Recovering From Crisis

Rubble removal
A woman catches a bucket in a line for rubble removal in the hilly Ravine Pintade neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Kendra Helmer

Natural disasters affected nearly 94 million people and caused $116 billion in economic damages in 2013.

Because crises and the temporary hardship they cause cannot always be prevented, USAID is always prepared to provide emergency aid to those in need around the world. But we know that simply addressing immediate needs without taking into account the mid- and long-term needs of crisis-affected communities is neither efficient nor effective.

USAID’s emergency aid programs provide immediate relief in the aftermath of a crisis while also setting the stage for recovery and rehabilitation. Examples include:

  • Providing tools and seeds to allow farmers to restart former jobs
  • Offering psychosocial care to traumatized disaster survivors
  • Preparing affected people to get back on their feet

A key component of moving quickly from saving lives to post-disaster recovery is having our disaster response experts work closely with our development experts, who focus on making long-term, systemic improvements in more than 80 countries worldwide.

By coordinating urgent relief activities with sustainable, multi-year programs, USAID helps people not only get back to where they were before the disaster, but also helps them move toward continued growth and resilience.

To fully or effectively meet beneficiary needs, USAID seeks unconventional and innovative ways to save lives or improve conditions after a disaster. For example:

  • In Post-earthquake Haiti, where urban populations were displaced on an unprecedented scale, new community-based approaches to shelter and settlements programs not only offered homeless families a roof over their heads, but also enabled Port-au-Prince residents to salvage existing buildings and keep neighborhoods intact.
  • In many African nations, USAID provides mobile cash transfers, allowing people to purchase food or other needed items locally using their cellphones. This assistance not only saves lives, it also stimulates the local economy by strengthening existing markets and helping businesses and farmers get back on their feet.

Such programs take communities beyond the immediate aftermath of a disaster, alleviating suffering and reducing the social and economic impact of the crisis as they begin to recover.

Last updated: February 19, 2014

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