Keeping children safe

Every year, millions of children are hit by emergencies. Conflicts, war and natural disasters leave countless children, their families and communities facing hunger, insecurity and violence.


Last year, for example, in the Sahel region of West Africa over one million children were estimated to have faced severe and life-threatening malnutrition during the drought and food crisis (Save the Children and World Vision, 2012). And fleeing conflict and violence, over one million people, including 500,000 children, left Syria and thousands of families and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) abandoned their homes last year. Without food, water or shelter, they faced incredible hardship, insecurity and risk to their lives.

Without the necessary life skills and access to resources, children are particularly vulnerable in emergencies, especially when they are separated if parents and other family members have been injured, imprisoned or killed.

Without anyone to care for them and protect them, children can fall prey to disease, malnutrition, trafficking and other threats to their survival and wellbeing.

Last year, we helped 741,906 children affected by disasters – help us help more in 2013

What we do

Whether an emergency is caused by natural or man-made disasters, climate change, drought, famine or war, our dedicated on-the-ground teams work to prevent loss of life and reduce suffering as much as possible for affected children, as well as their families and communities.

Our life- saving humanitarian action revolves around three Rs: response, recovery and resilience. In emergency situations, we help meet the following needs:

  • Physical needs by providing food, water and healthcare
  • Psychosocial needs with child-focused programming and creating child-friendly spaces
  • Economic needs by rebuilding street markets or offering training in new livelihood skills and supporting/strengthening current livelihoods
  • Protection of human rights for children and other vulnerable groups
  • Spiritual needs, especially if children are used to belonging to a religious community.

In all of our emergency responses, we collaborate with the United Nations and other international and local aid agencies as well as with national and local government. This helps to avoid duplication, maximise efficiencies and ensure that all areas of need are properly met and there are no gaps in the overall humanitarian response – every child matters.

World Vision is committed to strengthening the local community’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. We seek to transform suffering into wellbeing while protecting rights, dignity and livelihoods – with a focus on children.

Give now to transform the lives of children affected by disasters

Humanitarian action

During 2012, there were fewer high-profile emergencies than in previous years. But where they did happen, World Vision was there.  


Last year, the Sahel food crisis in West Africa – where 18.7 million people were not getting enough food and four million children were at risk of acute malnutrition – was the focus of much of our humanitarian work.

Our long-term presence in the region meant that we saw the early warning signs and responded quickly launching a public appeal that with UK Aid Match funding from the Department for International Development (DIFD), raising over £810,000.  We were among the first organisations to provide food, health and nutrition programmes and water and hygiene facilities to over 163,000 people.

We also responded to other pressing emergencies:

  • In DRC, we distributed food to over 302,784 displaced individuals in North and South Kivu. In camps near Minova, 13,752 children now have access to child friendly spaces and 1,500 households have received cooking and hygiene kits. Other support in DRC included work to improve tation and the provision of support and counselling for 260 former child soldiers
  • We continue to support communities affected by drought in East Africa, assisting over two million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Ania with food, nutrition, health, sanitation, child protection and peace-building and conflict resolution
  • To support refugees fleeing from the crisis in Syria, we are aiming to reach over 165,000 people in Lebanon and 100,000 people in Jordan roviding food vouchers, hygiene items, household items, child friendly spaces and education programmes, among other services
  • Following the earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands in 2013, we delivered relief supplies to thousands of people, distributing essential items, including food, water, shelter kits, kitchen utensils, hygiene and sanitation supplies and clothes.

Donate today to help us reach more children affected by emergency situations


Read about the transformed lives of children once brought to the brink by disaster.




Alhousanne was just six-months old. Her mother, Rakia, was only 17. Before World Vision reached them, both were dangerously malnourished.  The West African food crisis had stripped lands of crops and left thousands of children battling for their lives.

Alhousanne was born in Tillaberi, Niger, the region worst affected by the food crisis. After their crops failed, Alhousanne and her two siblings faced a fearful future. Unable to provide them with food, Alhousanne’s parents watched as their children became thinner and thinner.

But despair soon turned to hope.

Through World Vision they were able to get food and services from the local health centre where World Vision runs a Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition programme.
To the joy of Rakia, Alhousanne and her malnourished siblings were coaxed back to life.



Living in Syria, the sounds of gunshots and bombs were commonplace for 11-year-old Mahmoud. When the escalating violence became unbearable, Mahmoud and his family fled to Lebanon with nothing but the clothes they had on.

In Bekaa, the family has modest shelter, which they share with another refugee family. Although the family receives the essentials from World Vision and its partners, life is especially hard for refugee children who miss friends and family and may have frightening memories.

Which is why Mahmoud enjoys visits to the World Vision children’s centre, where he plays with his peers and feels a sense of normalcy and routine in a safe, child-friendly environment. “In [our] street, there are more than hundred children,” said Mahmoud’s mother. “They look forward to go[ing] to centre, otherwise they are on the streets with nothing to do.”

Give now to protect other children like Alhousanne and Mahmoud during emergencies

Case study | Acute malnutrition in Angola

Helping the most vulnerable children under 5

World Vision is among the few international agencies that have remained in Angola after the end of the civil war ten years ago. Despite Angola’s enormous oil wealth, nearly two thirds of rural households live on less than 1.75 dollars a day.

At the end of 2012, the government of Angola requested assistance in response to the drought that affected a large part of the country. With acute shortage of water for human consumption and dry season irrigation, alarming and increasing levels of severe acute child malnutrition and child mortality were detected.

Since February 2013 - and through the generous support of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department - World Vision, in partnership with UNCIEF and the government of Angola, has been working across four provinces (Bie’, Huambo, Kwanza Sul and Zaire) to help children under the age of five.

Through a community management of malnutrition approach, World Vision is using community activists to reach malnourished children and provide treatment with therapeutic feeding. Activist are also guiding mothers on how to identify malnutrition and seek treatment in time, as well as prevent malnutrition by using local available food to provide appropriate nutritional support to their children.

The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department supports relief activities for vulnerable people in crisis zones around the world.

Find out more about the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department.


World Vision is committed to being fully accountable to the children and communities we serve, as well as to our donors, supporters and peers in the aid work sector. Find out more »