The RESPOND Coalition was formed in 2012 to increase the effectiveness of the collaborative response of churches in the City of Cape Town and surrounds to large scale disaster incidents. The coalition comprises a number of churches and Christian non-profit organisations with a commitment to responding to disaster incidents collaboratively. 

RESPOND seeks to work towards:

  • Centrally coordinated responses to disaster incidents of greater than 500 people within its service areas;
  • Improved collaborative church-based responses to smaller disaster incidents; and
  • Increased disaster mitigation and preparedness capacity of churches

Downloadable Crisis-Response Kits

COVID-19 Specific Initiatives

How do we RESPOND?

RESPOND is organised in ever-englarging entities so as to match the scale and nature of disasters as they occur. 

A Disaster-Ready Church, the smallest organising unit, will respond to specific incidents affecting less than 30 people. These incidents would typically either be within a 0-25km radius of the church’s building or in an area where the church has specific relationship (eg – a more materially resourced church might always partner with a less materially resourced church in disasters affecting them, or might mobilise around a neighbouring community or take part in a denominational response). In a larger incident, this Church would likely play the role of Lead Church. Disaster-Ready Churches do not have to be established for a zone or regional response to take place. Also important to note: Local Churches which are not classed as “Disaster-Ready Churches” play a key role during disasters in mobilising their congregations to give time, information and resources. This is the strength of the coalition. Your church can be a member of RESPOND without having to be fully Disaster-Ready). 

A Disaster-Ready Zone* responds to specific incidents affecting more than 30 people, and less than 500. These incidents would typically fall within the specific zone or in wider area (25 – 50km radius) where one particular zone is able to mobilise and support another zone or where a specific denomination or group of churches are working together across specific disaster-zone boundaries. In general, RESPOND zones are organised according to the Metro or District’s Disaster Risk Management Centre’s demarcated zones. In general, a zone would be identified as “disaster-ready” when it has a minimum of 5 disaster-ready churches as well as a number of adhoc giving churches. Zones do not have to be established in order for a regional response to take place. *For COVID-19 responses, we are organising these zones according to the Department of Health’s Districts and Sub-Districts in order to align our response more closely to that of the over-all Health response. Each District (in the Western Cape) and Sub-District (in the Cape Metro) will have an area coordinator who will help coordinate COVID-19 responses within their area. 

A Disaster-Ready Region is often the first group of role players to emerge. In response to large-scale disasters, key role-players will begin to emerge from churches, denominations and NGOs who recognise the need for a more coordinated response. In Cape Town, the RESPOND coalition emerged in this way and then began to drill deeper into building capacity by zones and individual churches. A regional response would take place when more than 500 people are affected.

Role-players in a Disaster Response

While COVID-19 responses are obviously stretching our imaginations and systems into new shapes, RESPOND has historically collaborated in responding to disasters by appointing 3 key role-players which all other members assist.

Incident Coordinator: Once a disaster site has been declared safe for stakeholders to enter, the Incident Coordinator will report to the disaster’s Joint Operations Committee and, from then on, fully participates in all stakeholder meetings that pertain to the incident. The Incident Coordinator updates the Liaison Co-ordinator with all the various outcomes of these meetings which are designed to determine the role and responsibilities of each stakeholder on site. Through this interaction, the Incident Coordinator helps to identify a specific need that no other stakeholder is covering. This information is then relayed to the Liaison Coordinator and other key role-players for consideration.

Liaison Coordinator: The task of the Liaison Coordinator is to gather all the pieces of data as received from the Incident Coordinator and formulate necessary updates to the core RESPOND group and ongoing communication with wider partners. In conjunction with the core RESPOND group, the Liaison Coordinator participates in determining
the specific response the coalition will play in serving those affected by the disaster.

Lead Church: The Lead Church acts as a coalition hub where physical donations can be delivered to. The Lead Church is identified by the core RESPOND team out of member Churches and those who have done some basic training towards being Disaster-Ready Churches. Where deemed appropriate, funding that has been raised for the specific incident, can also can be channeled through the Lead Church in order to purchase bulk items for assembling disaster-response kits*. Depending on the nature and scope of the response, the Lead Church may call for and/or host volunteers to assist in the sorting and distributing of disaster-response kits. In consultation with the core RESPOND group, the Lead Church will advise the opening and closing dates when it is able to receive donations in lieu of the incident. The Lead Church is also responsible for reporting on the final outcome of the distribution of resources.

*As the current convenor of the RESPOND Coalition, The Warehouse traditionally collects all financial donations towards a response and provides these to the Lead Church. This is to ensure that all donations are fully tax-deductible, audited and accounted for. 

If you or your church would like to partake in any training in order to play these roles, please contact respond@warehouse.org.za and we will organise that with you. We will also advertise any upcoming training in our newsletters and on our Facebook page.

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