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Emergency Relief Needs a Gift Registry
The three-year anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake was just this weekend. Much like Hurricane Sandy, Haiti sobered the relief community by exposing longstanding gaps in the response system. A recent NPR story compared responses to the two catastrophes and noted that some of the gaps in Haiti still haven’t been filled, even three years later.
In fact, more than 350,000 people in Haiti still have nothing more than a dingy tent in a displacement camp to call home. At the same time, the American Red Cross reports what it calls a second disaster, “a flood of unwanted donations” that continue to sit unused in Red Cross warehouses. It’s clear that there’s a disconnect between the well-intentioned gifts of donors and the actual needs of disaster victims. But our growing capacity for online communication makes it possible to target emergency assistance with unparalleled accuracy.
Shortly after Sandy struck in October 2012, a group of young volunteers in New York City piloted a promising idea—a simple online gift registry, akin to a wedding or baby registry, that told donors the specific, current needs of victims. The list included everything from rubber gloves to generators. The response was immediate and precise. Best of all—the most pressing needs were filled.
The ability to pinpoint solutions is a powerful new tool, not only for emergency relief but for the longer-term work of building people’s resilience, their capacity to respond to factors beyond their control that threaten their livelihoods. The 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach -- Global Development Goals makes the case for targeted solutions via country-led development. This is simply the idea that developing countries set priorities for and manage donor-supported development programs. It’s undergirded by the same assumption that problems are best solved when those who are most affected take the lead and communicate clearly with those who want to help.Read more on country-led development in the 2013 Hunger Report here.
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