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Seven Myths of Disaster Relief
Thursday 20 January 2005, 8:30 pm
Keywords: Christian Topics
, News Articles
What's really needed after a catastrophe.
by Rich Moseanko
News of the December 26 tsunami was almost immediately followed by news of donation scams, inefficient relief efforts, and good intentions gone awry. Longtime World Vision relief director Rich Moseanko sent out a list, condensed here, to help donors understand what's really needed after a major catastrophe.
1. Americans can help by collecting blankets, shoes, and clothing. The cost of shipping these itemsólet alone the time it takes to sort, pack, and ship themóis prohibitive. Since they are often manufactured for export to the U.S. in the very countries that need relief, it is far more efficient to purchase them locally. Cash is better.
2. Food and medicines must be airlifted to the disaster site. Food
and medicine is virtually always available within a day's drive of the disaster site. Purchasing it locally is more cost-efficient.
3. If I send cash, my help won't get there. Reputable agencies send the vast majority of cash donations to the disaster site.
4. Developing countries depend on foreign expertise. Most relief and recovery efforts are carried out by local aid groups, police, firefighters, and neighbors before international teams ever arrive.
5. Relief needs are so intense that almost anyone can fly to the scene to help. Volunteers without skills necessary in disaster relief can do more harm than good.
6. Insurance and governments can cover losses. The vast majority of the world's population has never heard of an insurance policy.
7. People are helpless in the face of natural disasters. The United States and Canada are proof that tougher building codes, early warning systems, and disaster preparedness can save lives.