A report by the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition named the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as one of the worst disasters in terms of international response. There is too much to do at once, so it is crucial to start with the most pertinent tasks and work from there. It is important for NGOs to understand how the military will contribute to relief efforts, such as transportation and security oversight. NGOs should disburse messages concerning when and where to receive aid, public health information and notices concerning missing persons. Disadvantaged groups, such as women and young girls, will need a special set of needs which may require more effort on behalf of relief agencies. NGOs must be transparent about their efforts and utilize media outlets to communicate with both the local population and other agencies. It may take many years before it is possible to construct quality permanent houses, but it is better to keep temporary housing than to hastily rush into building permanent structures. Plan International operates in more than 50 countries worldwide to promote children’s rights and alleviate poverty.  The organization has already raised more than $13 million to Haiyan relief and has several programs at work on the ground in the Philippines.
Many international voluntary organizations deliver humanitarian relief for people caught in large scale disasters, such as the super typhoon that devastated the city of Tacloban and other areas of the Philippines. Before you go, you can get immediate background health and safety information for the county involved in the disaster by registering you destination with Sitata. If you take medications, are pregnant or have a chronic health condition, check with your doctor to be sure you will be ok where you are going.
At Sitata, we recommend that all international travellers assemble and carry a travel health kit, but this is even more true for relief workers.

Often in a disaster, buildings will become unstable and structural collapses or falling debris can be common. The most important thing that you can do is to keep yourself healthy and safe so that you can continue to support those in need. Among the destruction, displacement and chaos, it can often be difficult for development and relief agencies to efficiently disburse aid.
Relief agencies showed the greatest weakness in understanding cultural complexities, catering to the local context and working with local communities and organizations, states the development agency called Devex. Roger Yates of Plan International presents his list of 10 tips for NGOs engaging in disaster response, many of which focus on a piqued awareness of local context. Flexibility is also important, as priorities may change as the situation develops and circumstances change. NGOs should work closely with grassroots organizations and community leaders to tailor their relief efforts. Other actors will bring a diverse set of skills that can be utilized in conjunction with NGOs. Purchasing local goods and giving money directly through cash transfers will help to restart the economy. An American Red Cross study recently found that more than 40% of aid workers found their experience to be more stressful than expected.
Studies have indicated that more than 30% of aid workers report depression shortly after returning home. Typhoons like Haiyan are especially difficult, as the scope of the damage done is still unknown.

If you are an international volunteer, your immunizations have to be up-to-date and appropriate disease prevention measures such as anti-malaria medication, must be on hand to maintain your health. If new health or safety risks develop at the site where you are working, Sitata will provide you with an instant electronic alert. In addition, you should consider registering your travel itinerary with your government before leaving or at your embassy when you arrive. The source of your stress could be a number of things such as exposure to violence, illness, death, and destruction.
Christopher Van Tilburg, Editor, NewsShare and Communications, International Society of Travel Medicine, who has also compiled a quick check list to guide international emergency response workers going to disaster sites. You have to consider your personal health and welfare before, during, and after the assignment. Some aid workers have found that brining family photos can help as it will remind you of the world you left behind. Personal security and stress may be issues. You may have to be self-supporting with your own food, water, medical equipment, shelter, etc. For example, you should try to stay with your humanitarian group at all times and avoid drifting into unfamiliar territory on your own.

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Rubric: Emergency Preparedness Survival


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