Providing food in emergencies

Children carrying CARE food packages home after a food distribution in the Philippines

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Nearly a billion people are living on the edge of an emergency. It’s called hunger.

How would it feel if you had to go to bed hungry every night? If every day of your life, you worried if you could provide enough food for your family? If you had to watch your children fail to grow and thrive because they didn’t have enough to eat?

This is the daily reality for every seventh person in the world – and for one in every four children in developing countries.

Women and girls are particularly at risk: when food is scarce, they are the first to go short, or even go without.

The fact is that there’s enough food in the world to feed everyone, but not everyone gets enough food to eat.

That’s an injustice. And it has to stop.

CARE works to provide food and nutritional support to people in desperate need. And we work to help people find sustainable ways to make sure they know where their next meal is coming from, and can watch their families grow and thrive.

A woman and child with packets of seeds in South Sudan
Nyaboth Kalang with seeds provided by CARE to people affected by the conflict in South Sudan. “I have seven children. The youngest here is one-and-a-half years old. If I am lucky, I find food for him once a day,” she said. CARE distributes seeds such as cowpeas, tomato, eggplant, and sorghum to households in Jonglei state, one of the areas most affected by the conflict.

Saving lives in emergencies

Hunger and malnutrition are often caused by natural disasters and conflict or a combination of the two. Prolonged drought may destroy crops and cause food prices to skyrocket, or violent conflict may force people to flee their homes and livelihoods.

At times like these, so many forces come together at once that countries and regions become gripped in a major food crisis. In 2012, people across the Sahel region of Africa endured a food crisis that affected 18.7 million. In 2011, a devastating drought in the Horn of Africa meant more than 12 million people were in need of immediate food aid.

During both emergencies, CARE was there to help, providing life-saving food, nutrition, and medical care for hungry and malnourished people, especially children.

Every year, we respond to around 30 emergencies, from large-scale crises like South Sudan, to helping people affected by seasonal drought, storms or floods, or people displaced by conflict or political instability.

Farmers in a field of crops in Timor-Leste
Ines da Costa, leader of a farmer’s group in rural Liquica, Timor-Leste, that participated a CARE agriculture and nutrition programme

Finding long-term solutions

Emergency food aid can save lives – but it is not a long-term solution. So we work with communities around the world to help them develop reliable, long-term methods of reducing their vulnerability to hunger and malnutrition:

  • supporting farming households to grow enough food each year and ensure that local markets are well stocked each season
  • working with communities to manage natural resources so that they are less at risk from the effects of climate change such as unreliable rainfall or unseasonal weather events
  • strengthening livelihoods so that people have a reliable income to be able to purchase the food they need
  • improving access to basic financial services so people can save money against future needs, or have access to affordable loans when required
  • providing nutritional advice to mothers and extra nutritional support to children so that they eat the food they need to remain healthy and to thrive