The numbers are staggering. The images haunting.
A 7.9 earthquake is a big, big earthquake. The aftershocks being felt in Nepal are worse than many earthquakes felt around the world, and they continue on.
Naturally, we want to help. As we hear stories of cold weather coming in the Himalayas, monsoon season on its way and the number of poor families in rural Nepal who no longer have a home, we want to help.
What’s the best way to send assistance to a place halfway around the world? Here are three things to consider:
Some organizations will have highly trained personnel ready to respond in a variety of specialities, but most of us are not those people. What can we send to help?
A few weeks ago, I heard somebody say by the time we start collecting items to respond to a disaster and get them ready to ship — such as collecting blankets and tarps to go to Nepal — it’s too late. Think about the supply chain required here:
- Collect blankets in local community
- Combine with another community’s collection to fill a shipping container.
- Load the shipping container.
- Transport the shipping container to port.
- Wait for the ship to traverse the oceans.
- Coordinate a local resource to receive the container, bring trucks and staff with personnel to deliver aid.
- Finding the organizations who have stockpiled these resources and are already delivering them maximizes the value and impact of our dollar.
Organizations active in disaster aid work hard to network and plan for an impending disaster so they can get to work faster. Their relationships with local and national governments, other partner organizations and awareness of the local cultural, political and relational climate are intangible assets that outside organizations don’t and won’t have when working in country.
The balance to this is the widespread devastation in Nepal. Can local residents help themselves when they’re taking care of their own well-being?
Organizations with a regional presence can bring personnel and resources into Nepal from the surrounding areas and work through local partners. With these resources close at hand, the response is quick.
Find an organization which can follow up with you and tell you stories of their continued work.
The value placed on reporting and accountability for fund distribution varies greatly from organization to organization, but you should know where your funds (in general) are going, how they will be spent and what services the organization intends to complete.
When the project is complete, you should hear from the organization. If you don’t, ask for it. If you’ve done your homework in choosing an organization to support, then they likely have this information.
Looking for a way to partner in an international disaster like the earthquakes in Haiti or Nepal? The Integral Alliance is a global alliance of 20 Christian relief and development agencies, working together to present a more effective response to poverty worldwide. Their affiliates are hard at work in Nepal right now.