Update on Indonesia relief effort

Before my hiatus last week, I posted about the incipient relief efforts to people affected by the earthquake and tsumani in the Mentawai region of Indonesia late last month, as part of my ongoing series about the six emerging economies captured by the label “CIVETS.” Since then, the following US organizations have set up relief efforts. You can donate in US dollars online to the Save the Children one, and also donate more generally to Mercy Corps, which does this kind of work across the world.

There may be others I’m missing.

Part of the challenge getting relief aid to these communities is that they’re very remote. Indonesia is an archipelago nation, and when the weather doesn’t cooperate, it can apparently be very difficult to move from one island to the other, such as with relief supplies.

And don’t forget the principles of smart disaster giving that finally began filtering into the public consciousness around Haiti:

  • Give cash, not goods.
  • Support organizations that have existing relationships on the ground, it makes the process more efficient and means that more relief gets their sooner. (Note that Save the Children highlights how they’ve had a presence in Indonesia since 1976.)
  • Give to the long-term recovery effort, not just immediate relief.
  • Be OK with the fact that because of what it costs to have an effective on-the-ground response, your dollar now may get into the field weeks or even months later, or on another disaster. Relief orgs need revolving sources of funding, and it’s not like you’re going to say, “no, don’t help those other people in the next disaster.” It’s like providing general operating support, give the organization that’s proven its ability to get help to those who need it the latitude to use the funds in the most effective way. (A donation to Mercy Corps in this case would be akin to that. Also, Save the Children’s giving opportunity is the their “Indonesia Children in Emergency Fund,” which likely has more flexible applications. Be aware of and OK with that.)
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