WFP – 16 November 2020
Suva, Fiji – As the 2020 Pacific cyclone season is now upon us, the World Food Programme is launching a website to highlight the need for donating responsibly after disasters. Launched today the DonateResponsibly website aims to educate and inform Australian and New Zealand audiences about why donating goods overseas after disasters can be unhelpful and even harmful. Its mission is to promote more effective ways to donate.
Cyclones can devastate, donations don’t have to.
Shortly after a major disaster in the Pacific, there is often an influx of unrequested donated goods sent by generous and well-meaning donors such as community groups, companies and individuals. The volume can be significant enough to hamper and overwhelm response efforts. These unexpected goods take up valuable port and warehouse space, can block vital aid getting through and stretch the resources of first responders. Sorting through container-loads of unknown donated goods is a major task and with limited hands to help, may not happen for some time, if at all. These unsolicited goods are often deemed unusable for various reasons and need to be disposed of, often ending up in landfill. The reality is people’s generosity, time and money are often wasted and for the disaster-affected country on the receiving-end, the cost of dealing with these donations can be in the millions – money which could have been better spent on relief and rebuilding efforts.
“The stories you read on this website are real examples” said Jo Pilgrim, Director of WFP’s Pacific Multi- Country office. “Working closely with Pacific National Disaster Management Offices on the ground, WFP has experienced first-hand the problems donated goods have caused after major cyclones in the region such as Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015 and Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2017 and this compelled us to try and tackle this complex issue. DonateResponsibly carries on the great work already done in this space by the US Centre for International Disaster Information (CIDI), the Australian Red Cross and others. We have worked closely with the Councils for international development in both Australia (ACFID) and New Zealand (CID) as well as Pacific diaspora communities to better understand why people donate goods, with the end-goal to change donation behavior for the better. And with the generous support from the Government of Japan, we were able to create this fun and interactive website which hopes to do exactly that.”
The website takes users on a journey to discover why the donations thought to be helpful may have the opposite effect. Visitors to the site can read about the inappropriate things sent to a disaster zones, as well as calculate their impact by comparing what emergency supplies can be bought for the same price as sending goods. DonateResponsibly does not promote any one organisation or donation method but gives people the facts and resources they need to decide the best way for them to donate responsibly and effectively.
Monica Salvitti – WFP Pacific, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. + 61 400 406 886
Kun Li – WFP Bangkok, email@example.com
Tel. +66 84 555 899
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.