Aid Groups: We're Not Being Held Back By Red Tape

The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, in Marsh Harbour, Abaco in September, 2019.
(AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, in Marsh Harbour, Abaco in September, 2019. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)


Tribune Staff Reporter


REPRESENTATIVES of international organisations providing relief to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian said yesterday red tape has not hindered their efforts.

During a press conference, leaders of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samaritan’s Purse and World Central Kitchen described a smooth process getting services to people affected by the storm in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

They suggested less organised groups, ones that do not coordinate directly with NEMA, are likelier to encounter difficulty processing their goods.

“What I am seeing that is going to be a problem is there are thousands and thousands of unsolicited donations and (that have to be sorted and organised),” said Ken Isaacs, vice president of programmes and government relations for Samaritan’s Purse. “This is not unusual in response to a crisis. Good-hearted people are sending things in but they’re not necessarily classified or prequalified. That does become a material management issue. We as an organisation are trying to avoid that because we’re standardising what we’re bringing in and distributing it but there will be that issue and there are going to be those reports and the Red Cross is working diligently with their partners to resolve it as well as NEMA. If you go to the airport you see all of the boxes that are coming in, people are bringing them and setting them down on the runway and unfortunately that’s part of the nature of what can happen.”

Nate Mook, the interim executive director for World Central Kitchen, said NEMA has quickly established a process for allowing them to bring goods in and get them to those in need.

“I think as long as the international organisations are working closely with NEMA and following the protocols and making sure the proper authorities are notified and working with the Port Authority, (it will be fine),” he said.

“Talking specifically about Grand Bahama, things have been going very smoothly, we haven’t had any problems. I think a lot of the issues that you might be hearing about are stemming from donations, an outpouring of support, people want to send in planes, they fill up with things, they don’t know where they end destination is, but from our perspective it’s been going pretty smoothly. I could only speak on the food side of things and we track very closely since we’re producing the foods and also working on the delivery of the food so we have exact maps and numbers and communities and where things are going. I know for us at least we can make sure that anything coming in is coming through our kitchen and being distributed out.”

Tim Callahan, the senior regional advisor for Latin American and the Caribbean at USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, said he hasn’t heard criticism of red tape.

For his part, Carl Smith, NEMA’s spokesperson, said some red tape is necessary to avoid compounding the disaster by wasting donations.

He talked about his experience in Grenada where unnecessary winter clothing was donated and medication and food became expired.

“They call it red tape, but we are not refusing, we are saying everyone wants to donate, that is wonderful but at certain times during the disaster process certain items have priority and we need to get those ahead of what you want to give,” he said.


SP 1 year, 2 months ago

Strictly from a businessman point of view, donated goods not properly channeled through NEMA should be quickly, and automatically channeled through to government-authorized organizations for identification and assignment for delivery to localized distributors in areas of need.

There is no acceptable reason for any confusion or delays!

NEMA should be focusing on simply "further forwarding" donated goods to recognized organizations on the ground with administrative and distribution ability to get donated goods to people in need.


Porcupine 1 year, 2 months ago

I know for a fact that large number of donors in Florida are working together to "bypass" the Bahamian government, because they say their efforts are being stymied. Justice delayed, is justice denied. Just like disaster relief. These are not fly by night operations that are saying this. They have the money, means and organizational skills to have accomplished these tasks many times over. Perhaps we should invite them over.


The_Oracle 1 year, 2 months ago

Learn the process then work the process, it has been going very well in my experience.


concernedcitizen 1 year, 2 months ago

For all of the noise and the "political mischief " being spread on certain "news " sites and social media , here are three of the major international aid agencies reps. in print saying that NEMA is organized and functioning and good and services they provide are reaching the people that are in need .


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