Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti and International Aid bottlenecks.

Well, it's clear the 1st world doesn't get how to operate in third world disasters. Of course there's going to be fuel shortages. Of course the big trucks, planes and ships aren't all going to be able to land, dock, get through the blocked and damaged streets.

I was very interested to see last Wednesday that Al Roker said he saw the rescue teams from Iceland unloading bicycles. Did they hop on those bikes to get through the blocked roads and get to work right away? Because the first reports I heard of rescues by non-locals involved the team from Iceland. There's a reason people in these countries use so many bicycles, motorcycles and narrow 3-wheeled vehicles. Because they use so much less fuel and can navigate congested streets.

Why does all the aid have to go out in huge trucks? Why not load it into smaller vehicles. Hire the locals with their small pickups and other small vehicles. Pickup loads and even backpack loads of anti-biotics to the various clinics would have made a huge difference. Hop on a motor cycle, head out, ask locals to point you to a clinic, makeshift or otherwise.

Couldn't small boats be used to disperse supplies and crews along the shore of the bay the city seems to wrap around? The coast guard was there first. Don't they have small boats and helicopters. A report on the coast guard operating an aid station without a doctor, improvising with materials ripped from their ship was interesting. Too bad someone couldn't find them a doctor. They seemed to be doing good work and it would have been a good use of resources to send a doctor.

And small planes need to be used to get to the smaller airports in smaller cities, some of which are also devastated but receiving little aid.

And speaking of hiring or working with locals, they could have been used to clear helicoptor landing pads to deliver food throughout the city. I heard claims about fears of riots last week, but wasn't it obvious that riots would be more and more likely the longer people go without food?

And surely these organizations include people besides medical, search and rescue or security personnel that could have done things like start planning refugee camps. Last week, I mean.

I don't know why organizations that exist to respond to such disasters don't learn much from prior disastors. After hurricane Mitch, fuel shortages were a problem in Tegucigalpa and they had the benefit of there being a U.S. Military base with an airport an hour a way. And the ports were quickly clogged by aid shipments and remained so for months. And they are big ports, unlike the one in Haiti I'm sure. The ports in Honduras bring in the goods for all of Central America. I commented on both of those last Wednesday, especially after seeing local news reports of Houstonians collecting donations of goods for shipment to Haiti. Please keep them and send them in a few months. They will be needed then.
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