Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The brutal truth about giving to disasters ! Cash is needed !

The situation in Haiti is the worst I have seen for some years. For over 30 years I have worked in the frontline in times of major disasters, and you get so frustrated when all you have is junk in warehouses, and no cash to buy what the affected people want. Today I saw this article written by Edward Brown, relief director for World Vision, who debunks five myths around disaster relief.

1. Collecting blankets, shoes and clothing is a cost-effective way to help
The cost of shipping these items – and the time it takes to sort and pack – is prohibitive and entails much higher cost than the value of the goods themselves. World Vision has relief supplies already stocked in disaster-prone countries as well as in strategically located warehouses around the world that meet international standards and are ready to deploy as soon as a crisis strikes. Cash donations are the best, most cost-efficent way to help aid groups deliver these life-saving supplies quickly, purchase supplies close to the disaster zone when possible and replenish their stocks in preparation for future disasters.

2. If I send cash, my help won’t get there
Reputable agencies send 80% or more of cash donations to the disaster site; the rest is invested in monitoring, reporting and other activities that facilitate transparency and efficiency in their operations, as well as in sharing information with those who can help. Donors have a right and a responsibility to ask aid groups how they will be using those donations, and what will be done with donations raised in excess of the need.

3. Volunteers are desperately needed in emergency situations
While hands-on service may feel like a better way to help in a crisis, disaster response is a highly technical and sensitive effort. Professionals with specialized skills and overseas disaster experience should be deployed to disaster sites. Volunteers without those skills can do more harm than good, and siphon off critical logistics and translations services.

4. Unaccompanied children should be adopted as quickly as possible to get them out of dangerous conditions
Hearing about the specific needs of children often sparks a desire to adopt children who seem to have lost their families. However, early in a crisis, children need to be protected, but should remain in their home countries until authorities can confirm the locations of their family members and explore adoption possibilities within their own communities and cultures first.

5. People are helpless in the face of natural disasters
Even in the poorest countries like Haiti, people often reveal a great deal of inner strength and often show a resourcefulness that can save lives... While support and aid are necessary, the Haitian people are by no means helpless.

. So I implore you, we need you empathy, sympathy, support but not your hand-me-down clothes.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Thanks for the good honest info and accurate up to date reports beyond the racist and sensationalist news media we have to put up with out here.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Robb

It's great having close friends on the ground in Haiti who are able to get accurate information out to the world.

Take care.


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Paterika Hengreaves said...

Hi Bob

This is the most matter of fact and no-nonsense post superbly written. Obviously you have brought to bear in the post all your expertise from your lifetime of working the ploughs of disaster relief in countries that have suffered natural disaster like the one in Haiti in all the various climatic zones. An from how I see it, you are no flash-in-the-pan when it comes to actually working with natural disasters. No doubt having scaled mountains,worked with Sir Edmund Hillary and you have done missions to the north and south poles have prepared you well in your chosen career as a humanitarian with the Red Cross in the Asian platforms.

It is so obvious to see so many folks with hidden agendas grandstanding in media camera in Haiti without any shame; and definitely, the people of Haiti don't need hand-me-down clothes. Cash is way better for addressing humanitarian aid to Haiti at this point in time. Along with the cash Haiti needs real doctors, nurses and people with true and tested skills in disaster relief and management NOW and in the years following. Hopefully I wish to see this happening in Haiti real soon.

Snatching ophrans with unprecedented haste... to work on neglected farms in years to come is the scenario that keeps playing in my mind's eye... you can connect the dots on my suspicious mind. I hope such fears never come true.

So good to read your blog this afternoon.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Paterika
The aspect the media does not highlight enough is the wonderful work being done by the thousands of Haitian Red Cross volunteers and hundreds of Red Cross and Red Crescent staff from other countries who are working round the clock and saving lives by the minute by professional surgical operations, providing clean water and food, temporary shelter etc.

Madame Michaele Gedeon, President of the Haitian National Red Cross, is giving outstanding leadership and somehow I never see her name in the international media.

“Despite this loss of premises, one of several bereavements, Haitian Red Cross volunteers were among the first to respond because they live within the affected communities,” said President of the IFRC, Tadateru Konoe.

“The volunteers too suffered appalling losses. They are shocked and grieving. And yet their desire to help their fellow human beings takes priority. They are true humanitarian heroes and we are both proud of, and humbled by, their dedication.” said Konoe

“Poverty is at the root of this catastrophe,” says Bekele Geleta, IFRC secretary general. “Countless lives could have been saved by investment in quake-resistant buildings and other disaster risk reduction measures.”

I could say a lot more but I hope this helps a little.

Thanks for your comments. I go to your website quite ofen to read your poems. Thankyou for that. Bob

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