Recovery

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has a long history of supporting communities to recover from crises. We ensure that our humanitarian assistance helps communities ‘build back better’ and become more resilient to future shocks.

Humanitarian assistance can and must do more than just save lives and reduce suffering. Helping communities to recover is an essential part of our work and starts from the moment we begin responding to a disaster or crisis.

Disasters and crises affect people’s lives by destroying life, property and the ways in which people support themselves. Recovery is what individuals, communities and institutions start to do straight after a disaster or crisis, relying on their own skills, experience and resources to rebuild their lives. For some people, recovery will be relatively quick. For others it may take years.

Wherever possible, National Societies include support for community recovery in their emergency operations and consider how they can link this support with their longer-term development programmes.

This could be through work in disaster risk reduction, environmental sustainability, climate action, protection, gender and inclusion and other areas that will help communities not only survive but continue to thrive should another disaster or crisis occur.

Recovery programming helps our National Societies identify and address the risks and vulnerabilities that communities face, as well as their root causes. It can also provide opportunities for National Societies to improve their own preparedness and support their institutional development.

What sort of work do we do to support communities to recover?

Salvadoran Red Cross volunteers support families with cash assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic

Salvadoran Red Cross volunteers support families with cash assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo: Salvadoran Red Cross

Recovery programming can include any sector (for instance health, shelter or food security). It is delivered in a way that supports people’s recovery while also addressing the risks and vulnerabilities that communities themselves prioritise.

We support communities to:

  • Recover and strengthen their livelihoods, for instance through cash assistance or by providing tools and equipment
  • Rebuild shelter and housing in a way that makes them safer and better protected
  • Repair or rebuild community infrastructure, including health and water and sanitation facilities
  • Build their capacity to improve their own health, for instance by using our community-based health and first aid approach in recovery programming
  • Improve social cohesion and look after people’s longer-term psychosocial support needs
  • Improve preparedness for, and resilience to, future shocks through disaster risk reduction programmes

Principles of our recovery work

An Iraqi Red Crescent Society psychosocial volunteer talks with a family who escaped Mosul to the safety of a relief camp near Dohuk.

An Iraqi Red Crescent Society psychosocial volunteer talks with a family who escaped Mosul to the safety of a relief camp near Dohuk.

Photo: IFRC/Joe Cropp

  1. Communities must be at the centre of their own recovery
  2. When supporting community recovery, National Societies should build back better and work towards safer, more resilient and inclusive communities
  3. Recovery starts early, and so should recovery programming
  4. Recovery is about much more than just reconstruction
  5. Communities can be supported to recover more quickly and effectively with integrated programmes that address different sectors together
  6. Recovery requires close coordination with government, including local government

Watch: our recovery work in action