Emergency situations and disasters affect vulnerable communities disproportionately. The general living conditions and the precarious location of these communities often make them the first affected by a crisis and its impact more devastating. Most often disaster response efforts -- rescue, relief and rehabilitation, do not reach them or they are not able to access them immediately. Recognising this reality ActionAid India’s emergency response seeks to target people living in poverty and exclusion, and amongst them women, children, the aged and people with disability.
ActionAid believes that people without access to information and resources are less able to protect themselves from the impact of disasters, and to access the help to which they are entitled. We believe that change will only happen and be sustainable if rights holders are aware, conscious and organised to challenge power and hold the state and other duty bearers accountable in all situations –including in emergencies.
Experience shows that communities are best placed to respond quickly when disasters strike and are the experts on what they need to survive and recover. By listening to people we can make sure that our responses are appropriate and meet the needs people have expressed
People are at their most vulnerable during emergencies. Promoting their dignity as human beings can help preserve self-esteem and enable people to regain a sense of control over their own lives. Women led community groups are requested to make decisions on who should be diginity
While providing immediate relief is essential, we recognise the importance of supporting people to rebuild their lives through sustainable initiatives that promote lasting change. We link our emergency response to our longer term development work, helping change the power dynamics that keep people in poverty and at the same time increasing their resilience to future disasters.
We view accountability and transparency as an integral part of the critical process of empowerment that seeks to enable crisis affected communities. ActionAid is part of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnerships that defines the standards for emergency response. We also follow the Sphere standards that provide benchmarks to improve the quality of humanitarian assistance and the accountability of humanitarian actors to their constituents, donors and affected populations. For instance, we set up transparency boards wherever feasible.
As soon as disaster strikes, we ensure that the ActionAid team, our allied organisations in the area and our band of volunteers reach the site for evaluation and immediate relief. We reach out to the most vulnerable and excluded who are usually the last to receive relief. We ensure that single women, children, destitute, the aged, diseased are the first to receive relief and rehabilitation. We carry out our emergency preparedness and response in three phases: