Natalie Jones: NGOs and disaster relief

Today is the first day of COY! Such an inspiring day so far, meeting lots of awesome people from around the world. Everyone here has an interesting story to tell. The first workshop I attended was about climate-related disasters, run by Taiwanese youth. Lisa's going to write more about it (and I broadly agree with what she says), but I want to share one other aspect of the workshop.

I found this diagram really useful to conceptualise the role of NGOs in disaster relief.


Immediately after the disaster, society leaps into full civil emergency mode. This quickly peaks and declines soon after the disaster. Later, reconstruction and rebuilding starts. This is a much longer-term response (clearly this graph isn't to scale). There's a gap which exists in between these two phases - the third phase, the transitional. In this phase, a gap exists which NGOs can fill. 

Of course, NGOs have integral contributory roles in both emergency response and the rebuild. We've seen this clearly in Christchurch, with the work of organisations like the Red Cross, the SVA and the Farmy Army, in the initial response, and GapFiller, LIVS, Ministry of Awesome, and FESTA, in rebuilding. In Christchurch, importantly, we also learned that initial response merges into transitional, which merges into the rebuild - again, as seen in the diagram. The line between transitional and permanent is especially fine when it comes to things like architecture, spaces and urban culture. 

With climate-related natural disasters predicted to rise dramatically in both frequency and intensity over the coming years, NGOs will be critical to recovery. And with the largest typhoon in history currently ravaging the Philippines, climate disasters are on everyone's minds here at COY. 


All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.

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