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Haiti earthquake: Help navigating complex terrain of disaster relief

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.

Ideas for how to help and where to give:

Getting and sharing information:

First-person accounts and in-depth coverage:

Humanitarian response:

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5 Comments

  1. MSF.org has three facilities in Haiti, all have suffered damage, and they have had to close one hospital when things are critical. Staff have been injured, but at last report none have been killed. Your assistance will surely help

    Posted January 13, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
  2. ActionAid was already in the country providing support to the poorest and most vulnerable before the earthquake hit and were able to immediately respond when the disaster struck. For more information on the response, both short and long-term, please visit: http://actionaidusa.org/what/emergencies/support_haitian_relief_efforts/

    Posted January 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  3. avam wrote:

    MapAction – a relatively new UK based NGO, is another good organisation. It helps other aid agencies and rescue services with emergency mapping assistance.

    link here: http://www.mapaction.org/

    “MapAction’s Chief Executive Nigel Woof said: ‘Within days we expect that dozens – or probably hundreds – of aid organisations will be trying to make sense of the shattered landscape and communities in Haiti. Our job is to gather information that can be mapped to create a shared operational picture, so that people most in need get the right types of help”.

    Posted January 14, 2010 at 6:08 am | Permalink
  4. Zeynep wrote:

    Having read Mountains Beyond Mountains, I couldn’t think of any agency other than Partners in Health to donate to efforts in Haiti. I believe it was listed among the most efficient agencies on the website Bill brought up in his bloggerhead discussion… I just can’t remember the name of the hedge fund group that initiated the charity efficiency/effectiveness ranking…

    Posted January 14, 2010 at 7:50 am | Permalink
  5. The ALNAP Lessons Paper ‘Responding to earthquakes 2008: Learning from earthquake relief and recovery operations’ may prove of use to implementing agencies.
    http://www.alnap.org/pool/files/ALNAPLessonsEarthquakes.pdf

    This paper aims to provide a distillation of the learning from 29 different earthquake responses taking place over thirty years of humanitarian responses. The main intended audiences are operational decision-makers and relief programme managers working in the response to such sudden-onset natural disasters.

    As the worst affected area of Haiti appears to be the heavily populated capital city, Port-au-Prince, the ALNAP Lessons Paper ‘Responding to urban disasters: Learning from previous relief and recovery operations’ may also be of use.
    http://www.alnap.org/pool/files/alnap-provention-lessons-urban.pdf

    Posted January 14, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

21 Trackbacks

  1. By uberVU - social comments on January 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by aidwatch: See also quote on AW http://bit.ly/5jQHNY RT @saundra_s Choosing organizations to donate to after the Haiti earthquake http://bit.ly/5PZ2M4

  2. By Haiti Relief Organizations | AXI on January 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    […] Haiti Earthquake: Help Navigating Complex Terrain Of Disaster ReliefHaiti Earthquake: Help Navigating Complex Terrain of Disaster Relief. By Laura Freschi | P… Haiti Relief Organizations – on FriendFeed […]

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Irwin Lazar, audrey_renee, Nancy Bartels, jwcampbe, Shandy Casteel and others. Shandy Casteel said: Make sure your good intentions count: http://bit.ly/5jQHNY […]

  4. […] Aid Watch and GiveWell other watchdog groups, also ave blog postings about Haiti. GiveWell suggests some groups (that they have deemed effective) who are already working in Haiti: […]

  5. By Praying for Haiti « Cubiyanqui on January 13, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    […] AidWatch: Today our thoughts go out to those who are suffering from the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti […]

  6. […] Aidwatch has a nice post on navigating the complex terrain of disaster relief […]

  7. By Search Haiti Earthquake Time | Broadcasting News on January 13, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    […] Haiti Earthquake: Help Navigating Complex Terrain of Disaster ReliefImmediately 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 … Haiti Earthquake: Help Navigating Complex Terrain Of Disaster ReliefHaiti Earthquake: Help Navigating Complex Terrain of Disaster Relief. By Laura Freschi | P… Haiti Relief Organizations – on FriendFeed [. ..] … Read more […]

  8. By Rashtrakut » Blog Archive » Disaster in Haiti on January 13, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    […] collapse of the few government services will cause the death toll to spiral.  See here,  here and here for how and where to […]

  9. […] From the Hood, Aid Watch and Good Intentions are Not Enough all have suggestions for who to give to for Haiti. My own […]

  10. […] Haiti earthquake: Help navigating complex terrain of disaster relief (AidWatch, […]

  11. […] news from Haiti is so horrible.  I thought that this site, which talks a little about how you can give most effectively when there’s a disaster far […]

  12. […] Watch.” Over there, Laura Freschi has published suggestions.  Please take a moment. [link] Avaaz has other good suggestions [link]. You might also read Anthroman’s reflections on Pat […]

  13. By APOLARITY » Blog Archive » Link for today: Haiti on January 14, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    […] you want to help in the short term, here’s some good advice for choosing how to maximize the impact of your dollars by choosing the best NGO. (We went with […]

  14. By RadarLake » A Riddle of Sorts…and Haiti. on January 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    […] Watch, a blog run by development expert Bill Easterly, has a good post with suggestions on where to donate and where to get information on Haiti. The Canadian government also has a site with more suggestions. Even the Montreal […]

  15. By On Haiti « Aid Thoughts on January 15, 2010 at 6:00 am

    […] Aid Watch […]

  16. […] who already have operations in Haiti are situated to give immediate assistance. Aid Watch brings an explanation of why this is the case and suggestions for how to respond, and the U.S. State department is offering a super-easy way to donate: “text […]

  17. […] On ways to help, see Sasha Dichter, Tales from the Hood, Wronging Rights, Philanthropy Action, and Aid Watch. […]

  18. […] Posted on January 16, 2010 by Tom If you want to give money, Chris Blattman and Laura Freschi both have good ideas and useful information. However, if you can’t give as much as you would […]

  19. […] on giving (from various development blogs): 1, 2, 3, […]

  20. […] one point I found particularly interesting from Saundra Schimmelpfennig which is taken from Aidwatchers.com Immediately after a disaster is prime fundraising time for NGOs. So they all rush in and put out […]

  21. […] on giving (from various development blogs): 1, 2, 3, […]

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    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

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