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Coordination on the ground

One of the news items that has come out of Haiti disaster has been the disorganisation on the ground. Disasters in particular have issues when so many different organisations and countries (imagine the language issues alone never mind culture) are all trying to deliver and disseminate supplies. The fact that Haiti has such a smalll airport, which sustained damage, and a port which has been out of commission to date due to damage, has not helped. Yesterday Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the international humanitarian organisation, complained bitterly about having one of its airplanes denied landing privledges in Haiti, which I presume was due to a backlog of other aircraft being ahead of it. Yet it does highlight the issues with rescue and resupply operations. There has also been tension between the US military and some of the non-profit organisations.

This may in part be due to structural issues in terms of the flexible nature of non-profits and the more structured approach of military operations. What is interesting is that John O’Shea of the Irish charity GOAL was on the news magazine tv programme Ireland AM earlier today and said that he thought that the overall coordination for the operation in Haiti should be given to the US military as they had the command and control expertise necessary to pull over such an ambitious operation. With climate change increasing in the next ten years, the world will have to get better at coordinating such disasters; we have already seen what happens when coordination goes badly wrong with Katrina.

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