Stories

ChildFund supporters are helping tens of thousands of children who have been affected by emergencies around the world.

Supporters of our Africa Food Crisis appeal have provided lifesaving support to children across the continent who are on the brink of starvation. In Bangladesh, ChildFund supporters are also improving conditions for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Myanmar.

These emergencies are so widespread that they demand the world’s attention. But what about the hidden emergencies? The disasters you you never hear about? Every year, children are impacted by crises in remote villages, far away from the cameras, and in some of the world’s poorest communities.

Floods, civil conflict, droughts, and many other disasters affect developing countries each year, often in places that do not have the resources needed to respond.

When these disasters strike, children are the most vulnerable.

ChildFund’s Project Humanity partners help ensure children affected by these emergencies can receive the help they need when a crisis occurs.

Here are a few hidden emergencies Project Humanity partners have supported in the last year.

Fires in Laos

When fires broke out in the remote village of Sanfan earlier this year, 90 percent of the houses burned to the ground. The sudden fire, which was sparked by an electrical fault, spread through the remote village, leaving 260 of its 324 residents homeless.

More than 20 percent of the people affected were children under five, who suddenly had no homes, no safe water, and whose parents had just lost their livelihoods.

Sanfan is in a hard-to-reach part of Xiengkhoung province in Northern Laos, where ChildFund works. With support of Project Humanity partners, ChildFund has been able to partner with the local government to provide long-term solutions for families affected by the fire.

Flooding in Papua New Guinea

Following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal on 25 April, 2015 ChildFund Nepal implemented an emergency response project to provide urgent relief to families in need and help rebuild their communities.

Almost overnight the earthquake left millions of people homeless with no reliable sources of food or water.

Among the worst-hit districts was Sindhupalchowk, where more than 3,000 people died. Thousands more were injured by falling debris caused by the quake or aftershocks, which included one measuring 7.3 on 12 May.

The earthquakes were the worst Nepal had seen in 80 years.

In total more than 8,700 people died, and more than 22,000 others were injured. Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged.

ChildFund’s response project, which ran for 2½ years, ensured children and their families in the Sindhupalchowk and Ramechhap districts received emergency aid in the immediate aftermath of the quakes, as well as ongoing support.

Another key focus was to restore sense of normalcy and safety for children by rebuilding schools and creating safe spaces where they could learn and play.

Immediate aftermath

In the weeks after the earthquakes, ChildFund staff overcame fuel shortages, ongoing aftershocks and the threat of landslides to ensure children received the help they needed.

Food baskets including rice, dhal, salt and cooking oil were delivered to more than 3,000 families (12,000 people), and tarpaulins and groundsheets were provided to set up temporary shelters to weather the monsoon.

Child-centred spaces provided children a safe refuge where they could play, learn and receive trauma support. This intervention was crucial for child protection as schools had yet reopened.
Apsara Khadka, head teacher at BS Dhuskaun, one of the affected schools, said the spaces helped alleviate children’s fears following the quakes.

“At home all the children were scared,” she says. “At the child-centred space in our school, children got a chance to sit and talk with their friends and hear stories together.

“They played Nepali drums, sang songs, and performed dance … They were happy.”

Build Back Better

After immediate needs were met ChildFund began working towards returning children’s lives to normal, by supporting schools so they could reopen.

Sanwar Ali, senior adviser of ChildFund Australia’s emergency response programs, said it was important for ChildFund to continue its work beyond providing immediate aid to ensure children and their communities were better off in the long term.

“Our projects in the last 2½ years supported families to cope with and survive the immediate aftermath of the disaster, helped them rebuild their lives and bounce back from the adverse situation,” he says.

“The vulnerable communities in Nepal are now better prepared because of our long-term recovery and rehabilitation and disaster risk reduction work.”