Lessons From Haiti Disaster: Sending Supplies Doesn't Provide Relief

05/21/2011 01:10 pm ET | Updated Jul 21, 2011

Collecting supplies from your neighborhood and shipping them to countries in crisis may have the best intentions, but it might not provide the relief affected areas truly need.

In an interview with ICYOU, Karl Andersson, an International Disaster Liaison for Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT), he explains the many logistical lessons learned from operations in Haiti.

Andersson said, while supplies are needed, the execution of collecting useful items and getting them shipped to a disaster area is extremely complicated and best left up to the larger agencies.

Instead, Andersson said monetary contributions provide the most value:

"What you really need to do is collect a lot of funds, a lot of cash, because that cash can be converted into action on the ground quite immediately."

Andersson believes the food distribution manuals need to be re-written. He said relief efforts should move away from the old school methods of using foreign military distribution points and rely on a new school strategy: utilizing community leaders to facilitate the process.

"You can actually do that very successfully with minimal security. And the overhead and the cost and the effectiveness, we believe, is actually greater when you can go through the communities."

Anderrson said military intervention can be alienating:

"Standing in line asking for food from a military, foreign organization distribution point is not a good way to rebuild people's self-esteem that has suffered during a disaster."


Relief Work Lessons from Haiti

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