Today our thoughts go out to those who are suffering from the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday, and to all those contributing to relief efforts there.
An email we received this morning from Saundra Schimmelpfennig, who has experience coordinating tsunami relief in Thailand and writes the blog Good Intentions Are Not Enough, highlights some of the problems that arise in responding to a large scale disaster such as this one:
Immediately after a disaster is prime fundraising time for NGOs. So they all rush in and put out immediate appeals before there’s any clear idea of what or how much they can actually help. Only fund those that already have an office established in country because of the amount of time and money it takes to get anything more than just search and rescue up and running. If you want to move into anything such as temporary shelters, food distribution, those with an already established presence will know the people and systems better and be able to work more quickly and less expensively.
I prefer for people to try to support small, local CBOs [Community-based organizations] as they are already on the ground responding, and will be helping in the country for a long time.
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