Responding to Emergencies

Every year, emergencies, like floods, famines, earthquakes and wars, put millions of lives in danger. With Britain’s Jewish community behind us, we respond to these disasters by providing emergency aid as well as supporting longer term recovery efforts.

In the past five years, we have helped over 165,000 people in 14 countries to survive and recover from life-changing events.

Please check our news pages for the most up-to-date information.

Our recent emergency response includes:


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Distribution of shelter kits

In March 2019 Tropical Cyclone Idai devastated Central Mozambique and parts of Zimbabwe and Malawi, killing more than 1,000 people and affecting 3 million, making it one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit Africa on record. 

Extreme winds, Tsunami-like waves, and storm surges battered the coastal areas of Mozambique and flooded the region, destroying hundreds of thousands of homes and two million acres of crops. 

With the support of the British Jewish community we launched a rapid humanitarian response, partnering with a trusted local NGO, ADPP and ensuring we were amongst the first to access international emergency aid stocks.   

We have distributed emergency aid to 19,800 people

  • Our support has included shelter kits and cooking equipment for 6000 people.
  • Essential items such as mosquito nets, jars for water storage, pots and plates to a further 6000 people.
  • Dignity and Hygiene kits to 300 female headed households including sanitary products and underwear. 

  • Food packages including rice, beans, flour, oil and sugar to 6000 people. 

With the onset of the pandemic, we took action to prevent already vulnerable communities from being heavily impacted by the disease. We worked with our local partners ADPP to establish a response to the pandemic, focusing on awareness raising and sanitation – both of which are key in remote areas. We were already working in Sofala province, providing assistance to victims of recent flooding, so we were able to begin rolling out our Covid-19 programmes quickly. We trained field staff on Covid-safe practices, distributed information leaflets around the community, and set about awareness raising at important community locations like markets and bus stops. We also distributed handwashing facilities, soap and over 2,000 masks to those in need. Fortunately, our close relationships with our partners in the country and our continued presence there meant we were able to be very flexible with our programmes and adapt quickly to the emerging crisis.

Mozambique: Amelia's Story

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Amelia with her youngest child

Amelia and her four young children were fast asleep when the cyclone struck. Water began pouring through the roof of their home, waking Amelia with a start and giving her just enough time to grab her kids and run before the whole building collapsed.

Her nearby farmland was deluged, destroying her crops of maize, tomatoes and other veg that she relies upon to feed her family. 

Her husband, a seasonal farmer, was away working so Amelia found herself and her children alone, starving and with no shelter or access to sanitation facilities.

Within days, we were able to provide the family with shelter and kitchen kits.  Amelia said "This will help me so much, I didn’t have a roof to put over my head so I will use the tarpaulin as a cover for myself and my children and now that I have a small pot I can cook for them and share some food with my neighbours.  It's not my home back but it's a start, thank you". 


Myanmar Monsoon Emergency

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Submerged home

More than 70 people have died and nearly 100,000 are displaced following severe monsoon rains in Myanmar. People have been forced to flee from their homes and food reserves and crops have been destroyed. Rescue efforts have been hindered by mud and further downpours.

Thanks to funding from The START Network, we have launched a rapid response to get food supplies to people in need. With our local partner, Metta Development Foundation, we will be targeting 17 villages in Kayin State and 7 villages in Mon state. We aim reach around 12,000 people, providing enough basic food rations to survive for one month. 

Our Covid-19 Response:

Across all of our portfolios, we quickly distributed funding to our international partners. We prioritised communities where the situation was already difficult – with high numbers of vulnerable people, conflict and crises – to try and alleviate extreme hardship. Read a snapshot of how we adapted some of our programming in two extremely high-risk countries – Belarus and Mozambique.


Longer term recovery work:

Following our initial emergency response we continue to work with the people impacted, drawing on our livelihoods expertise to help them recover and rebuild their lives, their homes and their businesses.


We are supporting 11,250 people who lost their livelihoods in Cyclone Idai to rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient. Working with small farming clubs, we are providing access to seeds and livestock, infrastructure reconstruction such as water tanks, and technical support. This will help communities to grow back faster and stronger.


Flooding and liquefaction devastated the coastal communities of Central Sulawesi in September 2018.  We are working with 900 fishers, farmers, and small business owners with financial support and training to help them recover and improve their livelihoods.


Following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico in Sept 2017,  thousands were made homeless. We partnered with local Jewish NGO Cadena to provide temporary shelter and then worked with Construyendo to completely rebuild the homes of four vulnerable families living in Puebla – one of the most severely impacted regions of Mexico. 

Mexico: Building a new home in a weekend

Our emergency response has ensured:

people have been assisted with evacuations, food support, and fuel to survive the winter since the outbreak of conflict in Eastern Ukraine
people in Northern Kenya have received cash allowances to help them survive the drought in East Africa.
farmers who lost their livelihoods in 2015 earthquake in Nepal have been helped to increase their yields and profit from their activities so that they could rebuild their destroyed homes and establish better lives
unaccompanied minors stranded in Greece have received social and legal support
50 homes have been repaired in Haiti after they were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew

Our approach:

After disasters occur, World Jewish Relief responds rapidly, reaching out to local partners on the ground and designing critical emergency and recovery interventions.  

  • All of our humanitarian responses are provided in partnership with capable local agencies who have passed our high standards of scrutiny.  We believe local agencies know their communities, can access the most vulnerable people, understand the cultural context and will be there when international agencies have left.
  • We focus our relief efforts on the provision of shelter, food and hygiene and our recovery efforts on the rebuilding of peoples’ livelihoods.
  • We prioritise the needs of women and girls like Amelia who are particularly vulnerable post disaster.
  • We support the increased provision of cash-transfers as a humanitarian response. 
  • We operate a Disaster Preparedness Initiative establishing global partnerships in vulnerable counties so that we are ready to respond if  disaster occurs.