Working in developing countries is often a daily struggle for survival. That struggle becomes all but impossible when a disaster strikes. Floods, earthquakes, war or conflicts can destroy a life and all assets in the blink of an eye. It's a life on the edge.
Consider this: In times of crisis, and the aftermath that follows, women, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. For example, significantly more women than men are injured or killed during hurricanes and floods. And when food becomes scarce, women and girls are the last to eat, as often their nutritional needs are viewed as less important than those of men and boys.
Working side by side with affected people
The International American Relief Society IARS is amongst the first to arrive and the last to leave during a humanitarian crisis. We are responding to today's emergencies and helping people prepare for tomorrows.
We help people respond, prepare, and recover from disasters. During an emergency, we participate with other aid agencies, governments, and local organizations to meet the many immediate needs of affected people, particularly women and youth. While each emergency response is tailored to the needs of each situation, we focus on four humanitarian core sectors: we ensure that people have enough to eat, a roof over their head, clean water and adequate hygiene supplies, and receive assistance for their sexual and reproductive health.
But instead of merely distributing goods or providing services, we include women and men in our emergency response. They work side by side with us as volunteers, supporting in needed people, promoting awareness on hygiene practices or encouraging their communities to join hands and rebuild their livelihoods.
We also work with communities to help them prepare for future crises. Together we assess risks, analyze shifting weather patterns and put evacuation plans in place. Preparedness is critical: it reduces risks and mitigates the magnitude of the impact of a disaster.
It is a long way to recovery after a disaster hit. Our work is done when livelihoods are rebuilt, and communities are prepared for future crises.
Gender Equality and Emergencies
When disaster strikes, women and youth often suffer most. On average, more women die during and shortly after disasters than men because women are more likely to rescue their children over themselves and are less likely to know how to swim and climb. Women are left without shelter and food, go without special medical care or defense against dangers like human trafficking. Pregnant women often face dangerous deliveries when clinics are wiped out by storms. In unprotected refugee settlements, girls may be at risk of harassment or rape. After crisis destroys a family's livelihood, domestic violence can increase dramatically. In the aftermath of disasters, women typically have fewer cash savings, lower levels of education and smaller social networks to draw upon than men.
In humanitarian crises, the International American Relief Society IARS analyses the different needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls, men and boys, to determine how best to respond. We make sure that women and girls get equal distribution of food and emergency supplies and can build a home again. We raise awareness about violence against women and provide maternal health services to teach mothers the skills they need to rebuild their family's lives. We create community spaces where women can meet to discuss issues and work to ensure that relief efforts take women's needs into account. As communities start to build their resilience, the International American Relief Society IARS provides women and girls do not lose out and instead, can fulfill their potential.
Hunger in Emergencies
Natural disasters and conflict often cause hunger and malnutrition. Drought can destroy crops, causing food prices to skyrocket, or violent conflict may force people to flee their homes, farms, and livelihoods. Alarming food crises are sweeping across other parts of the world, with 20 million people at risk of famine in Northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Democratic Republic of the Congo according to the UN. All the food crises in these countries have been exacerbated by war and insecurity.
The International American Relief Society IARS want to be there to help, provide lifesaving food, nutrition, and medical care for malnourished people. We want to build communities' resilience to mitigate and cope with future emergencies. This includes promoting environmental sustainability and empowering people economically so that they are better prepared for difficult times.
Disaster Risk Reduction
The International American Relief Society IARS is working with communities to help them prepare and plan for emergencies in the future. We work to build resilience against climate change. We do so by teaching adaptive farming methods and growing drought-resistant crops. We are helping build homes in safer places, with access to sustainable livelihoods, health, and social services. This helps ensure communities are equipped to both respond to and survive emergencies.
The Homeless Prevention Program ( Casa de la Divina Providencia ) provides people who are Absolute Homeless, Hidden Homeless or At Risk of Homelessness direct access to jobs opportunities and economic change.
Casa de la Divina Providencia provides assistance, referrals, and access to housing to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homelessness and are within one of the following target groups eligible to be Casa de la Divina Providencia Clients.
People leaving the corrections and hospital systems;
People of Aboriginal descent
The clients' needs are assessed, assistance is provided with achieving personal goals, and connecting individuals and families with stable accommodation and appropriate services. Casa de la Divina Providencia provides clients an opportunity to find and maintain long-term or more stable housing options. The program ensures that individuals establish stable accommodation and connect with services to support independence and sustain housing.
To provide services regardless of ethnocultural background, religious beliefs, physical ability, mental health status, without discrimination in a welcoming, safe, respectful, supportive, and secure environment.
Men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
Willing and motivated to work with Casa de la Divina Providencia staff to find and maintain housing