Credit: ADB/Nepal
A group of women and children in Nepal standing beside the wreckage of a house

Disaster recovery and response

Epidemics, conflicts and natural disasters often have devastating impacts on health and lives. For people living in already fragile and low-resource context, such unexpected events make them particularly vulnerable to disease and/or death. Health systems that are still fairly weak come under further strain and struggle to cope with the increased demand. Shocks like this can cause huge setbacks to any country’s health achievements and progress.

We support governments in emergency and fragile contexts to restore provision of and access to basic health services, and to make health systems more resilient by:

  • Facilitating effective coordination and planning, so that donors, humanitarian agencies government staff and local partners work together to ensure effective allocation of much-needed resources.
  • Supporting evidence generation and analysis to inform an effective emergency response. This helps governments and donors understand the devastation caused by emergencies and informs decisions on what interventions should be prioritised.
  • Identifying critical steps towards recovery based on timely evidence and input from local experts and civil society. We support design and planning of longer-term investment to build resilient health systems that are better able to withstand future crises.
  • Reaching ‘hard-to-reach’ populations in remote areas, particularly women and children, who are often most affected by poverty, conflict and lack of access to services.
  • Developing health financing solutions that improve the flow of money into health systems so that it can reach frontline services.
  • Re-designing and strengthening health infrastructure to become resilient to multiple hazards, and include renewable climate-friendly technologies that can help vital services to continue functioning during emergencies.

In Nepal, we worked with the Ministry of Health and Population after the 2015 earthquakes, to support the planning and coordination of assistance from relief and aid agencies. We led assessments of damage to buildings, conducting repairs and maintenance and helped restore the functionality of essential health care services. We helped the government to build back better by strengthening institutional and individual capacities to respond to the needs of the affected population. We are currently building government capacity to ensure health facility construction is more resilient to future hazards. We are also overseeing the retrofitting of two major hospitals in Bhaktapur and Pokhara. In 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic breakout, we supported the government’s immediate response by transforming temporary hospital buildings to COVID-19 wards and meet the demands for life-saving equipment.

In Sierra Leone, we worked with the Ministry of Health and Laboratory Technical Working Group during the Ebola epidemic, to coordinate partners in the diagnosis of patients. We provided regular data on the time it took to provide test results and addressed issues causing delays. Quicker isolation and treatment of patients helped reduce transmission and led to more efficient use of treatment resources. We assessed laboratory capacity across the country to inform Ebola recovery plans as well as National and District Laboratory Strategic Plans. It resulted in a Laboratory Information System which feeds into national surveillance systems, essential for the prevention of future outbreaks of endemic diseases.

In Yemen, our voucher specialists worked with a local NGO counterpart, Yamaan, throughout the conflict to deliver life-saving primary and emergency care for women. Safe Motherhood and Family Planning vouchers were distributed to women in need of services which can be redeemed nearby in safe, reliable health facilities. Vouchers helped improve uptake of antenatal services, caesarean sections, family planning counselling, short-term methods and/or long-acting contraceptive methods, and safe childbirth by trained health care workers.


  • 67% increase in the number of women accessing antenatal care in Yemen through our voucher scheme
  • Turnaround time for Ebola testing reduced from 35 hours to 13 hours in Western Area, Sierra Leone
  • Essential health services restored at 851 facilities in 14 earthquake-affected districts in Nepal.

Our experts

  • Sara Nam, PhD
    Sara Nam is a public health professional with close to 20 years’ experience providing technical assistance to and implementing health programmes and conducting research and programme evaluations. Sara is a qualified midwife, bringing technical expertise in the design and delivery of maternal and newborn health services, health planning and management, strengthening human resources and improving quality of care.
  • Krishna Sharma
    Krishna strongly believes in teamwork and transitional leadership. He has over 20 years’ experience in development, covering a wide range of interdisciplinary programmes. He is the Deputy Team Leader for the Nepal Health Sector Support Programme (NHSSP) and is currently working as Acting Team Leader. His experience includes leadership and management, OD/HR management, finance and administration, and partnership and sub-grant management.
  • Shanti Mahendra
    Shanti is a health systems specialist with over 20 years’ experience in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in maternal and newborn health and survival. This includes complex sector-wide budget support programmes, cutting-edge research and multi-country monitoring/evaluation projects. Shanti applies her grassroots experience to provide strategic technical direction, supporting programmes to be both evidence-driven and locally-rooted.

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