Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ireland could bring its development aid expertise to bear on emergency relief

Ireland has established a good reputation in helping to deliver development aid, including in the recent Philippines crisis (left), but more can be achieved with a little strategic planning.
Ireland has established a good reputation in helping to deliver development aid, including in the recent Philippines crisis (left), but more can be achieved with a little strategic planning.

Graham Heaslip

Why does the international aid community fail to learn lessons from sudden-onset natural disasters? In Haiti, and more recently in the Philippines, the aid community has been too slow in delivering aid to those in need. In Ireland, the response to sudden-onset natural disasters is to send money, people and aid. But is that the most effective use of Ireland's resources?

The aid agencies in Ireland are primarily development agencies, and are renowned as such. However, just because you are a development agency doesn't mean that you are skilled at emergency relief. These are two distinctly different fields, requiring different competencies.

Organisations providing the first phase of disaster response need the logistical capacity and capabilities to deliver goods and services quickly to those impacted by an event. This involves not just having aid to deliver to those in need but also having the capability to transport and distribute the aid. Having highly trained logisticians is more important in dealing with emergency relief than in development aid.

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