Dr. Tariq is a PhD scholar in Disaster relief and has written this brilliant but long post on the method to handle the current flood crisis.
The post is copied as under:
We should all come together to help Pakistani flood victims. However, in this time of crisis, it is necessary to think through our help to avoid creating more challenges for relief providers. This post is relevant for both individuals and organizations that want to help.
1. Be very mindful when sending donations in kind. We, as a nation, do not trust people with our money easily. So we usually prefer to send in-kind donations. But in-kind donations can create trouble for relief providers if you don’t communicate with them beforehand.
1a. Food donations: Meat and cooked food are useless for flood victims. The time it takes for anything to reach flood victims is uncertain. Meat and cooked foods spoil easily. They may contribute to waste and filth near flood victims. The foods you should be donating are dry foods. Biscuits, Gurr (Jaggery), and channa (roasted gram) are best for the immediate food needs of flood victims. They also don’t spoil easily. In the medium term, donating rice, pulses, cooking oil, sugar and dried milk is good. Make sure that everything you donate is securely packed.
1b. Clothes and blankets: Do not donate anything you won’t use for yourself. Garments, bedsheets and blankets that are used, soiled, torn and smelly do not help. They only deteriorate the emotional state of flood victims. It is not dignified to send rags to victims.
1c.Water filter and purification: Flood victims need clean water. Buying mineral water bottles is not the best way to go about it. If more organizations send water filters and water purification materials, flood affectees would be less dependent on subsequent water deliveries.
1d. Contact a trustworthy organization: Organizations working in flooded areas know what is required and where. They would be able to guide you better about what to donate and how. They are also able to get discounts on bulk purchases which make donations cost-efficient.
2. Do not visit flooded areas without thorough planning, preparation and coordination: Compassionate people who plan to take and distribute relief items by themselves must know the risks they create for the relief system when planning this adventure.
Transportation in flooded areas is not only costly and dangerous, but it is also precious. If your truck contributes to blockage on a critical road, you are creating misery instead of alleviating it. Every accident you face diverts relief from flood victims to your accidental care.
If you are absolutely convinced about doing it yourself, communicate your plan with NGOs and government agencies operating at your destination. Stay in touch throughout because floods are not stable. Roads working this morning may be flooded by noon. Be mindful.
3. Donating your time: There are a number of ways in which you can help flood victims other than in-kind donations:
3a. Organize donation drives: The effects of this flood are massive and a massive amount of funds is required to save the victims. Come together as families, friends, colleagues, and business groups and donate. Donate as much as you can and inspire others to donate too.
3b. Share relevant knowledge: Relief providers don’t know everything even though they try. If you can help purchase relief goods for cheaper, inform NGOs and government agencies about it. Sharing your knowledge may help victims get more relief quicker.
3c. Organize the supply chain: If you are a supply chain professional, relief agencies need you the most. Disaster relief chains are a huge challenge Up to 80% of relief provision costs are incurred in the supply chain. Give back to the community while applying yourself.
3d. Build visibility: This is a challenge for both relief providers and those who wish to help. The key reason why donors don’t trust providers with funds is that they often can’t see where their funds go.
The reason for a lack of visibility is the extreme situation of disaster relief. The price and availability of relief goods are uncertain. The location and amount of victims in an area are uncertain. The condition of the logistics infrastructure is also uncertain.
People with skills in supply chain management, networks, and computer programming, are crucial for developing platforms that show who is doing what and where. If all relief providers and volunteers have a clear picture, relief provision can become much easier.
I hope the above pointers help relief providers and flood victims. I am a PhD researcher finishing my thesis on disaster relief logistics, with a focus on flood relief in Pakistan.