From Ada City-County Emergency Management
Great intentions, bad results
They were filled with teddy bears, pajamas, winter clothing, birth control pills, half-used bottles of prescription drugs and ointments. Corporations sent tons of soon-to-be expired pharmaceuticals. The piles of unsolicited goods were too great to completely sort through.
Buried beneath care packages containing out-of-date antibiotics were the world’s most advanced malaria drugs. These were left untouched while people along the coast that had lost their homes and family members suffered from malarial fever from lack of treatment.
Available refrigerated storage space was minimal so many of these drugs became unusable. Consequently, most of the drugs had to be incinerated. The process cost donors and the Indonesian government millions.
Why cash is king
“Unfortunately inappropriate donations can do more harm than good and it often costs more to ship used goods than to buy new goods locally. Donated goods can also clog ports, preventing more immediate relief items from getting through.”
Florian Westphal of the International Committee of the Red Cross concurs. He believes that buying the goods locally not only saves on shipping costs but also puts money into a local economy that needs the business badly.
Westphal further states, "What you really want to be doing as much as possible is actually address the real needs of people on the ground. That's got to be the priority, and obviously cash gives you much more flexibility in terms of making sure that relief items you provide really correspond to what people need and what people are used to."
Haiti’s economy was suffering prior to the earthquake. Over two-thirds of the workforce did not have a formal job and 80 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. The earthquake did not heavily damage parts of Haiti and there was virtually no damage to the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Purchasing locally produced products from these locations will cost far less than transporting used donated goods. It will also create jobs, provide only the needed goods and maximize the dollars spent on the relief effort.
For more information on how to help In Haiti go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/haitiearthquake_embed or