A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, complete with medical supplies, arrived in Cebu island Saturday looking for a flight to Tacloban, but hadn’t left by Tuesday. A spokesman for the group said it was “difficult to tell” when it would be able to leave.
“We are in contact with the authorities, but the (Tacloban) airport is only for the Philippines military use,” Lee Pik Kwan said in a telephone interview.
An Associated Press reporter drove through Tacloban for about 7 kilometers (4 miles) and saw more than 40 bodies. There was no evidence of any organized delivery of food, water or medical supplies, though piles of aid have begun to arrive at the airport. Some people lined up to get water from a hose, presumably from the city supply.
(Emphases mine.) You’d think world governments would have some sort of emergency plan and network figured out after the Boxing Day tsunami, Katrina and Tōhoku, but Infrastructure And Preparation (Or Lack Thereof).
The Cliff Mass Weather Blog suggests that resources are deployed on forecast, NOT on disaster. Hey, what a great idea! Why didn’t all the great government powers of the world think of that one before?
I’ve become a post-disaster waiter, as in someone who waits for a few weeks until the government-NGO machine sorts itself out following the initial shock and when the dammed-up aid starts flowing. Once those initial funds, food and supplies actually begin to get to survivors more efficiently, that’s when you are doing the most, short of being there. Weeks, months, years later, long after the media has forgotten about Haiyan and the disaster porn fades.
Then again, I know some organizations are doing their damndest right now. My top two are Médecins Sans Frontières (or Doctors Without Borders) and the UN-sponsored World Food Programme (WFP). Please donate to MSF and click on the radio button that says “earmark my donation for the Emergency Response Fund” and/or at WFP’s Typhoon Haiyan page. WFP is big on nutritional efficiency (check out their school meals program that has my forever support), so I believe it when they say that “for every $100 you give, WFP can provide 1,000 packs of [high-energy] biscuits.”
Other than that, missions and personal sources are the way to ensure that money will make it to the intended. You know how I feel about Judeo-Christian charity (“here’s a cot and two hot ones in exchange for your religious and cultural identity”), but a couple of friends have suggested truly Christ-like ones that I will share with you here the moment I have permission. Please talk to your friends and neighbors about a joint donation effort or seek out some vetted charities in your area. Charity Navigator is another good place to look.
Information and mapping efforts:
The scale of the storm’s destruction has been massive. In addition to collecting imagery, we need volunteers to help us map the devastation. In support of such efforts, DigitalGlobe has activated a crowdsourcing campaign, open to anyone willing to help … For this campaign, we will be releasing the crowd produced results to the open source community.
* Ushahidi is collecting crowdsourced information from the affected areas. You can follow them on Twitter. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team is on it again, so if you have an OpenStreetMap account, please (make one and) step in and help by adding any information or map data. The GISCorps is helping as well.
What else? You tell me.