© Patrick Rohr

Humanitarian Response

Helvetas provides humanitarian response and development support to communities affected by disasters.
© Patrick Rohr

Helvetas engages in humanitarian response to help people in developing countries meet their most immediate needs during a crisis, making sure that vulnerable groups are prioritized for support and that the humanitarian aid is combined with long-term development activities.

Why humanitarian response matters

Poor people struggle with day-to-day survival, and can hardly invest in the future: for example, by saving extra food or reinforcing houses. They cannot choose where to live, and often end up building their homes on exposed coastlines, slopes and arid lands. Thus, disasters tend to take the heaviest toll on the poor.

In recent years there has been a further rise in the number and scale of disasters worldwide. One of the major causes is climate change. Droughts, floods and cyclones turn the hard-won development progress of many years and even decades to dust almost overnight.

«There is too much or too little water at any given time.»

Julia Randimbisoa, Helvetas' Country Director in Madagascar, speaks about the extreme weather that plagues the island nation

Our work

We are increasing our efforts to help our program countries deal with emergency situations. Helvetas strives to advance quickly from short-term humanitarian aid to long-term development cooperation during the relief, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phases after a disaster. When a major earthquake struck Nepal in 2015, in addition to helping the most affected communities rehabilitate, Helvetas trained local people to build earthquake-resistant houses. The new skill helps them not only to decrease earthquake damage risks, but also get additional income. 

Our Expertise and Services

Since 2013, we have steadily expanded our capacity to provide effective humanitarian aid in collaboration with partner organizations. We have also improved our risk analysis and established an emergency fund, which allows us to respond swiftly. Our Humanitarian Response team provides advisory services both to Helvetas and external clients.

Learn more and contact us

© Patrick Rohr / Helvetas

The Rohingya in Bangladesh: The World's Largest Refugee Camp

Since 2017, more than 730,000 men, women and children have fled violence in Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh. With almost one million Rohingya refugees, the refugee camp in the Cox's Bazar region is now the largest in the world.

A Forgotten Crisis: Drought Arising from Climate Change in Southern Ethiopia

While the world focuses on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, towards which Helvetas is also contributing support, other crises have not gone away. One is a major drought in the Horn of Africa that is having drastic consequences on the lives of pastoralist communities.

Connecting Refugees with Essential Resources in Moldova

Photojournalist Patrick Rohr visited the Moldovan border town of Palanca in late March. He documented the stories of refugees escaping Ukraine and saw firsthand how humanitarian aid from Switzerland is providing a much-needed respite for war-displaced people.

Selected Projects: Humanitarian Response