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Tools and guides

Disasters and the local church

Guidelines for church leaders in disaster-prone areas

2011 Available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Nepali and Bengali (Bangla)

Cash distribution programme in Haiti

Cash distribution (money from Tearfund) at AFCA Camp, run by Tearfund partner CEEH, Port-au-Prince Photo: Richard Hanson/Tearfund

This popular book is written for church leaders in disaster-prone regions, affected by hazards including floods, windstorms, droughts or earthquakes.

Its purpose is to increase understanding of disasters and give guidance on the practical things a church and its community can do to prepare for a disaster, respond effectively to it and reduce the risk of it happening again.

Many churches exist in disaster-prone environments. 

Some of those disasters occur suddenly, for example earthquakes and landslides, while others – for example prolonged drought – develop more slowly over weeks or months. Many disasters are weather-related, for example cyclones and floods, and there is evidence that these disaster types are becoming more frequent and more severe as climate change affects more parts of the world. 

Sudden disasters require an immediate response, and the church is well positioned to provide this. It has its buildings, its land and its people – three most valuable resources. The church is also well equipped to help disaster survivors to cope with the emotional distress of losing family, friends and possessions. It can provide spiritual comfort, emotional support and hope for the future, irrespective of race, religion, gender or nationality. 

Emergency response is not the only way of addressing disasters. Much can be done to prepare for natural hazards and to reduce their impact. This chapter explains the disaster cycle – the sequence of activities which usually follows one disaster (emergency response and rehabilitation) and leads on to mitigation and preparedness for the next. Biblical examples are given for each of these categories.


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