Understanding recovery

Relief, recovery and resilience

Following a disaster, relief work is about providing life-saving assistance. The rapid provision of food, water, shelter and medical care is vital to prevent further loss of life and alleviate suffering.

The British Red Cross has three emergency response teams permanently on call and ready to respond to disasters anywhere in the world. The logistics team specialises in the distribution of relief goods such as food, blankets and hygiene kits.

The mass sanitation and hygiene promotion team is key to reducing the spread of disease and saving lives in the aftermath of disaster.

Finally, the household economic security team helps families quickly cover their essential needs and expenditures and stand on their own feet again.


RecoveryOnce immediate needs have been met, people need help rebuilding their lives. We help families become self-sufficient following a disaster through programmes that restore their livelihoods and shelter and provide basic healthcare, including water and sanitation facilities.

Our programmes help people by providing cash or materials. Where possible, we help people re-establish their pre-existing livelihoods, but if necessary we also provide vocational training to help them start up new businesses.

The Red Cross’ recovery work is based on communities participating in their own recovery, including identifying and working with the most vulnerable people. We also take into account the local context, including health and care, social, economic and cultural factors. The community determines the pace of the programme – what they need and when they need it.


As well as helping people get back on their feet, another key element of recovery is strengthening community resilience to future disasters.

We work with high-risk communities to identify hazards and reduce their potential impact. We support them in making plans to prepare and carry out training so if another disaster strikes, people will know what to do.
© British Red Cross 2009
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British Red Cross, UK Office, 44 Moorfields, London EC2Y 9AL Phone: 0844 871 11 11 Fax: 020 7562 2000
The British Red Cross Society, incorporated by Royal Charter 1908, is a charity registered in England and Wales (220949) and Scotland (SC037738).
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