Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What Not to Do for Haiti

Laura Freschi of Aid Watch on learning how to give aid to Haiti based on recent disasters:

Third, it's crucial for organizations to work together to assess local needs. No one wants to hold up life-saving interventions to conduct a study, but making decisions based on political or media pressure, rather than on a comprehensive survey of needs--as donors admitted to doing in post-tsunami evaluations--leads to waste. Aid can end up being driven by supply: In post-tsunami Thailand, funding boats was popular among donors, so boats were supplied, without regard for how many boats and which kind of boats were actually needed.

Communicating these local needs to donors across the globe is the only way to avoid what aid workers call “the disaster after the disaster,” the avalanche of unneeded stuff that descends on a relief site and takes valuable time and money to sort through and throw away. There have already been several reports of unneeded and unrequested donations creating bottlenecks at Haiti's one strained airport.

[Photo courtesy The Big Picture which thoughtfully warns you if a particular picture might be too graphic.]

Cohen and Werker discuss the moral hazard problem: governments may under-invest in disaster prevention and preparedness, knowing they'll be bailed out. Easterly quips, "And I thought MY ideas were unpopular!"

Alanna Shaikh guest blogs at Aid Watch three bits of advice:

Don’t donate goods. [see above for the same argument.] Donating stuff instead of money is a serious problem in emergency relief. Only the people on the ground know what’s actually necessary; those of us in the rest of the world can only guess.

Don’t go to Haiti. It’s close to the US, it’s a disaster area, and we all want to help. However, it’s dangerous right now and they don’t need “extra hands”. The people who are currently useful are people with training in medicine and emergency response [contact International Medical Corps]. If all you can contribute is unskilled labor, stay home. There is no shortage of unskilled labor in Haiti, and Haitians will be a lot more committed than you are to the rebuilding process.

Don’t ignore rebuilding. The physical damage done to Port au Prince is going to take a long, long time to repair. The human consequences will have a similar slow recovery. Haiti will still need our help next year, and the years after that. It is going to take more than just a short-term infusion of relief money. Give your money to organizations that will be in Haiti for the long haul, and don’t forget about Haiti once the media attention moves on.
Senegal opens its borders:

President Abdoulaye Wade said Haitians were sons and daughters of Africa since Haiti was founded by slaves, including some thought to be from Senegal.

“The president is offering voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to their origin,” said Mr Wade’s spokesman, Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye.

“If it’s just a few individuals, then we will likely offer them housing or small pieces of land. If they come en masse we are ready to give them a region.”

Aid Thoughts on migration and charter cities:
The first issue that the migration-for-development lobby argument raises for me is the forms of identity that migrants hold. Economic migrants (who include vast numbers from developed countries) are normally people escaping poverty, or simply looking for higher incomes of different job opportunities. Most, though not all, eventually intend on returning home. Using the word ‘home’ here is of huge importance. Economic migrants have roots, identities and networks which they intend on returning to. Very few sever their ties with their home countries entirely. For most people living in poor countries, the best option in development is not to cease to be Haitian or Sri Lankan or Zanzibari or Malawian and to become an American or a Brit, but for their own country to develop to the point where they can be wealthy or at least not-in-poverty. ... (and I speak partly from experience, as a Hong Kong born Sri Lankan with a British education working in Africa)
He also makes an excellent point I'll have to get to later about the importance of the nation-state.

Texas in Africa recommends making sure wherever you donate through has been established for a long time in that area, works with and through local organizations, and has experience in dealing with disasters. Five places recommended there by that criteria are:
I can recommend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in that regard also:

A link to a description of what they are doing now. Another one for where to donate. There have been "Mormons" there for over 30 years and they have about 30 congregations there. "Mormon Helping Hands" extends to all people regardless of denomination and often works with CRS and other big name organizations during similar disasters.

[Supplies being gathered by Church volunteers in Georgia at a Bishop's Storehouse.]

No comments:

Post a Comment