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Caterpillars: a wise investment?

When disaster strikes, we’re all used to seeing urgent appeals for food, water, tents and blankets. But where do caterpillars fit in?

90% of global spending on disasters goes on emergency relief and on reconstruction efforts.

But, as we marked International Disaster Risk Reduction Day on the 14 October, it was important to remember that every £1 spent on disaster preparedness can save up to £4 in disaster response costs. And caterpillars can help prevent disaster.
Ivan at his family's butterfly farmIvan lives on Marinduque island in the Philippines. His family are farmers. In the past, when the typhoons came - as they did every year - the family would often lose their crops to the storms and floods, wiping out all their savings and leaving them with no means to feed themselves.
Now Ivan’s family farm butterflies. Across Asia, guests often release butterflies at weddings, instead of throwing confetti or rice, so they are in great demand.
When the warning system alerts Ivan's family that there is a typhoon coming, Ivan helps bring all the caterpillars and pupae inside, safe from the storm. Afterwards, the family carry them outside again, and carry on as normal. However fierce the wind and however heavy the rain, their savings are safe.
Christian Aid’s partner MACEC helped Ivan’s family to start up their butterfly farm and so ‘disaster-proof’ their livelihood.
This is just one example of the work Christian Aid partners are delivering as part of a £3 million global disaster preparedness project, generously funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The project, Building Disaster Resilient Communities, has been helping disaster-prone communities in six countries: the Philippines, Honduras, Bangladesh, Malawi, Burkina Faso and El Salvador.

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UK Ambassador visits El Salvador partner.

Read Julie Chappell's account of her trip to a Building Disaster Resilient Communties project.

Find out more