Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Can an aid shipment be half empty?
I began to think how can a glass be half empty. Wouldn't half of empty be empty. The same goes for an aid shipment. I would prefer to think it was half full atleast. Kerry has established that the last records we have from Brian is that half the aid shipment went to the delta to releive suffereing for the disaster victims as we are calling them now. The suppliers and NGOs however say they have shipped all the goods and they were distributed. The taxi driver of Kerry has confirmed that in the areas where the deliveries took place that he did see the goods like those that were purchased but that many organisations were delivery the same type of goods similar to the UN distributions.So I think in this case we have to give the local organisations the benefit of the doubt as we still can't locate Brian.
The local organisations have formed a consortium called the Delta Development Forum and they are keen to work with on the recoevry phase of the operation as we now have 3 million USD targeted from our public appeal and instituational donors. Kerry is helping to consolidate the forum and has been holding workshops this week with the partners. The involvement of local organisations is unique in an operation like this and we are excited by the development.
Dave our Asia Emergency Coordinator will be leaving on Friday with Jennifer the Public Health advisor to assist in developing the next phase of the operation. The Asia desk will also be looking at sending someone in the next week as the crisis team will likely hand over the operation to them. Talk to you soon.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
As long as some of it gets there
We had a conference call this morning with Kerry. She is doing a really fantastic job now that Brian is missing. There has been some doubt as to whether all the aid has been received by the refugees (or displaced people or the disaster victims). In Brian last report he said that 50% had been delivered to the value of $270,000 and that the 2nd half was to have been delivered last Friday 24 hrs after Brian disappeared. The suppliers and partner organisations assured us that these goods have been delivered. It has been difficult for Kerry to verify the deliveries were made and Brian was not able to go with the deliveies as he was so busy corrdinating the aid in Yangon.
It is essential now that Kerry tries to find out if all the aid was delivered. In the conference call she said that here Taxi driver was willing to travel down to the delta to find out. That was really good news and the crisis team is a lot more confident now. Brian had made photos of the trucks leaving and the supplies and so we have good descriptions of the goods. Basically pretty identical to what the UN agencies are giving out. It saved us so much time being able to source them locally.
We should have some emergency unit staff in the area later this week now that the restrictions on visas are starting to lift.Things are really looking up now for the response and we should have some more feet on the ground soon. Still no news on Brian but we are hoping for the best and we are sure he will turn up soon.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Missing Brian and Visa
Kerry arrived yesterday at Brian hostel and could not find him. His friends from the hostel who have been helping on the response said he disappeared 48 hours ago after some of the suppliers arrived and a government official asked about his visa whether he had a business or work visa. Since then nothing has been heard. His backpack and clothes have gone. This create a real problem with the suppliers as we can't access Brians Visa and Master cards. Our appeal still has money to cover the $500,000 or so committed already one of our Inepd affiliate organisations has been able to help getting cash into the country now. So hopefully Kerry will be able to deal with the partner organisations and suppliers. They have formed a consortium to negotiate us with us which will make things go smoothly. Most of the local organisations thankfully have local registration so we should have limited problems with the government. Will update you soon. let's hope we can find Brian.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Brian informed us that he has ben having trouble making payment to suppliers as his visa card has a $400 USD daily withdrawal limit. This makes it difficult for him to access enough of $540,000 to pay suppliers as they will only take cash.It was ok for the first week where he was making deposits and buying small things for his hostel office room. His family have been great and we are trying towork with them and the bank to increase his credit limit. He also has a mastercard so we have topped that up so he will be able to access nearly $1000 a day. Really difficult conditions to work under. Well we are all behind Brian and we know he will be able to keep good relations with the suppliers until we resolve the money issue.
