Disasters Emergency Committee

Information for teachers on what the Disasters Emergency Committee is and how it helps, with activities for learners. 

Group of adults unload humanitarian aid from trucks
Teacher briefing, quick activity
Citizenship, PSHE
Disasters and emergencies

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) becomes active during major emergencies. These include crises such as people fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state or Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake

Who forms this committee? What does it do, and why? This briefing for teachers explains, with suggested discussion points for learners.

Learning objectives

Teachers will:

  • be introduced to the DEC, understand what it does, how it is funded, who its members are and when it operates.

Learners will:

  • find out what the DEC is
  • consider the role of fundraising and the media during major emergency appeals
  • discuss why some humanitarian crises get DEC support and why others don’t
  • give their opinions on charity appeals and advertising.

Resource overview

  • What is the Disasters Emergency Committee?
  • Does it operate during all disasters?
  • What happens when an appeal is launched?
  • Who are the members?

Classroom activity

  • Discussion questions consider the role of the media, fundraising, which disasters get support, challenges faced, and advertising during appeals.


This briefing was written by P J White and produced in May 2007. It was updated in October 2017.

The photo shows essential household items being distributed by the ICRC in Yemen (© Nabil Sabra/ICRC).