Humanitarian Assistance

We believe in serving vulnerable populations facing humanitarian emergencies with community driven and results-based assistance.

Our Approach

PADF focuses on life-saving assistance by promoting food security, providing emergency health services, supporting safe shelter, increasing access to protection services, such as psychosocial support and preventing gender-based violence, and guaranteeing the affected population’s access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

PADF’s extensive network of local partners throughout the hemisphere allows us to respond at the onset of a humanitarian emergency or crisis. Through this localized approach, PADF targets the most vulnerable communities with responses that are catered to each community’s unique needs and contexts.

Promoting Food Security 

Promoting food security lays at the heart of PADF’s humanitarian response strategy. PADF utilizes in-kind and cash-based food assistance strategies depending on the community’s needs and preferences, distributing food vouchers and food baskets to vulnerable households as well as “grab-and-go” and on-site hot meals in community kitchens and distribution sites. This assistance not only contributes to improve food security and nutrition, but also fosters a safe space for communities to gather and build resilience.

For example, community kitchens and food distribution points have become hubs for community activity during and after crisis events, with community members engaging in workshops on topics ranging from nutrition to preventing gender-based violence. At these community spaces, PADF also conducts anthropometric screenings to monitor rates of malnutrition and health fairs for communities who do not have access to local health services.

Providing Emergency Health Services

Understanding that vulnerable communities often lack access to preventative and regular health services, PADF offers emergency health assistance to populations in need. Further, given that populations living in remote communities may face particular transportation and logistical challenges reaching health services, PADF coordinates with community health providers, local organizations, and other key stakeholders to offer medical brigades that bring qualified health assistance directly to beneficiary communities.

For example, in Costa Rica, PADF works with a local partner to implement health brigades in the south of the country, where vulnerable migrants and refugees often arrive from Panama, after spending weeks crossing the arduous Darien jungle, suffering injuries, infections, and other ailments. At the same time, PADF works to build the capacity of local health actors—through trainings on the health rights of migrant populations and capacity-building of local hospitals spread thin by local needs and limited resources.

Supporting Safe Shelter

Access to adequate shelter is essential for individual and collective safety, protection, and wellbeing. Recognizing this, PADF strives to ensure that its beneficiary populations have access to shelter that is responsive to their needs, including by differentiating spaces and prioritizing the safety of particularly vulnerable communities, including women, children, and the LGBTQIA+ community. In Panama, PADF works with its local partner to ensure that the government-run Migrant Reception Centers (ERMs) for migrants and refugees transiting through the country are not only in adequate condition to receive influxes in arrivals, but also attentive to different needs. For example, PADF has encouraged the differentiation of bathroom facilities and the installation of improved lighting to ensure migrants, especially women, children, and other vulnerable groups, feel safe.

Strengthening Protection Services – Prevention of Gender-Based Violence and Psychosocial Care

PADF understands that during and after emergency events, communities often require psychosocial support to process trauma and promote healing. Wherever applicable, PADF engages local leaders to incorporate indigenous and ancestral cultural practices into psychosocial programming, so that communities can use tailored tools to bond and heal together.

Gender-transformative programming is integral to PADF’s humanitarian assistance. From conducting innovative awareness-raising workshops and women’s empowerment groups to providing counselling services and strengthening referral channels, PADF is committed to preventing gender-based violence with each of its humanitarian responses. PADF also prioritizes protection from sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment, and continuously works to strengthen the capacity of local partners to prevent and respond to related incidents, in order to guarantee the safety and dignity of all beneficiaries.

Ensuring Access to Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

To complement our food security and health programs, PADF supports local partners to test and treat the water used at food distribution points to ensure safe food preparation. PADF also conducts hygiene campaigns and workshops to promote healthy habits within target communities and distributes water bottles and hygiene supplies to vulnerable populations who have limited to no access to these crucial resources.

Carolina Brea

Carolina Brea

Migration Director


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