been funded by the UK Government (DFID), the European Union (ECHO), the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), the START Network, UN agencies, players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and the ongoing generosity of our supporters.
Protecting children in emergencies
Protecting children and young people is at the heart of what we do. During an emergency, children are at even greater risk of harm, trauma and exploitation. That’s why we prioritise creating safe spaces where they can access education and the emotional support they need in the aftermath of a disaster.
Creating child-friendly spaces
Our child-friendly spaces offer a place of safety for children whose lives have been turned upside down, giving them the chance to heal, recover and restart their education. These are spaces where they can learn, play and draw, and enjoy their childhood again.
Join best friends Akim and Lim as they show you around their child-friendly space in the refugee camps in Ethiopia.
Reaching girls in crisis
If you’re a girl affected by conflict or disaster, your life chances are likely to be among the worst in the world. Girls in conflict settings are more likely to be married before the age of 18 than to finish school, and are at greater risk of exploitation and early pregnancy.
Education in emergencies
When disaster strikes, the prospect of finishing secondary school can become a distant dream for young people – especially girls. Our research shows that 13 million girls are completely out of school as a result of humanitarian crisis. But for girls, education is a lifeline. It offers a safe space to learn, access information about their rights and receive much-needed psychosocial support.
In South Sudan, our support means girls like 15-year-old Mary can continue her education. “When my father was given seeds and tools by Plan International – this is when I went to school,” she says.
DISTRIBUTING DIGNITY KITS TO GIRLS
Girls’ periods don’t stop after an emergency, but a few essential items can transform how a girl manages her period in the most challenging circumstances. That’s why, in the wake of a disaster, we distribute thousands of dignity kits, tailored to the community we’re reaching.
Essential supplies for girls
As well as distributing dignity kits, we also provide families with soap, buckets and water purification tablets, to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases and to ensure girls and women aren’t forced to travel long distances to collect water.
In Mozambique, these supplies are essential for girls like Anabela and her mum Elizete, who were forced to take shelter in a school after they lost their home during Cyclone Idai.
“We lost all we had in the water,” says Elizete. “I am scared of our next period because we won’t have enough material and water to use.”
Cash in emergencies
In the wake of an emergency, or when communities are facing long-term displacement or drought, Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) can enable affected families to meet their myriad needs through local markets. Financial support, provided by a cash transfer or vouchers, enables people to buy what they need the most – whether that’s shelter, food or school equipment and fees.
Families leading their own recovery
Cash and vouchers give families the means, flexibility and choice to lead their own recovery – and their children benefit too. Financial support for their family means they may not have to take part in child labour, enabling them to go back to school and protecting them from child marriage, exploitation, food insecurity and malnutrition.
In Palu, Indonesia, Plan International worked with a local bank to open accounts for people affected by the 2018 tsunami. The bank also provided mobile ATMs in rural locations, enabling people to withdraw their money close to home.
Preparing Communities for Future Disasters
Over the next decade, the number of children affected by disasters and emergencies is expected to triple, due to climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and population growth. This makes it essential for communities in hazard-prone areas to become better prepared for disasters.
Learning lifesaving survival skills
We work to strengthen the resilience of at-risk communities, enabling them to better provide for the safety and wellbeing of their children. We promote an innovative child-centred approach to disaster risk reduction, that harnesses the energy and ideas of children and young people to work towards making lives safer and communities more resilient to disasters.
In Thailand, children at our survival camps learn a range of lifesaving skills, including first aid, evacuation methods, abseiling to escape from buildings and earthquake response. They’re also shown how to map their schools for potential risks and hazards.
Rohingya refugees have been bracing themselves for the pandemic.
Six months after the cyclone hit, your support is helping girls get back into education.
Alia fled Syria with her family. Now she’s helping give children the chance of a childhood.
This World Friendship Day, we celebrate the power of growing up with great friends.
Working in partnership
Plan International UK is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation that brings together UK aid agencies to tackle major humanitarian emergencies.
The DEC unites the efforts of its member agencies (14 UK-registered charities) during major disasters by directing the public to a joint fundraising appeal. It aims to save lives by maximising money raised and ensuring funds are spent in the most effective and transparent way possible. We joined the DEC in 2011, becoming the first agency to join the umbrella organisation. Our membership reflects our long-term strategic commitment to both disaster response and disaster risk reduction.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is the branch of the UK Government responsible for delivering overseas aid. DFID supports a number of our resilience programmes and emergency responses.
Plan International UK is a member of Start Network - 42 national and international aid agencies/NGOs are leading for change in humanitarian aid. The network aims to create a new humanitarian economy - a system that reduces the power of centralised institutions and bureaucrats and gives more control to those on the front line of every crisis – and to this end it operates a number of innovative aid programmes.