Disaster relief Helping vulnerable communities become more resilient

At C&A we truly believe in strengthening communities. This is an integral part of our culture and legacy – it’s who we are as a brand. Many of our operations are in countries that suffer from a disproportionate number of natural disasters every year. 


C&A’s first global humanitarian partnership

In 2015, C&A and C&A Foundation developed our first global humanitarian partnership, collaborating with Save the Children to support millions of children and families across the world. Our joint initiatives are focused in two areas: disaster preparedness and immediate, lifesaving emergency response to humanitarian crises.

Save the Children’s emergency response work supports interventions that enable people affected by disasters to lead decent and dignified lives. We focus on fast and flexible funding that is used to seed-fund operations of Save the Children and to attract other funds to the response.

The resilience and disaster risk reduction (DRR) work funded by our partnership focuses on urban communities in five countries. It aims to increase the resilience of these communities, helping them to be prepared for natural disasters and everyday risks. To date, we have helped Save the Children’s work in 48 informal settlements and 75 schools to build the capacity of individuals and organisations. Together, we have also scaled smaller initiatives by helping governments implement policies at a national level.

Read more about this partnership on the C&A Foundation website

Why focus on disaster relief?

  • For every dollar spent on DRR measures, $7 can be saved in post-disaster recovery [SOURCE: Asian Development Bank].
  • Women and children are 14 times more likely to die in disasters than adult men [SOURCE: UNISDR].

Our 2017 performance

Helping children and families across the world

Over the past three years, C&A Foundation has provided partnership funding of €10.8 million. This funding has assisted over four million people worldwide. C&A raises additional funds through cause-related marketing and other campaigns in stores, and with customers and employees, in Europe and Mexico – a total of over €3 million since 2015.

Between March 2017 and February 2018, C&A Europe and C&A Mexico raised a total of €870,800 for Save the Children, through cause-related marketing, emergency appeals and other initiatives.

Sharing what works 

In 2017, C&A Foundation and Save the Children continued to lead and disseminate research to build evidence in the field of the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) research, with a suite of 10 research projects under three themes:

  1. Policy and the enabling environment;
  2. Hazard impacts on education; and
  3. Solutions for child-centred risk reduction and school safety.

Each of the five countries we work in faces distinct challenges. In Bangladesh, for example, we focus on risk management for women, children and garment workers, while in Mexico and China we focus on school safety. Save the Children’s country teams share what they learn with each other, so they can create an overall framework of learning that they and others can build on for the future.

Convening and inspiring others

One partnership to improve the resilience of women and children can only go so far. We want to make an impact that is greater than the sum of our parts. We share lessons learned from the five country programmes within Save the Children, and also with the global disaster risk reduction sector. Creating a global and regional dialogue to strengthen the sector is an important focus of this programme.

Read more in the C&A Foundation 2017 Annual Report

Responding to the refugee crisis in Myanmar

In 2017, the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis unfolded in Bangladesh when nearly 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar across the border. 60% of the refugees are children and highly vulnerable.

C&A is deeply concerned by the ongoing persecution against the Rohingya people in Myanmar and we strongly condemn the human rights violations that have been reported. Along with other Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) brands, we sent an urgent appeal to the President of Myanmar over the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State. We also communicated our deep concern through the Dutch Textile Covenant.

For several years, we have been purchasing products produced in Myanmar. We have created trustworthy and long-term relationships with several suppliers producing in Myanmar, and the jobs of thousands of employees working in our suppliers’ garment factories depend on these business relationships. By withdrawing from the country, we would harm those workers. We have therefore decided – for the time being – to continue to source from Myanmar. We will, however, continue to closely monitor the developments in Myanmar and reserve the right to reassess our approach.

C&A Foundation has decided to pause its philanthropic work in Myanmar. Because it is working to create systemic change, the Foundation works directly with stakeholders, such as the government and military, who are both responsible for the situation in the country. C&A Foundation has increased its support to the growing refugee population in Bangladesh.

Read the full C&A Foundation statement here


Save the Children donations helping refugees

Between January 2017 and April 2018, C&A customers donated over €408,000 to Save the Children to help refugees in Europe, and another €225,000 to other emergencies worldwide. Donation boxes were available in 1,150 C&A stores in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

Children and mothers are especially vulnerable in times of conflict, crisis and disaster. Since the beginning of our partnership in 2015, C&A and C&A Foundation have been dedicated partners in our efforts to empower mothers and children in crisis around the world, such as those arriving as refugees in Europe. The partnership includes a three-year financial support of €3 million per year by C&A Foundation as well as a pledge to include customers and employees who want to get involved.

We have focused our partnership on emergency response, providing flexible funds for aid after emergencies occur. Another focus of the partnership is disaster risk reduction to empower communities to become more resilient.



Save the Children drawing competition

Children from 13 schools participating in the C&A Foundation and Save the Children project in Yucatan, Mexico, took part in a drawing competition. Eight winners were chosen by our Commercial teams out of a total of 280 entries, and the designs were printed on puzzles, which were given as gifts with the purchase of special t-shirts. Some were also printed on children's shoes sold in stores during April 2017.

C&A Foundation donated the equivalent of 20% of the sale price of each item – a total of €6,000 – to Save the Children, who used the funds to train school staff to respond in case of emergencies and provide participating schools with lifesaving tools such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits. The children themselves were awarded with a €75 gift card each to spend in-store, a diploma, a set of colouring pens to support them in pursuing their talent, and items with their own drawings on them.

Earthquake response

Two devastating earthquakes hit Mexico in September 2017. Oaxaca was struck by an 8.5 earthquake and only 12 days later a second 7.1 earthquake devastated seven states in the country. Hundreds of lives were lost, many others were injured, and thousands were left homeless – including C&A colleagues, their families and friends.

C&A Foundation moved quickly to support Save the Children's assistance on the ground by releasing €1 million. Through the employee donation portal, another €6,000 was raised by employees and matched by C&A Foundation. C&A Mexico also joined the effort by donating 15,000 garments to the victims in Oaxaca and, through a supplying company, 25,000 more items were send to Morelos. With our support, Save the Children has put in place a twelve-month plan to intervene in the affected areas, reaching 32,000 children in shelters and schools with child-friendly spaces and recovery sessions.

Where next?

Evaluating and improving our partnership

In 2017, C&A Foundation commissioned an independent evaluation of the partnership and its programmes. We used this opportunity to learn about how to improve not only the effectiveness of the partnership on the ground, but how C&A as a business works with NGOs in unique partnerships such as this. We are working together with Save the Children and C&A Foundation to learn from those lessons and design the next phase of our partnership.

This is what we learned:

  • Impact takes time. We need to ensure that partners take time to discuss a programme’s engagement and scope – being realistic with timeframes, and clear on roles and responsibilities.
  • Seed funding works. When responding to emergencies, seed funding helps to provide a rapid response and scale up operations. In Ethiopia, C&A Foundation funds were recycled two to three times, which leveraged a further US $20m. However, this isn’t measured systematically so we’re working to improve KPIs for seed funding. This includes asking for feedback from beneficiaries to aid learning and improve future responses.
  • Programmes need to be long enough. To see results at scale – including policies being implemented in countries and tools for disaster resilience being embedded in communities – programmes should last a minimum of five years.
  • Focus on local government. Many countries already have policies in place, but these aren't being enacted. We need to ensure that local authority and government have the capacity to implement them.