Natural disasters and catastrophes have always and will always continue to plague the world. Taking up a career in this most needed field can often seem daunting, with so many organizations, regions, countries, and populations to choose from. However, these jobs are often the most rewarding. When disaster and crisis hit, there is an urgent need for a massive, coordinated reaction from the international community, often with very short notice. This is where disaster relief organizations and confederations of NGOs and INGOs come in to pay. While most national and local governments will certainly have response protocols and systems in place to cope with the destruction, many disasters and crises require help from the outside.
The need for international assistance affects the entire world, and relief is made possible by the efforts of many thousands of organizations. Dedicating their energy to helping those in need and generally making the world a better place is the mission and mantra of most humanitarian agencies. While the following list is certainly not exhaustive, it does highlight several large international organizations that have made strides in the field of disaster and crisis response. These are important issues that, unfortunately, will never cease to plague the Earth but, with help from well-organized responses and the hardworking people who deliver them, progress can certainly be made. The following organizations in particular are known to be some of the frontrunners in the disaster and crisis response field, and recent graduates or others looking to find a job in the field can begin their search with them.
Over 90 percent of deaths related to disasters occur in developing countries. World Vision is one of the international humanitarian organizations who work in many of these often hard to reach places. They are known for responding to disaster and conflict with speed, saving many lives in the process. In addition to providing disaster responders and coordinators both on the ground and in country offices, World Vision provides supplies and supports sustainable, long-term recovery projects that assist the people of concern in rebuilding their lives. Team members may work on immediate response teams, with those closest to the disaster responding within hours. Within days, the global rapid response team is deployed to the field to provide expertise in their respective areas. World Vision operates on a “first in, last out” philosophy, and is a great place to work for those wishing to contribute to disaster and crisis relief.
For the last century, Save the Children has met the world’s unprecedented challenges with generosity, knowledge, and assistance. The organization has grown to have country offices around the world, directly reaching tens of millions of people each year. Though they assist communities in general during and after disaster and conflict, they are the premiere organization for considering the needs of children, who are often the most vulnerable after crisis hits. They are known to be among the first responders to natural disasters around the world, and they stay as long as it takes to assist children and families in recovering from their losses and building resilience to move forward. Save the Children assists in many sectors, from WASH and education to child protection and health.
Oxfam International is technically a confederation of over 18 NGOs, which, for job seekers, means more opportunities with more organizations. They operate with partners in over 90 countries, helping those who need it most after natural disasters and crises. When responding to emergency situations, Oxfam teams aim to provide clean drinking and bathing water, food, protection, and sanitation facilities. With such an extensive network and a long history, Oxfam reports that they are responding to over 30 emergencies at any given time of the year. Positions can be found within their international secretariat or with their affiliates.
The International Red Cross responds to disasters and crises around the world. Staff within this organization also go wherever they are needed, which often includes dangerous and unstable environments. They provide water, shelter, clothes, meals, and sanitation mechanisms to people in both the immediate aftermath of a disaster as well as during the recovery phase. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ‘parent’ organization, established the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund in 1985 in order to provide the necessary and immediate financial support that Red Cross societies need in order to respond to disasters effectively. Positions within the network can range from collecting goods and coordinating from abroad to responding on the ground in the field. The Red Cross also places a high priority on family reunification, one of the most important factors for mental well-being in beneficiaries who have survived a disaster or crisis.
CARE International provides emergency response and support staff to over 94 countries around the globe. Like Oxfam, CARE is actually a confederation, with 14 member organizations who work together to mitigate and end the poverty that is so prevalent after a conflict or natural disaster. Additionally, CARE staff in the field place an emphasis on disaster preparedness, particularly in areas of the world that are so prone and susceptible to experiencing natural disasters regularly. These preparedness programs and initiatives play a critical role in the potential economic, structural, and psychosocial outcomes for a community during and after a disaster.