Each time a disaster strikes around the world, you likely read about it
online or watch it on the news, and then wonder what you can do to help. Maybe you aren’t sure how to respond, or you
wonder if your efforts will even make a real difference. Maybe these thoughts
went through your mind when you heard the news of the earthquake in Haiti on
January 12, 2010.
Haiti is ranked as the poorest country inthe western hemisphere with 80% of its 10
million citizens living below $2 per day and more than half on less than $1 per
day. The social and political infrastructure of the country has been
continually battered by conflict, other natural disasters, and political
instability, which made this country extremely vulnerable, especially when
faced with natural disasters. Haiti was already dealing with the rebuilding efforts
since the hurricanes in 2008 when the earthquake struck. With these facts in mind, it is especially
crucial to make careful decisions when donating to disaster relief efforts.
The following guide provides some key criteria to look for when selecting an
organization to donate to for relief efforts as well as the criteria One Day’s
Wages used when selecting a partner organization for Haiti relief:
– Local Presence: Look for organizations that have had an established, strong presence
in the country prior to the disaster. Also look for organizations that will
continue their efforts past the initial emergency response. Organizations that
have an established local presence will likely be more efficient with their
funds because they already know the area and how to locate goods, have local
contacts, and they are more familiar with the greatest needs of the people.
– Cash Donations: It is important that the organization is focused on raising cash donations rather than supplies. In
disaster situations, monetary donations are the most constructive means of aid.
It allows for the aid workers to be able to secure the exact items they need to
best serve the local population in a way that is quick, cost effective and
culturally sensitive. Shipping goods overseas generally exceeds the cost of
procuring the goods at the site of the disaster.
– Communicated Efforts Make sure the organization that you donate to has a clearly stated program for
relief efforts and explains what your money will be used for. Opt for
organizations that are open and transparent with the uses of their funds.
– Prior Experience:Organizations that have previously led effective disaster relief programs are
likely going to know the best ways of handling similar emergencies. Look to see
who is coordinating the disaster response and if they have had previous
experience in handling relief efforts.
– Local Leadership:Another important element is the involvement of local people in decision
making. It is not an organizations duty to rebuild the community for them. The local people should be
allowed to manage their own situation and not treated like helpless victims. The
best organizations are those that empower the local community to take ownership
of their future.
– Low overhead: Take a look at the potential organization’s budget. Stay away from those who spend
large percentages of their budgets on overhead expenses.
Don’t forget – Once the news fades and the hype dies down, disaster recovery is
not over. For example, shortly after the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, World Concern
explained that it will likely take at least two years for Haiti to return to
the state that it was in prior to the earthquake – which is still only
returning it to an unstable condition with widespread extreme poverty.
Geographically, Haiti will always be in danger of natural disasters. Long term
investment must be made by the international community in order to strengthen
Haiti’s infrastructure and prevent such extreme damage and loss.
Click for more information on the One Day’s Wages partnership with World Concern and Partners in Health for Haiti disaster relief. We
believe that these organizations are fully capable of making a huge impact in
the community in and around Port au Prince. Combined, they have been a presence in Haiti for over 50 years. We hope to be working alongside these organizations to strive for a day when their assistance in Haiti is no longer required.
–Nicole Ide//ODW Intern//ODW Profile
Top photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong