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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Here’s how to best help Nepal

On April 25, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake devastated Nepal. The tolls of the disaster, one of the largest quakes of the century, are still unknown; as of now, deaths have surpassed 7,000 are expected to amount to 10,000 as the aftermath pans out. Currently, 10,348 Nepalese are injured with at least 454,769 displaced from destroyed homes.

As is the case with most modern disasters, international aid has been quick to flood the resource-drained country. Concerned onlookers from all over the world eagerly express their desire to contribute to disaster relief. With social media and crowdfunding campaigns making donations more possible than ever, the demography of donors is widespread and diverse.

As international social awareness displays a promising rise, young people, particularly college students, tend to dive into relief efforts by promoting awareness, donating money and engaging in volunteer organizations. Young people’s enthusiasm to ameliorate destruction in a far-off country is heartening. But, as more and more eyes find their way to a cause, the importance of exerting discretion and common sense in aid campaigns is increasingly important.

The problem with widespread, emotionally charged aid efforts is that it’s easy for a benefactor, no matter how honorable their intentions, to jump on the train too quickly. Without foresight and research, people can throw their contributions blindly and in the wrong direction.

We can use the chaotic aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake as a roadmap not to follow in Nepal. Following the disaster in Haiti, a similar and justified outpouring in international concern resulted in an influx of aid. Without a proper infrastructure to accept and distribute that aid, however, corruption flourished in Haiti, and those in the most need generally remained unaided by the frenzy of “benevolence.”

“In Haiti, hundreds of aid agencies wanted to plant their flag, appeal for funds and release photographs of their volunteers,” writes David Blair for The Telegraph. “In the process, they filled up valuable space on planes while adding almost nothing. The same must not be allowed to happen in Nepal.”

There is no reason for anyone interested in helping the victims of Nepal to be dissuaded by past missteps. In order for donors to make the most impact, however, we all need to follow a few guidelines in order to avert a secondary crisis in Nepal.

First and foremost, Nepal wants and needs your money above all else. In a time of turmoil and weak infrastructure, money is more valuable to relief agencies than old T-shirts, food and especially bodies of untrained volunteers. The Tribhuvan International Airport, which is the only international airport in Nepal, is congested with supplies and untrained volunteers, therefore preventing professionals from entering Nepal, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

While monetary donations may seem more impersonal than those of other supplies, they help the local economy by funding rescue purchases that can be made locally, and they can be streamlined directly toward the place of need without clogging vital transportation and other distribution resources.

Next, when searching for a place to send your money, it’s vital that you look for a reputable and transparent organization. Tragically, in times of disaster, fraudulent non-governmental organizations can be rampant: They take advantage of the chaos and charitable nature of others in order to profit and perpetuate corruption. These are certainly only a sliver of organizations; most relief NGOs are venerable and trustworthy. Nonetheless, donors should do their research before making contributions.

To ensure their aid is properly and efficiently utilized, benefactors must: 1) Select an organization that existed in Nepal before the quake; they are committed to the country in the long run and have existing connections in and knowledge of the place. 2) Look for transparency and targeting; the most reputable organizations are audited and describe specifically where and how aid will be put to use. Lastly, 3) be aware of the fact that pledged aid from international governments doesn’t always end up where intended.

“In the two years after the [Haitian] earthquake, the world promised [$8.8 billion USD] for Haiti,” Blair writes, “but even the most generous estimate suggests that less than half was ever disbursed.”

This means that individuals can’t depend on large organizations to send necessary aid. Your individual, targeted donations are valuable and necessary.

With damaged infrastructure and lack of solid government, Nepal will depend on international aid to spur its recovery. Generous and thoughtful donations will deter additional crises and foster direct, immediate and sustainable impact.

How to help? Send money.

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Hailey Dickson is a freshman studying public health and molecular & cellular biology. Follow her on Twitter.

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