In 2017, we responded to 65 emergencies in 24 countries, reaching approximately 12.9 million people, six million of whom were direct beneficiaries. Aside from emergency response, a large part of our work happens before a disaster ever strikes and involves building community resilience and reducing risks for the most vulnerable.

Paul Odhiambo, Concern's Emergency Coordinator, at a general food distribution being carried out jointly by Concern Worldwide and World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan. Kieran McConville/Concern Worldwide.
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Many of the countries where Concern Worldwide works are highly vulnerable to emergencies and shocks as a result of conflict and natural disasters. These vulnerabilities are likely to increase in coming years as the effects of climate change worsen. Our mandate is to respond rapidly to save lives and reduce suffering, and this is what we do.

Throughout 2016, we supported hundreds of thousands of people affected by the Syrian crisis in SyriaLebanon and Turkey. Within 24 hours of the forced eviction of refugees in Lebanon, we distributed kits so that families could construct new shelters.

In Somalia, thanks to our innovative approach combining three different funding mechanisms, we can respond within days of a disaster and scale up operations for as long as necessary. In 2016, this facilitated seven rapid responses to emergencies including a cholera outbreak, food and water shortages due to drought and support for people displaced by conflict.

However a growing part of our work in relation to shocks and stresses is focused on building community resilience by protecting livelihoods and reducing risks. 

Rope and hygiene kits are loaded by Concern team for distribution to those affected by Hurricane Matthew on the island of La Gonave, Haiti. Photo: Kieran McConville/Concern Worldwide.

Building community resilience

Part of our humanitarian work aims to help communities withstand emergencies and to help them become less vulnerable to future problems. This is particularly important as most regions were we work experience frequent natural disasters or ongoing political instability.

We position ourselves in some of the most vulnerable places in the world so that we are there before disaster strikes – we are able to detect when a situation is deteriorating and respond with tailored interventions. For example, we help to equip families with the skills and tools to feed and support themselves sustainably without resorting to ‘negative coping strategies’ such as selling essential assets, migrating for work or child labour.

Community Resilience to Acute Malnutrition (CRAM)

The Community Resilience to Acute Malnutrition (CRAM) programme was a key building block in our evolving work to promote community resilience, a subject on which our teams are increasingly focused. The CRAM pilot in Chad achieved impressive results, reducing acute malnutrition (wasting) and chronic malnutrition (stunting) levels and thus improving community resilience. We have expanded the approach to Sudan as a part of Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED).

Research and evidence

Guided by our Nine Principles for Community Resilience Programming, Concern is developing a growing bank of knowledge on community resilience to enhance programme development.

Our focus is on gaining evidence of what works, and then using this evidence to influence policy and practice at district, national and global levels.

Reducing risks 

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is central to our work on building community resilience. It is a systematic approach to identifying, analysing and reducing the risks of disasters. Through DRR, our teams aim to reduce the likelihood of disaster events, and vulnerabilities to them, as well as deal with the human and environmental factors that trigger them. 

As with our work on resilience, Concern’s DRR programmes span the divide between short-term humanitarian work and longer-term development work with the aim of reducing the factors that lead to extreme poverty.

Oula (name changed for security), a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, sits on the doorstep of a former stable which has been transformed into safe home thanks to the Concern team. Photo: Chantale Fahmi/Concern Worldwide 2017.

Concern’s approach to DRR

Risk is a fundamental driver and maintainer of poverty. All of the communities that Concern works with are subject to differing degrees of disaster risk, so all of our programmes incorporate DRR. Our DRR approach:

  • Covers both natural hazards and those caused by humans;
  • Tailors activities for the specific vulnerabilities and needs of the community;
  • Places equal emphasis on catastrophic and everyday risks;
  • Includes climate change adaptation - climate change impacts will be felt most keenly in many of the countries in which we work;
  • Addresses conflict, which is a common hazard in many of the countries in which we work;
  • Is community-based, starting with the perspectives of those affected, building on their capacities to withstand and recover from the impact of hazards;
  • Mainstreams Disaster Risk Reduction as a cross-cutting issue, addressing all sectors in our programmes;
  • Does not include responding to emergencies but does include preparing to respond (Preparedness for Effective Emergency Response (PEER)) - our internal process to ensure that we are ready, willing and able to mount speedy and effective emergency responses;
  • Is the foundation of our community resilience approach.

In depth

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Accountability is woven into the fabric of all Concern programmes. Learn more about our accountability and transparency procedures and processes, and read our annual report.