Home > Haiti, Uncategorized > “Why didn’t they…?” March 6

“Why didn’t they…?” March 6

Especially since Hurricane Katrina the “Government,” FEMA, the military, USAID, and large NGO’s have faced this question. In considering this other questions must be addressed

  • “Could they?” Probably not.
  • “Should they? Yes and No.
  • “Would we want them to? No.
  • “What would it mean if they?” A step backwards.

 Thinking primarily about possible government roles I note the following;

  • Separations of power between national elements of government and states restrict when and how US agencies engage.
  • Government agencies are encumbered by mandated processes.
  • Coordination across governmental silos and political pressures are factors.
  • Unlike NGO’s the government can not ask for donations for its use.
  • Assets, human and otherwise, available from government agencies, play a valuable role.
  • Government structures help control, coordinate, organize and regulate NGO relief efforts.
  • Volunteers trained and operating within the frameworks offered by NGO’s could not be replicated by a standing or contracted force.
  • Were we to create the expectation that disaster response was “covered” by government agencies or contracted service providers we would tragically marginalize our NGO community.
  • It is the nature of disasters that no structure; public, non profit or private is a substitute for individual preparedness in the 1st days following an event.
  • The critical endpoint is to get communities back to self sufficiency. This happens when their structures are again in place and outside supports depart. Governmental structures have a way of persisting.
  • We would not want to bear the cost of setting aside 100% of the resources “just in case” and do better preparing for base case contingencies and planning to fill the gaps.

 The opportunity to draw of the resources of the Supply Chain community is critical. Once the initial impact has been absorbed a disaster is defined by and continues because of failed Supply Chains. Resilience is a function of being able to stand up alternatives rapidly. Studies have shown that just as there is the “magic hour” that the shock trauma medical field works within so is there a short period of time for the social and economic structures to be reestablished if a community is to recover.

 Work to date is about visibility & networks ALAN has:

  • Made connections between NGO’s and identified partnering opportunities
  • Researched and shared donation, commercial and hybrid options with NGO’s
  • Promoted donations to NGO’s with likely needs
  • Connected needs with donors
  • Provided an industry window for NGO’s and visa versa
  • Connected NGO’s to potential business partners, ideally local to the NGO
  • Made connections between individuals with operating responsibilities in the disaster area.

 ALAN has a start. We have a respected presence in the governmental agency and NGO worlds. We sit on a technical platform which continues to evolve and to be adopted in the US (now 46 states) and internationally. We have an incredible industry association base. We have the opportunity to serve those with needs and enrich those who participate. We have opportunities to do much more.

 Thanks for your help.

Jock Menzies, ALAN president

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