Kerry leaves tomorrow for Yangon and will be able to give a Brian a much needed break on a few fronts. Kerry has been giving really detailed briefings to the crisis team and it is a credit to here she has been able to absorb and distill all the information coming from reliefweb, alertnet and bbc world service. Well I'm off to the pub with some of the staff from the crisis team. We sure need a beer after the week we've had. Trish the Asia Manager wanted to present her teams problem tree on the cyclone but I think it can wait till next week.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I thought it might be interesting for those interested in Humanitarian work to see what type of organisation structure we use to organise a disaster. Below is an Organigram from HQ down to the field level of the people involved in the disaster response. As you can see I am not the only one managing the disaster and the crisis team is full of expertise needed to make the right decisions to aid the response. More news from the field and our first aid deliveries to the beneficiaries later today.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Supplies on the way
The first supply trucks have left to the disaster zone. Brian managed to procure several tons of grains, oil and pulses as wellas plastic sheeting and some buckets, pots and pans. Most other agencies are trying to fly or ship stuff in and it is a real credit to Brian that he has been able to procure things locally at a good rate and has save considerable expense. The quality is good of the supplies and similar to what UN agencies would normally supply. Our Emergency team members started arriving back yesterday and we are now waiting for their visa's which could take some time. Kerry's visa will be ready tomorow and she will be on the ground by the end of the week.
We are still having trouble with the money transfers apart from Brian's visa card so we have topped up his card again with the second tranche of $340,000. We will be having a conference call with Brian and the crisis team later this afternoon.The crisis team meetings have been really important to get the organisation together. Although they usually last 3-4 hours per day they are really critical for us to be able to move forward as a unit. The China earthquake could distract media attention from the cyclone and reduce our fund raising potential but we discuss contingencies for this I guess in the meeting.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Visa Access for Myanmar or Burma
Just a quick update. Brian was able to access his Visa card and draw on the first tranche of $200,000 from his accoount for the emergency relief. He said that he has sourced some suppliers in Yangon and will start placing orders. He has also found some local organisations that are interested in being part of our response. Things are really starting to move. Hats off to the finance and management team as well as Brian and Kerry who have been really working 24/7since the disaster broke.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Visa for Burma (or is it Myanmar)
Brian has been doing a great job setting up our reponse to the cyclone in Myanmar or Burma. He has been attending all the coordination meetings and has been give us regular sitreps. He has really taken up the ball with a can do attitude and is running with it. I think he is really one in a million I know when I was 22 that I could not have been able to set up a major disaster response like this. He really is an inspiration he has been responding to media keeping upto date on developments and giving us the heads up on a lot of issues as well as monitoring the security situation. We have been looking at different ways to get funds into the country so Brian can start hiring vehicles, staff and buying much needed relief supplies. We put a few thousand dollars onto Brian Visa card and this has allowed him to start the ball rolling. He has set up an office from his hostel room and getting some volunteer support from other backpackers. We will keep funding this way until we can find an alternative funding channel into the country. The Management team has agreed for the intial tranche of $575,000 USD for the response and we expect that about half will come from the institutional donors who are keen to fund us. The first $200,000 will be in Brian's account on Monday so he can start immediate purchase of relief supplies. He already has a number of supply leads at good prices.
Visa's are taking a little longer than expected. Most of the emergency team are out of the country and we are trying to divert to the emergency. Kerry our emergency team programme officer will go as soon as she gets a visa to handle communications and some of the coordination role in the field. Well it's all happening now and really no time to rest. The management team are really happy we are able to get things moving. We should be getting some good photos for the media and marketing this week to help with the fund raising.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Our man in Yangon
It has been a really tough time since news starting breaking of the devestation from the cyclone. Our appeal has been bringing a large amount of money and the management team are now putting pressure on the emergency team to come up with ideas on how to spend it. We luckily made contact with a guy who had volunteered for Inepd as a high street fundraiser and was on holidays. It was great to have a familar accent so that the media had an Inepd voice coming from the field. His first hand accounts have really helped raise our profile. Hopefully Brian will be able now to come up with plans on what is needed and start to organise the initial emergency response. We hope we can get some of the emergency team into action but visas can be tricky. I have to go we have another meeting with the management team and key key staff who are part of crisis team. Kerry our programme oofficer has been doing a great job with the briefings for the team. Brian will also be in on the conference call so that we stay grounded as well as getting that on the ground advice.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Humanitarian Couple of the Year Award
Mercedes our Media Manager here asked me to let you know of the Humanitarian Couple of the Year Awards. The awards will be held soon and the Spanish section of the International Network for Enabling Poverty Development is hosting the event this year. It is always good fun so get along if you are in town.
I haven't written for a long time and the disaster front has been a bit slow over the last couple of weeks. We will start to crank up some appeals focusing on Africa in the next few weeks. I will keep this short as I have team meeting with my staff in a few minutes.