Update on the Japan relief efforts – Don’t send stuff or volunteers
Posted on March 21, 2011 at 8:35 am
Good news out of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today.
“One of Japan’s biggest oil refineries in Yokohama, which had been shut down after the earthquakes, has
resumed operation today. It has capacity to provide 270,000 barrels of oil per day, which is expected to ease the current fuel shortage in the affected areas.”
The fuel shortage has been one of the biggest issues hindering the relief efforts. So this is predicted to greatly speed up the relief efforts. Roads and ports are being cleared and repaired which also helps in the relief efforts. From the same situation update:
“MSF says the situation in Minami-Sanriku and the communities between Kesennuma and Miyako on the coastline of northern Miyagi is improving rapidly as the delivery of a large number of relief items is now possible with the restoration of major roads.”
There is also the coordinated collection and distribution of goods from the private sector:
“Japan’s Federation of Economic Organisations has a relief items transportation hotline scheme to support the affected populations. The Federation is appealing for its 1,600 member companies and organizations to send specified items such as food and hygiene products to designated location.”
A coordinated distribution effort is far better and more effcient than individuals sending over and distributing goods themselves. If you must send goods, I urge you to coordinate this through that network instead of through the post. But bear in mind that most goods are available in Japan. As one insider noted
I work for a rather large “Gov. NGO” and our Japan teams are already having problems with the postal system becoming clogged…This isn’t “stopping the relief effort” because relief has priority over Yubin post, but it is creating dependency on it because it clogs the normal delivery system with SWEDOW (no need for US socks) and delays shift back to non aid supply. And all these little efforts add up badly: I’ve already had 12 NGOs in Japan talk to me about doing similar thing from Taiwan, UK, Canada…
Finally, the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) and the Japan Platform have released a joint statement to nonprofit coordinating platforms. Their main messages in their statement can be summarized as:
- Don’t come right now, as it is still the emergency response phase.
- Check before you come to find out if your help is needed and what type of help is needed the most.
- If you do come, stay in close communication with the local authorities and organizations.
- Consider supporting the local institutions set up to respond to disasters as many of them have lost their resources in the disaster.
- Don’t bring over volunteers, there are thousands of Japanese volunteers ready to help.
Giving to local organizations in Japan
6 questions you should ask before sending donated goods overseas
Don’t go to Haiti – could also be Don’t go to Japan
Well-intended attempts to help after a disaster may make a confusing situation worse
The problem with stop and droppers
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