Disaster Relief Organizations Are Essential
Floods, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis and avalanches: These natural occurrences are unpredictable and can have immediate, devastating effects on large populations. This is why disaster relief organizations are essential to humanitarian efforts worldwide to address needs in the wake of devastating storms and natural disasters.
However, the work of disaster relief organizations cannot meet every need in every situation. There are simply too many variables in any given region based on what type of disaster has occurred and local cultures and conditions. For instance, the needs in Africa in the midst of a drought are far different than the needs in Asia in monsoon season. This is why there needs to be many organizations that can respond, as well as evaluation tools to discern the needs in a specific region and situation.
In order for the right organizations, supplies and personnel to be sent to the area of concern, an assessment must be done. Various tools have been created for such a task, and one of those is the Disaster Emergency Needs Assessment. This tool and others like it allows global relief organizations to gauge if and what response is needed.
This process consists of three stages: assess, choose objectives and identify alternatives, and implement response. One relief organization’s assessment considers these factors:
- Whether or not an emergency exists.
- The demographics of the affected population and the number of people affected.
- The details of the emergency (cause, location, magnitude of disaster, etc.).
- The condition of the affected population (mortality and morbidity rates).
- The local response capacities and available resources, including organizational and
- The extent and type of life-saving needs and priorities.
- The likelihood of additional future problems or needs.
Considering these factors and coordinating with local government will help the relief organization make informed decisions that lead to best outcomes for people affected by a specific disaster.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies notes, “At the outset of any emergency, initial assessments should be timely and inform emergency responders about critical and immediate life-saving needs. In disasters—especially rapid onset disasters or sudden population influxes—there will be great uncertainty about the actual problems. Therefore, decision makers should use a systematic assessment approach to develop a picture of where people are, what condition they are in, what they are doing, what their needs and resources are, and what services are still available to them.”
Not only does such a systematic approach prioritize the most immediate human needs, but it also assists in the ready and proper utilization of disaster relief donations and disaster relief volunteers. Both are finite sources that can be best leveraged if proper assessments are happening before, during and after relief efforts.
GFA World is uniquely positioned to serve areas hit by disasters such as floods, cyclones and more. GFA missionaries are from the regions where they serve, and they serve in these regions year-round. This means they already have the language and cultural framework to be effective on the ground. It also means they can respond immediately to urgent needs when disaster strikes nearby areas.
Tarana experienced this firsthand when an earthquake hit her home village in Nepal. Her husband was killed when their house collapsed on him as he looked for their five children, who were already safe outside. She was left mourning and feeling hopeless for her future. She and her children had both immediate needs and future needs in the wake of the earthquake’s devastation.
Then a GFA Compassion Services team came to the village. They provided a blanket, tarp, soap and noodles for her immediate needs, and they also demonstrated Christ’s love through their loving care. It was the difference she needed in that moment, and the hope she needed for the future.
GFA Compassion Services are effective because of missionaries are already serving in places like Nepal. These missionaries could quickly and lovingly provide relief because of existing efforts to help people in Nepal. These networks are essential in timely, efficient response to disasters.
When you donate to GFA World’s Compassion Services and disaster relief efforts, you can be sure that immediate responses will be provided by missionaries who love Jesus and want to serve those around them as best they can. Teams also provide counseling and prayer for those they serve. GFA missionaries bring long-term solutions, too, helping rebuild homes and finding ways to provide income generation to help families get back on their feet.
Just like Tarana, those affected by natural disasters will receive essential resources such as medicine, blankets, food and other emergency supplies. GFA missionaries are already on the ground in many places in Africa and Asia. They can quickly get organized in the wake of a disaster in these regions and assist in relief efforts.
 “Disaster Emergency Needs Assessment Guide.” International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. https://www.alnap.org/system/files/content/resource/files/main/disemnas.pdf. June 2000.
 “Tarana: A Widow in the Nepal Earthquake.” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/nepal/tarana. May 2016.