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 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 — including building resiliency — 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.

Our 2018 performance

Helping children and families across the world

Over the past four years, C&A Foundation has provided partnership funding of €13.44 million, not including the additional funds donated through marketing and employee campaigns. This has contributed to assisting over 15 million children worldwide since 2015.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 €4 million since 2015. In 2018, C&A Foundation renewed the partnership with Save the Children for another €3.6 million.

Since March 2018, C&A Foundation and Save the Children have responded to 11 disasters and established the Children’s Emergency Fund. Together with responses started in previous years, Save the Children has been able to reach over 8 million people with the support of C&A and C&A Foundation in 2018.Responses in 2018 included:

  • Integrated package of services to Rohingya children and their communities
  • Ethiopia drought response
  • Bangladesh flooding response
  • Laos floods
  • Lombok earthquake
  • Kerala floods – also, employees of C&A and COFRA raised €5,080, which was matched by C&A Foundation
  • Sinaloa floods
  • Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami emergency response
  • Migrant exodus in Mexico


Between January 2018 and March 2019, C&A Europe and C&A Mexico raised a total of €1,331,141 for Save the Children through cause-related marketing, emergency appeals, and other initiatives.

Sharing what works 

In 2018 C&A Foundation and Save the Children continued to lead and disseminate research on DRR, with a suite of 10 research projects under three themes:

  1. Policy and the enabling environment
  2. Hazard impacts on education
  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 DRR sector. Creating global and regional dialogue to strengthen the sector is an important focus of this programme.

Read more in the C&A Foundation 2018 Annual Report


Responding to the refugee crisis in Myanmar

Since 2017, more than 900,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar across the border into Bangladesh, in a tragic refugee crisis. According to UNICEF, over half 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 has had conversations with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to understand their approach and explore ways of coordinating the industry efforts in supporting people who have fled the Rakhine state. In addition, C&A Foundation, with their global partner Save the Children, supported humanitarian efforts in this crisis during 2017. As the situation worsened in 2018, C&A Foundation designated an extra €2.5 million to six different initiatives in partnership with BLAST, CRS, CARE, Terre des Hommes, Oxfam, and the Center for Global Development. The partnerships supported underfunded challenges, such as tackling sexual and gender-based violence, protecting children, and protecting human rights.

Read more in the 2018 C&A Foundation Annual Report


Save the Children donations helping refugees

Save the Children, the world’s leading independent organisation for children’s rights, is an established strategic partner for C&A and C&A Foundation. Save the Children is one of the strongest and boldest advocates for children´s rights, providing relief and supports children in need around the world.

Among Save the Children’s key interventions to protect children from harm and stress are Child Friendly Spaces. These protected environments, which will take on a central role for this partnership in the upcoming years, are mostly set up in communities affected by disaster and crisis and give children the chance to play, make friends, learn, and express themselves.

In 2018, the partnership among C&A, C&A Foundation, and Save the Children was able to reach more than 8 million people, of whom around 4 million are children. Significant yearly funding of over €3 million from C&A Foundation towards Save the Children until 2021 will amplify the scope of the partnership and support Save the Children’s programmes.

Between January 2018 and March 2019, C&A customers donated over €604,081 to Save the Children.

To show additional support for Save the Children, C&A sold stuffed animals (alpacas) at C&A stores in 15 European countries and online during the Christmas season. For every stuffed alpaca sold, C&A Foundation donated €9 to Save the Children — a total of €647,928.

In December 2018, we also launched our ‘make the world better with a sweater’ campaign. Nearly 4,500 employees from 14 countries in Europe wore ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters to support Save the Children. For every picture showing an employee wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, C&A Foundation donated €3 to Save The Children. In total, 4,490 employees participated, resulting in a donation of €13,470. Additional C&A Foundation donations brought the total 2018 contribution to the Children’s Emergency Fund to €700,000.


Humanitarian aid after earthquakes

Two devastating earthquakes hit Mexico in September 2017, and recovery is ongoing. 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. Save the Children estimates that over 400,000 children interrupted their studies due to damaged schools, over 50,000 lost their homes, and over 95,000 were living in insecure conditions due to structural damage.

C&A Foundation moved quickly to support Save the Children’s assistance on the ground by donating €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 sent to Morelos. With the support of C&A Foundation, Save the Children put in place a 12-month plan to intervene in the affected areas, reaching 32,000 children in shelters and schools with child-friendly spaces and recovery sessions. Through these combined efforts, Save the Children reached more than 140,000 people, of which 69,829 were children, through the following efforts:

  • 175 child-friendly spaces established in shelters
  • 2,239 emotional support sessions provided for 24,676 children
  • 34 temporary classrooms established
  • 24 permanent sanitary facilities built
  • 2 community restaurants built
  • 24,250 kits with clothes, shoes, food and blankets delivered
  • 15 homes rebuilt in Morelos
  • 1 elementary school was rebuilt in Puebla
  • 135 families in Tehuantepec received monthly stipend


As part of C&A’s commitment to supporting communities, in 2018 C&A Mexico and its Foundation donated more than 175,187 garments with a commercial value of approximately $15 million pesos (nearly €700,000). Donations were distributed in the communities where C&A operates. Some in-kind donations helped to fund social projects in communities and the others were delivered directly to beneficiaries.


Disaster relief after hurricanes

When Hurricane Willa struck the Pacific coast of Mexico, two communities, Nayarit and Sinaloa, suffered flooded homes, overflowing rivers, damaged highways, and other damage. C&A Mexico and its Foundation made an in-kind donation of 11,105 articles of clothing to Nayarit residents. In Sinaloa, a donation of €17,400 helped more than 1,700 direct beneficiaries and almost 6,000 indirect beneficiaries. C&A also delivered 1,000 hygiene kits to help residents deal with the lack of clean water and sanitation services. Additional training was provided to help reduce risks among the affected population.


Support during migration

In late 2018 in Tijuana, where asylum seekers began convening in large numbers on their way to the United States, children and families needed support with water, hygiene, and sanitation, among other necessities. C&A Mexico and its Foundation provided €50,000 in support. Interventions included advocacy to safeguard and guarantee the rights of minors, safe spaces for boys and girls, and 3,000 hygiene kits. The combined actions benefited approximately 2,300 children.

Humanitarian aid to strengthen communities in Brazil

In addition to working closely with Save the Children, we are engaged in other programmes that benefit the communities where C&A employees, customers, and workers live. Our Strengthening Communities programme, executed through the SOS Community project, provided humanitarian aid in 2018 to approximately 300 Venezuelan immigrants in Boa Vista (Roraima), Brazil. This included donations of basic materials for the Centro de Atenção a Mulheres e Crianças e Pastoral do Migrante and other support. The project also benefited 200 children in northeastern Brazil through the donation of mattresses and approximately 320 people through the donation of 100 stoves to families affected by a fire that gutted more than 800 houses in Amazonas, Manaus.


Where next?

The partnership between C&A Foundation and Save the Children aims to provide €1.5 million to support children and families in dealing with disaster recovery and resilience by the end of 2019, and anticipates reaching over 1.6 million people during the year. In addition, the Children’s Emergency Fund has set a goal to raise €879,000 (with the goal stated as 1 million CHF) in 2019, towards an annual target of nearly €2.2 million (2.5 million CHF) by 2021.To drive greater awareness and engagement among customers and employees, C&A’s regions have designed a logo to use in stores.