The American Red Cross: Delivering Services and Working with Partners in the USA and Around the World

  • Christy Feig


The faces of human suffering have captivated the headlines and the evening news in recent years, with a frequency and severity that has grabbed the world’s attention, and the major causes are equally shocking and familiar. In 2004, it was the tsunami. In 2005, it was Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Rita and the earthquake in Pakistan. In 2006, wildfires, storms, and tornadoes raced across the USA. In 2007, it was the earthquake in Peru and a cyclone in Bangladesh. And in 2008, it was cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the earthquake in southwest China. There are also more routine, yet smaller fires, floods, tornadoes, droughts, and countless other disasters that suddenly destroy the lives that many have worked so hard to build. When these small- and large-scale disasters occur, humanitarian organizations rush in to provide shelter (albeit often temporary), water, food, clothing, psychological assistance, and other means of relief to survivors. According to the Center for Research on the Epide­miology of Disasters (CRED), these organizations are busier than ever before, because natural disasters are increasing. From 1988 to 1998 there were on average less than 300 major disasters around the world every year. Between 1998 and 2007 that number rose to an average of more than 400 every year (Scheuren et al. 2008). At the end of this chapter we will discuss some of the trends that are contributing to this increase, but first, the challenge for humanitarian organizations responding to disasters or health emergencies is how to continue to respond effectively to a growing humanitarian need when resources are stretched thin. The key is to rely on the synergistic effect of partnerships.


National Society Disaster Response Humanitarian Organization Sanitation System Relief Supply 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

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