PAHO/WHO in conjunction with UNICEF, OCHA, Intermon Oxfam, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the World Food Programme, have concluded the first draft of the “Guide on practical recommendations for humanitarian donations”, one of the major components of a pilot initiative financed by the Humanitarian Action Office of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation which seeks to raise awareness and promote exchange of experience amongst donors, authorities and communications media as to the importance of knowing how to make and seek efficient humanitarian donations in disaster situations.
There is nothing new about the problems and difficulties caused in an affected country by the arrival of large quantities of humanitarian aid when a large scale disaster has occurred, particularly if a number of procedures and basic principles are not followed; these have been on occasion recognized and analyzed by governments and cooperation agencies. For the drawing up of this guide, conclusions and recommendations reached in different international fora have been reviewed, and documents and guides from major international humanitarian agencies have been taken as a reference in order to assemble and present – in a practical and operational format – a summary of recommendations aimed at three essential actors: donors, national risk management organizations and communications media. The guide promotes exchange, knowledge and mutual collaboration between these three agents, with the aim of adopting better practices and to do away with attitudes and myths which slow down or compromise the donation process and the efficient use of these donations to alleviate the consequences of disasters. The guide presents an initial section with recommendations of a general kind, followed by three sub-sections on each one of these actors and brief sectoral sections on the themes of health; medicines, water and sanitation, children, food and shelter.
Some examples of the recommendations compiled are: with respect to authorities, the suggestion to plan and set up versatile mechanisms and tools for the receipt, selection and distribution of donations, as well as practising transparency and rapid accountability in the process of receiving and using donations. With respect to donors, they are advised to have prior knowledge of and to use existing mechanisms for coordination and management of donations to the affected country. With respect to the communications media, they are advised to perform a role of promoting and guaranteeing transparency, and to not contribute to the spread of myths which complicate the management of donations.