You came to assess on Sun, calamity on Thur/Fri – Fri was eye making landfall. Magnitude of Haiyan known days in advance. PH Red Cross Head told news they prestaged shelters for 20,000 knowing there would be possibly 11 million in need of shelter, food & water. Money given for NGOs, Red Cross, govts & agencies is being divided with lion’s share being put in portfolios of stocks & financial products as an account to use later for “rebuilding”.
It is us watching stacks of food & water sit in the rain on tarmac while you fly over and assess and have all aid resources & personnel on standby “waiting” at full cost of doing so. We see people dying for lack of those medicines, baby formulas, water, food, tents & sanitation aids with pallets of them sitting on tarmacs & in military protected warehouses not handing them out. And, we see long lines of 6, 8 and 12 hours of people standing in the sun, humidity, rain and stench to not get food, medicines, medical help or water – but to REGISTER to get it. That is insane.
Reply I made to Oxfam Intnl Worker’s Post -
Why aid delivery isn’t instant — and ways it could be faster
And after taking a walk to think about it between originally reading their blog post and then sitting down to reply to it, I realized – I’ve got more to say about it -
The other day, as the event was unfolding a contractor was running all over twitter commenting and re-commenting about any mention anyone made that aid was not getting to the survivors of Haiyan fast enough (or at all.) And, after checking his twitter page for what company he is with, it occurred to me how much money has been spent on consultants, contractors and companies to help every single NGO, Red Cross branch and executive plus coordinating teams, UN teams and disaster relief coordinator teams, agencies, governments along with their agencies, conferences and their groups of attendees, interested parties and every other single facet of disaster preparedness funding group, disaster response teams and groups and funding sources – etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.
There have been literally billions if not trillions of dollars spent on these consultants and contractors creating paradigms for response. for preparedness and prestaging of resources before and immediately DURING an event unfolding. AND countless manhours both volunteer and ridiculously highly paid, that couldn’t apparently tell one nation – in this case, the Philippines to get damn SAT phones in the hands of all their government agencies and local govt responders and decision-makers plus pay for them – in a country that is regularly and commonly hit with massive natural disasters and extreme weather events of the most destructive nature.
And, it isn’t the one and only stupid concept in play. We watch – and I am meaning – everyone who participates as volunteers and interested human beings of the international community as well as donors of goods, services and funding – or helpers who raise that funding and make every effort to do so – WE WATCH as that aid sits in warehouses not being distributed and people having been devastated, traumatized and hurt, hungry, alone, scared, dying of thirst – look upon those pallets of aid and cannot get any of it for days, upon days upon days – sometimes as it literally ruins sitting there (both on the tarmac and in warehouses “protected” from looting.) We watched it in the Philippines this time. We watched it in Haiti – but we’ve also seen it in every single disaster that has unfolded.
Aid funding comes in and before the week is out – despite hundreds of billions of dollars previously available for these organizations and agencies and despite hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more – being given in the direct and current donations for the specific event – there is supposedly “not enough money to do anything or not enough to do it for everyone who has been affected or whose lives have been obliterated by the event.”
That is partly happening because directors, CEOs and others in the industry of disaster relief (even non-profits) have divided up the funds as they are received into piles of accounts which are being diverted FROM actual resources for the event and its survivors’ needs.
One of those funding diversions of capital is by profit-driven fund raising companies having been contracted to do the fund-raising for the organization, agency, NGO, non-profit, church, UN org or who the hell ever is trying to raise money for the aid. That, in some cases is literally taking the lion’s share of what comes in – some places I’ve read it can be as much as 70-90% of the original donation totals going through those profit-based fund-raising contractors belong to that company and do not go to the charities, organizations, NGOs, agencies, UN or disaster relief efforts.
Then, of the remaining funds getting to the NGOs, agencies, UN branches for distribution and organizations whether Red Cross, Oxfam or even Religious-based charities and disaster response efforts, something between 2/3 and 3/4 of the donations finally received (having been skimmed for over 70%+ off the top already by profit driven companies doing the fund raising efforts), are being set aside into portfolios of financial products, stocks and other dividend receiving long-term assets to be “used” later as rebuilding and infrastructure building funds several years after the event.
However, when it comes time to do that rebuilding and infrastructure building – more often that not, those have to be done with some other funding because low and behold those organizations can’t be expected to help with that too after all the other things they’ve done already. And, then the country, township, local organizations, individuals, businesses, churches, local governments, regional infrastructure building committees end up having to go elsewhere to either apply for the money – OR more likely, to get a loan from the big development banks to do the rebuilding and infrastructure building projects with funding for each little element of it taking years, upon years upon years to get applied for individually and funded. It is wrong and has been costing lives. In that interim using this process over the last however many years it has been in play, each event compounds the difficulties of the last, because the process to fix or remedy anything is taking years alone all by itself.
Then the new disaster of the moment doesn’t even have the infrastructure to have any real chance of surviving it effectively because damages haven’t been fixed from the last one. But the loan requests are tying up everyone’s time to get them done and I suppose all those people involved at that level have a nice place to live that has good regular electricity and clean running water and toilets and is highly paid anyway – so what is a few more years of waiting going to make any difference to them personally anyway?
