Collaboration is a powerful tool in addressing challenges and driving change — in fact, it’s what makes us humans special. And it makes perfect sense! When we team up, we combine our collective strengths and resources to maximize reach and impact.
That’s the idea behind the Humanitarian Coalition (HC), a public foundation that helps survivors of international humanitarian disasters. To help survivors of the Nepal earthquake, the Humanitarian Coalition currently has five member agencies on the ground, working around the clock to meet the most urgent needs.
Chimp talked to Executive Director Nicolas Moyer, to learn more about HC members’ work on the ground, the benefits of working collaboratively when a disaster strikes, and how Canadians can help people in need.
How is the Humanitarian Coalition helping on the ground right now?
NM: We have five member agencies, CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan Canada and Save the Children Canada. All of them are present on the ground at the moment, and have been present in Nepal for many decades. That means they had time to form strong relationships with communities in Nepal, which is very important in a situation like this, when a disaster has occurred.
When the earthquake happened our agencies were among the first ones to respond, and they are currently working on scaling up their response.
What’s needed most urgently right now is shelter, food, and child protection. We can’t emphasize the need of child protection enough.
There are a lot of children that have been separated from their families, so our members on the ground are providing care for these children right now and work on family reunifications.
What are the challenges organizations are facing in providing help at the moment?
NM: There are a number of challenges. Right now, we’re dealing with a lot of rain, which really hampers rescue efforts and causes landslides that block access to certain areas. There was a bottleneck at the Nepal airport, but the airport seems largely functional now and access routes from India are open, so supplies are getting into the country.
When it comes to responding to a humanitarian crisis, what are the benefits of a coalition between various organizations?
NM: The benefits of a coalition are very significant. We really should take a moment to pause and think about this. There are a lot of actors that play a role in disaster relief: local authorities, international governments, humanitarian agencies, and many more. All of them need to coordinate. It’s incredibly important in providing efficient, effective help. So, all these agents need to work together — and that’s what they’re doing right now in Nepal.
There also needs to be coordination with Canadians to make sure they receive the information they need. That’s why the Humanitarian Coalition has formed partnerships with private sector partners and media. Instead of various charitable organizations competing for ad space or airtime, we can combine our efforts and our media partners, Bell Media and Shaw, put out a public appeal for free. They wouldn’t do that for a single organization, but when organizations come together under one umbrella, that creates accountability.
How can people in North America help?
NM: Financial contributions are by far the most efficient and effective way to help, way more effective than donating goods. Getting products into Nepal is incredibly expensive and there are other considerations as well. For food donations, for example, we have to make sure the food is culturally appropriate. Or blankets. Are they the right size? The right material? Is that what’s needed most on the ground? Financial contributions allow us to make those decisions and get the best price for products by buying in bulk, for example.
In general, it’s really important that people here know that they can make a difference through financial contributions, and not just financial contributions: getting the word out is just as important.
Many Canadians are hesitant to give, because they don’t trust that their donation is actually making an impact on the ground. How does the Humanitarian Coalition ensure that donations are reaching people in need?
NM: It’s very important to us that Canadians know how significant their contributions are. If you really look at the financial process, there is a bit of a delay between making a donation and that donation being used, but contributions made now still directly finance relief efforts whether that is water, blankets or tents. Because of Canadians who donate or fundraise for Nepal, we can tell our partners on the ground ‘This money is coming your way soon’ and in the meantime free up existing financial resources to help them right away.
Donations also help us to make a long-term impact. There’s usually a lot of visibility in the first few days after a disaster, but the needs in Nepal are tremendous and will continue to be tremendous for a long time.
If you want to help survivors of the Nepal earthquake, please consider making a donation to the Humanitarian Coalition. You can make an online donation at together.ca, give through Chimp or text “TOGETHER” to 241010 to donate $10.
Photo Credit: Jessica Lea/DFID