World emergencies

Natural disasters and emergencies can devastate the communities they hit, and the speed of a response can be – literally – a matter of life and death.

World Vision’s priority is to save lives, and often the first response is to distribute a range of items such as shelter kits, food, clean water and hygiene products.

Our work focuses on children, especially those left vulnerable because they have lost parents or carers, or have been left homeless.

Whenever possible we integrate our emergency relief responses with our development and advocacy activities, to ensure communities receive long-term support – such as income-generating projects – as they recover.

Be a change maker. Support our work in emergencies. Donate now

Different types of emergencies

World Vision responds to two main types of emergency: 

  • Rapid-onset disasters: earthquakes, cyclones, floods and tsunamis
  • Slow-onset disasters: droughts, famine, conflict and war

In large responses, World Vision works with the United Nations and other aid agencies to avoid duplication and make sure there are no gaps in the response.

How do we judge the need of an emergency?

Disasters or emergencies are assessed by World Vision as soon as it’s possible to do so; for example, when roads are considered safe to travel, or floods have receded. Then a response is worked out based on what people need and what damage has been done.

It will focus on helping those most in need and the most vulnerable, including children, women and the elderly, to ensure their basic needs are met and their human rights protected. 

Who is most affected by emergencies?

Poorer communities and countries aren’t the only ones hit by disasters, but they have fewer resources and less-robust infrastructure with which to deal with them. Australia is known as a country of terrible extremes and we’ve lived through some devastating emergencies, such as Black Saturday, but we have well-trained and resourced emergency services, some of the world’s best hospitals and doctors, high building standards, stable governments and countless other factors that help contribute to minimising the impact of emergencies and speeding up recovery.

Not every country is so lucky, and when emergencies hit there is little room for error, as:

  • Population pressures force people to live in unplanned communities with little or no infrastructure.
  • Many people live in risk-prone areas, such as earthquake zones and floodplains.
  • When people can’t afford proper building materials, houses are structurally unsound or unsafe. 

Being prepared and having strategies in place to respond to emergencies is just one way World Vision helps people most in need.

Previous emergency responses

  • Boxing Day Tsunami - India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand
  • Bucaramanga Floods - Colombia
  •  Kashmir Earthquake Relief - India


  • Horn of Africa drought 
  • Jogja Earthquake - Indonesia
  • Andhra Pradesh Floods - India
  • Mala Cyclone - Myanmar
  • Dili Relief - East Timor
  • Mudslide response - Philippines
  • Mozambique Floods Response
  • Iraqi Refugee Crisis
  • Solomon Islands Earthquake support
  • Earthquake emergency intervention - Peru
  • Mozambique Flood Response
  • China Snowstorm Response
  • Cyclone Nargis - Myanmar
  • India Tsunami Rehabilitation
  • Sri Lanka Crisis 
  • Cyclone Aila - Bangladesh
  • Ketsana Floods - Philippines
  • Sumatra Earthquake - Indonesia
  • Samoa Tsunami
  • Sindh Measles Outbreak - Pakistan
  • Return & resettlement of Internally Displaced People - Haiti
  • Syria Crisis
  • Angola Cholera Response
  • Sudan Flood Response
  • Somalia Polio Response
  • Typhoon Haiyan - Philippines