And, the other element I’d like to address is this one -
When a typhoon, hurricane, cyclone, flooding, massively heavy rains, flooding rains that are likely to cause landslides, or storm systems likely to spawn tornadoes., or rivers are known to be cresting at flood stage, and when storm surges are known to be coming as part of a storm – prestaging elements and supplies and resources and teams to respond to those events are not a surprise, nor need to be done only after the disaster has already wreaked havoc. THAT is why it is called “pre-staging”. It is done in anticipation of events whose scope and dangers are fairly easy to know of – ahead of time and do some things expecting that their damaging effects will be certain, widespread and life-threatening.
What I see happening from my interactive point of interest – is that pre-staging and preparations are being done with understated resourcing numbers – such as prestaging tent shelters to be available for 20,000 families knowing that somewhere between 2 and 11 million lives are in harm’s way. That is stupid.
But, even more stupid, is having every single thing and aid and equipment and personnel wait to respond until two or three days later (or thereafter) when some decision-making wazoo gets up in an airplane or helicopter to assess the place and then make a report back at their nice hotel out of harm’s way and away goes the hours most needed for the damn response.
I can see where, back at the nicely comfortable nearly unaffected areas, coordinators sent to coordinate and decision-makers sent to make decisions who come and make arrangements to go see the disaster zones when those arrangements should’ve been made before they got there. And being facetious about it – I’d say those arrangements maybe could’ve been made before the event considering Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda was a 370 mile wide hurricane that took days to develop and was well known in its scope and amplitude and destructive power.
Then, from those nice hotel areas and govt bldgs nicely appointed, coordinators and decision-makers are deciding from there – that all the aid which is available already on the ground in affected areas is to wait until tomorrow or the next day or whenever to be given out to anyone AND that it can’t be given out until everybody has been registered to receive any of it. And, they sit back in a nice chair in their beautifully appointed hotel room after having a nice bath and after a nice comfy dinner in a nice clean expensive restaurant and after doing that fly-over for assessment and they do that “assessing” report plus computer and phone interactions, sometimes meetings and charts -
AND in the meantime everyone in the affected disaster zone (and us here watching the news) are seeing the food, water, medicines, baby formula, tents, clothing, and pallets of aid sit on the tarmac under plastic with rain hitting it and not one bit going to help anybody.
Or the survivors start scouting for resources knowing the military has been sent not to give out food but to protect the warehouse that is storing the aid sent on the last disaster or put in for this one and that includes everything from rice to water to tents and cooking supplies and baby stuff and medicines and antibiotic ointments – but there it is and the only decision that can be made is to stick troops around it so nobody can get to any of it while “assessments” are being done and “registration” methods are being set up to receive any of it (which take money, time and manhours to do – still without having given one thing of food, water or medicine to anybody.)
That first 24 hours is the difference, not only of life and death, but those survivors have been fully traumatized, physically hurt usually, their family members and children and neighbors are hurt, there is no clean water, food is ruined, people are dead or dying that they care about, they need every bit of strength for surviving it further, let alone to help others around them to continue surviving the event and its aftermath – and our resources to help are tied up in STUPID bureaucratic nightmarish STUPID approaches to hand them that food, water, medicines and resources we’ve donated money to have for them. It wasn’t money given to pay these huge $200,000 a year plus salaries to employees and administrators of every agency and organization handling any of it. It wasn’t money given to support the profits of some fund-raising business model for another company not even involved in disaster relief and recovery. None of us that gave time, money and resources, gave them for those resources and funds to be given by the millions to contractors, consultants and financial brokers’ fees to trade them in portfolios within the organization’s or agencies’ “accounts”. That wasn’t why I would have sacrificed even ONE SINGLE DOLLAR to give towards these efforts.
And, especially knowing what I can see of it right now from here – not even impacted by it and disgusted with what I’ve watched happen in disaster after disaster after disaster across the world as those with our donated funds and resources astoundingly can’t hand these affected populations food, water and medicine even within the first week after the event has devastated them and everything around them. The fact is – there are helicopters, it doesn’t rely on roads to drop food and water and medicines and baby formula and tents to people.
It doesn’t require consultants and $30 million a contract to tell you that many nations under constant threat of wind, rain, flooding, avalanche, landslides, mud slides, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, massive earthquakes – need solar charged SAT phones to interact after those events – or SAT SLeeves for their cellphones. It isn’t rocket science to see any weather map and note the conditions and scope about to become a major life-threatening event to large populations. That is why those in disaster recovery organizations as directors, executives, administrators, coordinators and other decision-maker teams at the top are supposedly making over $250,000 a year each and sometimes substantially more than that – even in “non-profits” – it is to have the common sense it takes to know these things and put that applied common sense into action before, during and after these events.
Just to note – if you’ve never read some of the garbled constructions of what this disaster aid and its funding are supposed to accomplish in infrastructure rebuilding – go read it. They are not to be believed in the degree of extreme bullshit intellectually written that defies the common sense found in any five-year old.
Check it out. It is unbelievable.