Haiti: Getting It There Without Getting In The Way (for those special cases where in-kind donations are needed)
Since last week, we have been emphasizing the need for financial contributions (see Haiti: How Can I Help). Cash allows aid professionals to procure the exact items needed from the nearest sources. It also reduces the burden on scarce resources such as transportation routes and warehouse space.
The history of disaster relief response is rife with horror stories of misguided in-kind donations. For example:
- Bangladeshi cyclone victims receiving donations of TV dinners requiring microwaves
- Breastfeeding mothers receiving baby formula
- See also: Teaching Americans What Haiti Needs: Money (Stephanie Strom, NY Times); Choosing organizations to donate to after the Haiti earthquake (Saundra Schimmelpfennig, Good Intentions Are Not Enough); Nobody wants your old shoes: How not to help in Haiti (Alaina Shaikh, AidWatch) and our post yesterday, Haiti: “Cutting Through the Noise” – Effective donor help during the immediate relief phase
However, there are a few, special cases in which donors have access to very specific supplies listed on the wish lists of organizations operating on the ground (e.g., antibiotics, surgical supplies).
For example, if you know that a Haitian clinic has a wish list of antibiotics and pain medications, and you have access to large quantities of those pharmaceuticals ready to donate, you are likely wondering how to get them into the right hands without getting in the way or adding to the chaos.
In situations like these, you need an organization that specializes in stop-gap logistics and supply chain support. Several organizations are filling this role in Haiti and for the border areas in the Dominican Republic. Here are some examples of organizations you can contact, particularly in the area of urgently needed medical supplies:
- Adventist Development and Relief Agency – they are operating a hospital just outside of Port-au-Prince, but are also providing supply chain logistics to government hospitals and those of partner organizations. They have a central office and warehouse in the Dominican Republic that is serving as a distribution center. 1-800-424-2372
- Americares – They have a variety of national and international programs, but in the case of Haiti they are specializing in providing medical supplies to organizations with ground operations. They are working quickly to respond to the evolving needs. 1-800-486-HELP (4357)
- Medical Assistance Programs, Int’l (MAP) – They specialize in supply chain logistics for hospitals and clinics around the world and they have a team on the ground conducting needs assessments.1-800-225-8550
Thanks to CHIP Team members, Katherine Summers, Carol McLaughlin, Kate Barrett, and Kat Rosqueta for supporting information.