More than 90 percent of those affected by natural disasters—earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, and volcanoes—live in developing countries. The poverty, high-density populations, and environmental degradation affecting most of the people in these countries make them the most vulnerable to disaster and least able to help themselves when it happens.
The complex humanitarian situations that arise from civil war and conflict, most often characterized by widespread violence, a breakdown of law and authority, and massive population movements, also affect the world's poorest countries disproportionately.
The primary responsibility for responding to disasters lies with the government of the affected country. Usually, the affected communities themselves and their governments provide a significant first response to emergencies.
When the needs of the affected communities exceed the capacity of their government to respond, Canada and governments around the world provide assistance through an established international humanitarian response system. This system includes:
Canada is committed to providing appropriate, timely, and effective humanitarian assistance, in line with the Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship (PDF, 24 KB, 1 page).
Canada's primary response to crises is financial support to organizations that make up the international humanitarian system. Based on an assessment of needs following a crisis, these organizations ensure that disaster-affected and conflict-affected people are physically safe, receive health care, and have food, water, and shelter. Four general principles guide these actions:
Over the past several years, Canada has made significant efforts to strengthen its own humanitarian response capacity, while working with other donor governments and key humanitarian partners to strengthen and broaden the international humanitarian system.
Canada has played a leadership role in the Good Humanitarian Donorship Initiative, which aims to improve donor response to humanitarian crises, and has taken a number of actions to improve the timeliness, flexibility, and equity of its humanitarian funding. These include:
Canada has also invested considerable efforts in strengthening the broader international humanitarian system. These include:
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