"With the recent earthquakes in both Haiti and Chile, everyone wants to help but many people struggle with the best way to do so. Choosing the best way to give is important as there are far too many examples of aid doing more harm than good. One common problem is the well-intentioned donation of medicine. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent after each major disaster disposing of metric tons of donated medicines that were inappropriate, incorrectly labeled, or unnecessary.
"As a leading expert in the post-2004 tsunami recovery efforts in Thailand, I have seen the impact of aid through the eyes of disaster survivors, government officials, religious leaders, aid organizations, the United Nations, and individual donors. This experience showed me the power of individual donors. The choices they make and the pressures they place on aid organizations affect the type and quality of aid after a disaster.
"The following Do and Don'ts provides answers to common questions and guidance in deciding how to best help after a disaster."
Saundra Schimmelpfennig, The Huffingron Post, March 12, 2010