How You Can Help - What not to do
Do not make material donations
The natural response of many people when confronted with evidence of a disaster is to organise a collection of items that they think are urgently needed.
Please don't do this.
If you donate items that have not specifically been requested by an aid agency you may actually prevent the transportation of essential items by taking up valuable transport and storage space en route to the affected area. In the aftermath of a disaster, roads are often damaged or un-passable and can become jammed with shipments of non-priority items.
Most supplies can be purchased locally, even in famine situations. And though the effects of the disaster may be enormous, a country is rarely completely devastated. In most disaster situations, it is not the absence of goods that is the issue, but the difficulty in distributing goods to those that need them most.
Do not send:
- Household foods.
Certain foods, particularly in famine situations can make people ill. The cost of transporting food is very high and it is more cost effective to source it from local or neighbouring countries markets.
- Household medicines.
Donated drugs are often not useful in an emergency situation. They are often unknown to local health professionals who have to waste time sorting them. Drugs have a limited shelf life, and often have to be refrigerated. Expired drugs incur additional costs for the aid agencies because they have to be destroyed. For detailed information on drug donations please consult the 'Guidelines for Drug Donations' produced by the World Health Organisation.
- Second Hand Clothing.
It is more economical to source clothes locally than to ship them long distances.
In addition, the time and money needed to sort these goods can be at the expense of the emergency activities relief workers are attempting to carry out. If these items are needed, the large international agencies will have them pre-prepared or will be able to source them locally.