Many organizations are working on Japan’s disaster relief efforts by creating vehicles to collect funds to benefit survivors. Immediate relief efforts are important and necessary and the American Red Cross is doing the bulk of this work. In all disasters, I find that medium and long-term support is critical and usually missing from the conversation. In addition, many donors turn to international organizations but also important in the rebuilding process is supporting local, on-the-ground non-profit organizations. Additional funds strengthens their capacity and who better knows what is needed than local expertise – folks familiar with the issues, language, culture, and is actually dealing with the situation?
Below is Give2Asia’s strategy on their approach and one that resonates with me (disclosure – I work at Give2Asia):
On March 11, 2011 an 8.9 earthquake struck the northeast coast of Japan near the city of Sendai. The earthquake generated a massive tsunami with waves as high as 30 feet, resulting in floods, fires, and the closure of airports and transit systems. Thousands of people were killed, and homes, fields and towns were flooded or destroyed completely. The disaster also affected Japan’s nuclear power infrastructure causing radiation leaks and shutting down at least three of the plants supplying electricity for the entire country.
Give2Asia’s primary focus after a disaster is to support medium- and long-term recovery efforts. We also support relief activities, especially when the needs are acute and prolonged. While each disaster in each location is unique, we focus our support on programs that facilitate sustainable recovery for the affected communities, including psychosocial healing for survivors, education programs to get youth back in school as quickly as possible, and skills training to help rebuild the local economy. We believe in supporting local organizations that have established relationships with the affected communities whenever possible. These organizations have the knowledge and relationships to provide appropriate assistance that respects and involves the survivors. Because conditions and needs change rapidly in a post-disaster situation, Give2Asia strikes a balance that is flexible while also ensuring transparency and accountability as to how funds are used.
Through our on-the-ground presence and advisors, we have knowledge of and access to many local non- profit organizations. Our local advisor is providing us with updates on the situation and emerging needs on an ongoing basis, and will recommend local organizations and projects responding to the disaster as information becomes available.