The link between poverty, powerlessness and disasters | ActionAid UK

Bijay Kumar

Head of International Emergencies & Crises ActionAid

ActionAid is not impartial in emergency situations. We take sides with the poorest and most vulnerable, because in every emergency, it is the poorest and most vulnerable – mainly women and children – who are hardest hit.

The evidence is there. When the Haiti earthquake struck, more than 300,000 people were killed. In Chile, a few months later, an earthquake which was 500 times more intense killed only 100 people. This fact shows starkly the impact that poverty has upon the effect of disasters.

Poor people have limited capacity to cope with, and take much longer to recover from, the impact of disasters, because they lack the social protection enjoyed by wealthier individuals.

A market trader in Zambia where multinationals are dodging taxes

This link between poverty and vulnerability is precisely why ActionAid prioritises people living in poverty and exclusion.  If you think about it, it’s logical:

How can we address the relationship between poverty, powerlessness and disasters, without looking at the underlying factors involved?

To do this, we must be political, working alongside communities to analyse and address the root causes of the poverty and injustice which define their lives.  ActionAid is clear that we do take sides – not with governments or warring factions — but with the poorest and most vulnerable.


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