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Typhoon Haiyan: How Not to Help

November 12, 2013

When faced with news of the destruction in the Philippines, many of us wonder what we can do. According to Jessica Alexander, a longtime humanitarian aid worker, the answer is straightforward. Alexander writes in Slate:

There is one simple way that people who want to help can help. Donate money — not teddy bears, not old shoes, not breast milk. Give money to organizations that have worked in the affected areas before the storm—they will be more likely to know and be able to navigate the local context and may be able to respond faster, as it won’t take them time to set up.

Why, according to Alexander, is money the best thing to donate? Access is the issue:

Roundtrip travel on the 11-kilometer road which connects the airport to the city of Tacloban currently takes about six hours; it is the only cleared road, according the U.N. ... Consider what happens when a plane full of unwanted donations is competing for runway space with planes carrying needed medicines and food items. Someone has to unload those donations, someone needs to sort through them for customs, someone needs to truck them to affected areas which are hard to reach anyway and where there’s a limited supply of fuel. When old shoes and clothes are sent from the U.S., they just waste people’s time and slow down getting lifesaving medicines and food to affected people.  

Please visit Slate to read the entire insightful and informative piece

And please also consider donating to one of the organizations listed here.

MORE: Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts (PHOTOS)

Philppine police commandoes along with relief goods board a US C-130 military plane heading to the disaster struck area of Tacloban, at a military base in Manila on Nov. 11, 2013. (Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images)


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