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Humanitarian Assistance in Disaster Situations

"A hurried response that is not based on an impartial assessment only contributes to chaos. It is better to wait until real needs have been assessed . . . It is more economical, appropriate and hygienic to buy new articles locally than to send used items . . . Donors should not compete among themselves to satisfy the more visible needs of the affected country . . . Emergency assistance should complement--rather than duplicate--the measures used by the affected country."

These are some examples of the practical advice and recommendations offered in the Guide for Effective Aid. It provides strong evidence that humanitarian assistance can considerably benefit a country ravaged by disaster if it responds with real needs. Likewise, when responding with unsolicited donations, or when donors have a misguided view of those needs, it can also become a burden.

This guide combines and updates several PAHO publications. We hope their recommendations and principles will help donors and beneficiaries in making their decisions to maximize the benefits in the short and long terms for the countries affected by natural and complex disasters.

This book can be ordered from PAHO's Emergency Preparedness Area ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), or can be downloaded as PDF file. You need to have installed Adobe Acrobat Reader to read these files. It can be obtained free of charge from the Adobe Website.

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