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We’re shocked to discover Jessica Simpson doesn’t read our blog

Click here to watch the video.

Click here to read our blog post (by guest blogger Alanna Shaikh), just one of many pieces out there trying to give people good advice on the best ways to help in Haiti (HINT: NOT by sending them your old shoes.)

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10 Comments

  1. JustaStudent wrote:

    At first when I saw this I was like well that’s stupid. Then I thought about it, the receivers will be able to sell or trade the shoes for what they deem to be more useful (like they are already doing with tents, food aid and items left behind by workers). So perhaps there will be some positive externalities!

    Posted January 28, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink
  2. matathia wrote:

    Well, justastudent, don’t you think that anyone in Haiti now who has something useful to trade those shoes with can afford new shoes?

    Why are you comparing tent and food aid to used shoes?

    If you had lost your life and livelihood, would you rather':
    a) someone came to you and asked, “what do you need, to live through this day or to get your life back together?;
    b) Someone flew in a tonne of used shoes

    If anyone has the time and resources to collect old shoes, then they do have the time and resources to figure out that Haitians dont need those

    Posted January 29, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  3. Ted H wrote:

    I hope Jessica Simpson sent some stilettos to Haiti. I bet those would be useful.

    Posted January 29, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink
  4. Frances wrote:

    I watched the video, at it looks to me like they aren’t asking for old shoes, they’re asking for money with which to buy new shoes.

    I’m not sure how the Haitian need for shoes compares with the need for other goods. If new shoes are needed, then an organized shipments of new pairs seems like the best way to deliver them.

    The web site doesn’t do a good job of explaining the plan, and this is not the charity for me, but don’t seem to be doing what the post implies. They aren’t collecting old shoes.

    Posted January 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink
  5. Saundra wrote:

    Shoes are already for sale in the local marketplaces. If shoes are shipped in it outcompete the people selling shoes and potentially put them out of work as well as the factory workers making the shoes.
    In addition the ports are not able to handle the amount of goods currently being shipped into the country. Could you imagine if medical supplies or food could not be unloaded because of a shipment of shoes…
    Organizations would do much better either buying the shoes locally or giving people money or chits to buy what they think is most needed – it might not be shoes.
    Here’s a post from Tales from the Hood who is on the ground in Haiti right now http://wp.me/puUMG-8s and two of my posts – one on donated shoes http://informationincontext.typepad.com/good_intentions_are_not_e/2009/09/donating-shoes-and-other-fads.html and the other on in-kind donations. http://informationincontext.typepad.com/good_intentions_are_not_e/2010/01/6-questions-you-should-ask-before-donating-goods-overseas.html

    Posted January 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
  6. joe wrote:

    Does it ever make sense to send ‘stuff’?

    Posted January 29, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
  7. @joe: Sure, under the following circumstances:
    – It meets a clearly described need expressed by the recipients.
    – It is impossible to meet the need through existing structures in the recipients’ society.
    – Negative side-effects of the donation cumulatively do not outweigh the positive effects. (This one trips up a lot of people; e.g. what negative side effects could there possibly be from donating shoes? Well, read Saundra’s response above, and many other posts.)
    – The logistics of collection, transport, distribution, support, and maintenance are all carefully worked out and fully funded.
    – The organisation(s) doing the collection, transport, distribution, support, and maintenance are in a position to monitor those on an ongoing basis until the end of the expected lifetime of the donation and to respond to disruptions.

    How often do you think this happens?

    Posted January 29, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
  8. @joe: forgot to mention one other condition: the aid does not compete with other aid that adds more value to the recipients (more lives saved, more suffering alleviated, more income added…), either in fundraising, collection, or logistics.

    Posted January 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink
  9. Charlie wrote:

    I have to say that although I do feel that it’s important to raise awareness and help, what strikes me as somewhat unusual is the choice of things that take centre stage when it is food and homes and medical help and eduction that these people need the most.

    Having done work in Africa, they don’t think about their feet or their appearance, when they are starving to death.

    The media attention is great, but lets focus on the real needs.

    That’s my two cents – Revealed Tricks Charlie

    Posted January 30, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  10. martin wrote:
    Posted February 11, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

2 Trackbacks

  1. By uberVU - social comments on January 29, 2010 at 6:20 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by bill_easterly: Re: #Haiti, we are shocked to discover that Jessica Simpson doesn’t read our blog http://bit.ly/bkGcZi

  2. By In go the clowns « Aid Thoughts on February 9, 2010 at 7:52 am

    […] seen some bloggers upset about the mass donation of used shoes to the Haitian crisis. That was only the beginning. Remember Clowns Without Borders? They go to needy locations […]

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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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