Delivering humanitarian aid


We've been responding to humanitarian emergencies and disasters around the world since 1945, providing urgently needed immediate relief and long-term support.

Responding to the refugee crisis in Europe
Responding to the refugee crisis in Europe

Humanitarian work is central to Christian Aid’s identity and part of our core business. We were founded in response to the refugee crisis in Europe after the Second World War, and now, 70 years later, we are responding to a similar refugee crisis.

Throughout our history, we have intervened in some of the worst disasters our world has faced – the Ethiopian famine, the South Asian tsunami, the Ebola outbreak – as well as in forgotten or protracted crises such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We commit almost a third of our total income to our humanitarian work, and every year Christian Aid reaches millions of disaster-affected people.

Our approach

Our approach is founded on a vision that empowers local partners and disaster-affected communities to decide what is needed and how best it can be delivered. 

Through our humanitarian work, we aim to:

  • Significantly reduce the loss of lives and assets of vulnerable people.
  • Enable people to manage risks and face disasters with dignity and access humanitarian aid safely.
  • We champion an approach that integrates preparedness, response, disaster risk reduction, advocacy and development in order to deliver programmes that respond to the multiple and complex risks faced by the communities we aim to assist.

Partnership model

Our partnership model is central to our response. We strengthen the capacity of local organisations and civil society to anticipate, prepare for, respond to and reduce risks.

They are there before a disaster strikes, they know their communities and they will be there long after the international community has departed.


Christian Aid collaborates in all areas of its humanitarian work with a wide range of partners and coalitions, in order to ensure our work is comprehensive and well coordinated, and that the voice of disaster-affected people is always heard. 

'I feel wealthy because when it rains, I don’t get wet. Everyone came together to help build my house and this has strengthened our relationships.'
Shelter beneficiary, Haiti

World Humanitarian Summit 2016

The May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit was a generational opportunity to reform the service the humanitarian system provides to people affected by crisis.

We demanded a shift in the balance of power in the humanitarian system toward the Global South, putting affected populations in the driving seat in terms of the design and implementation of humanitarian interventions, and greater investment in preparedness and resilience before crisis strikes.

Read our full commitments to the World Humanitarian Summit 2016 (PDF).

Progress so far

The Summit made encouraging progress on these themes. The UN Secretary General called for a shift in the way humanitarian aid is delivered, including by reinforcing rather than replacing local efforts, and by investing in disaster preparedness.

Other commitments included:

  • pledges to channel 25% of funding directly to national organisations by 2020 – up from the current 0.3%
  • ensuring people receiving aid help to make decisions that affect their lives
  • to significantly increase resources for prevention, mitigation, preparedness and early action.

We will now be pressing donors and agencies to deliver on their commitments.

Latest reports from CharterForChange on HR and staffing during humanitarian emergencies (April 2017): 

Time for HR to step up: national perspectives on transforming surge capacity (PDF)

Time to move on: national perspectives on transforming surge capacity (PDF)

‘Christian Aid spearheaded work among a network of NGOs that provided high quality policy recommendations that have, to a large extent, been picked up in the global process. This is valuable for the issue Christian Aid works on, but also in showing the value of engaged NGO work.’
Coalition partner


Christian Aid’s strong track record has enabled us to continue the trend of increased breadth and depth in our humanitarian programming over recent years.

In 2015/16 we responded to the earthquake in Nepal while continuing our work in Syria, Iraq and Gaza with war-affected communities. We also continued to help people recover from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone and supported lower profile emergencies in Malawi, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Pakistan. 

  • In 2015/16 we delivered 33 emergency responses in 25 countries, reaching an estimated 3 million people affected by disasters.
  • We spent £28.9m in 2015/16 on our humanitarian work, up £2.8m from the previous year. 
  • Working with local partners and suppliers, we launched a rapid response to the Nepal earthquake, carrying out assessements within the first day and a half, a mobile health post was set up in two days, and we started providing food and medical support on the third day in Gorkha (the epicentre). 
  • As an active member of the Start Network we responded to 10 smaller, under-funded emergencies, thanks to the pioneering Start Fund.
  • We have driven forward innovative practice in disaster risk reduction and resilience work, most notably in conflict settings.
  • Through our humanitarian advocacy work, we have been recognised as a leading voice in promoting the role of local and national NGOs in humanitarian action.  

In depth information is available in our Annual Report 2015/16 (PDF)

Humanitarian emergencies that we are responding to


This policy-to-practice paper provides the humanitarian HR community with practical guidance. It was commissioned by four Charter4Change signatories - CAFOD, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and Tearfund as part of their work with the Start DEPP.
This study aims to research national NGO experiences of surge recruitment for international NGOs during humanitarian emergencies. It looks at good practice, impact, and recommendations for actions.
In 2015/16 Christian Aid reached millions of people globally, improving lives, responding to conflict and disasters, and influencing decision-makers.
An external evaluation of Christian Aid's DEC-supported response to Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines. Assessing achievements, outcomes and lessons for future emergency responses.
Christian Aid's management response to the external evaluation of Christian Aid’s DEC Typhoon Haiyan rehabilitation and resilience building programme.
A summary of the year’s work, covering achievements, challenges, new thinking and progress.
Investment in building resilience, reducing disaster risk and strengthening local capacity to respond saves lives and speeds recovery from emergencies.
Lessons from South Sudan demonstrate why involving and strengthening national actors is the only approach that is truly effective and sustainable. A joint research report from Christian Aid, Oxfam, Tearfund, and CAFOD and Trocaire in Partnership.
Christian Aid outlines the fundamental challenges the summit must address and the priorities for the humanitarian sector.
This study examines the potential of partnerships with national non-governmental organisations in humanitarian response, based on lessons from four major emergency settings.
Some of the challenges identified in research into partnership working in the Philippines during the humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan.
This study recommends how faith leaders can support Ebola recovery in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and discusses the broader role of faith in humanitarian response.
ACT Alliance Humanitarian Policy and Practice Advisory Group Position Paper for the World Humanitarian Summit
A reflection by the ACT Alliance Humanitarian Policy and Practice Advisory Group on the unique role of faith-based organisations in humanitarian crises.
A paper to inform discussion about the emerging tension between building local capacity and managing programmatic risk.
After an emergency, cash transfer programming supports markets because they are critical in humanitarian response, supplying goods and services for relief, recovery and reconstruction.
Christian Aid’s partners in Haiti distributed cash to people affected by the earthquake. This paper highlights the successes and challenges of their approaches.
This research seeks to contribute evidence for the value of introducing accountability mechanisms into projects, and demonstrate the importance of promoting them.
A participatory vulnerability and capacity assessment (PVCA) empowers poor people to analyse their problems and suggest their own solutions.
Case studies from Christian Aid’s Building Disaster Resilient Communities programme and preparedness projects in Asia, Africa and Central America.
An analysis of the impact Christian Aid’s disaster risk reduction and resilient livelihoods work in Burkina Faso.
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Want to know more? If you have any enquiries about our work, please contact us