Critically assess the effectiveness of the relationship between NGOs, charitable organizations and the voluntary sector during the emergency response/relief phase of the DMC.
The contribution of NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector to disaster management efforts and especially in the response phase has not been emphasized. The relationship between NGOs, charitable organizations and the voluntary sector during the emergency response/relief phase of the disaster management cycle (DMC) is of utmost importance in enabling the meeting of goals and the purpose of each independent entity (Burnside-Lawry, Akama, & Rogers, 2013). NGOs do not have profit maximization intentions, are independent of governments, voluntary, and are fully focused on issues and activities that concern a myriad of developmental and social concerns. Charitable organizations have a similar aim, with the overall purpose being enabling people through issuance of help, food, money and other important life assets to those that need it. International charities such as UNICEF are some of the most popular players in this front (Mubah, 2003). The voluntary sector is an umbrella term referring to all organizations with the primary purpose of creating social impact as opposed to profits. Therefore, NGOs and charitable organizations are a part of the organized voluntary sector. In the event of a disaster, such as Hurricane Irma, the role of NGOs, the voluntary sector, and charitable organizations converge to that of quickly responding to create solutions that are aimed at saving as many lives as possible, given the resources at their disposal.
Relationship between NGOs, Charitable Organizations, and the Voluntary Sector
Although the terms voluntary sector, charitable organizations, and NGOs are sometimes used interchangeably, they have different objectives, description of roles, functioning style, legal status, economic strength, methodology, ideological affinity, motives, and socio-political orientation. The voluntary sector, charitable organizations, and NGOs are similar in the manner which they do not intend to make profits like a business association (Shaw, 2003). At their core, they are non-partisan and non-profit organizations. The main characteristic of these functions is their cooperative and humanitarian nature as opposed to being government-sponsored or profit oriented (Aminizade et al., 2017). These organizations share a relationship based on their volunteer work, love for humanity, social welfare, and other issues relating to the wellbeing of societies. The voluntary sector and especially charitable organizations are administered and controlled by a group of people in a society with a specific purpose to improve welfare. Volunteer groups may be either organized or spontaneous. Organized voluntary sector is made up of several organizations including responders in different scenarios such as: Save the Children, International and National Red Cross, Water Aid, St John Ambulance, Oxfam, Age UK, Samaritans, Salvation Army, Action Aid, UNICEF, Christian Aid, and Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). These organizations may take the form of non-governmental and not-for-profit entities. NGOs are international in nature, not established through inter-state agreements and has freedom of views. NGOs have a role in creating cooperation between key stakeholders such as governments and the people. In the event of a disaster, they provide the coordination necessary to bring about relief and response activities, by synchronizing the people, the government, and the international communities towards the same goal.
The Emergency Response/Relief Phase of the DMC
Disaster management is primarily intended to avoid or reduce potential loss from different hazards, assure appropriate and prompt assistance to disaster victims, and attain effective and rapid recovery (Coetzee & Van Niekerk, 2012). The DMC illustrates a continuous process through which stakeholders including governments, civil societies, and businesses plan for and minimize the impact of a disaster, react in the midst of it, and plan on recovering after occurrence. According to Jahangiri, Eivazi, & Mofazali (2017), appropriate action at every level of the cycle results in greater preparedness, reduced vulnerabilities, disaster prevention in a follow up iteration, and better warnings. The emergency response phase of a disaster requires major efforts to reduce the hazard(s) created. For example, activities during Hurricane Irma including emergency relief and search and rescue were all geared towards responding to the disaster and attempting to reduce the hazards that came out of it. Like every other critical piece in the DMC, the response phase plays a vital role in providing safety, preventing hazards, and ensuring that the general welfare of people is attained. The essentials of early recovery include the assurance of continuity for local governance, ensuring safety and security, maintenance of the rule of law, meeting emergent environmental challenges, reintegration of displaced persons, and the reunification of families and lost members of a society including vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those living with disabilities.
Emergency response is performed in the immediate aftermath of disasters. Response can be defined as the provision of emergency services and public assistance both during and immediately after a hazard. As further analyzed below, the response phase in the DMC is conducted in order to save lives, to reduce the health impact, in ensuring public safety, and in order to meet the basis subsistence needs of those affected. The main aim of the emergency response phase, as noted by Rotolo & Berg (2011), is to offer immediate assistance with the purpose of maintaining life, improving health, and supporting the morale in the affected populations. Personal safety and the welfare of people in the emergency and in the duration of the response stage are reliant on the level of preparedness. Response activities include actions such as the implementation of the disaster response plan, performing search and rescue activities, taking all necessary actions that are geared towards the protection of the individual, families, property, and so on. The phase also includes all activities that are intended to address the public perceptions on critical areas such as water and food safety. The said assistance is described by Bănică, Kourtit, & Nijkamp (2020) to include provision of specific but limited aid including offering transport for internally displaced people or refugees, providing temporary shelter for victims of a disaster, offering food and water to victims, and the establishment of semi-permanent settlements in camps and other controlled areas. Response, depending on the plan at play, may also include initial repair to damaged infrastructure such as sewer lines, power, phone cables, roads, and water systems. In this phase, response includes a focus on meeting basic needs of the affected populations until sustainable and permanent solutions are found. Humanitarian organizations including charitable organizations, NGOs, and the voluntary sector are strongly present in the response phase within the DMC.
Effectiveness of Stakeholder Relationships during the Emergency Response Phase
In the conventional disaster management cycle, the role of NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector have been coordination of response efforts. Specifically, NGOs have focused on the supply side in the response phase that includes the delivery of services, provision of developmental programs, and providing assistance to governmental bodies to increase the reach of programs. The demand side has been left to charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector. These groups have been involved in activities such as aiding communities to articulate concerns in the aftermath of a disaster, negotiating with local authorities for support, and the provision of technical kills in the communication process. As the disaster management process evolves, NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector are expected to take more roles including ensuring the adoption of successful approaches, educating and sensitizing the public, attuning official programs to public needs through offering local experience, operational collaboration, influencing local development policies, and helping other stakeholders craft more effective response strategies.
Executing recovery plans, lessening the likelihood for auxiliary damages, and planning for recuperation stages require the effectiveness of the roles played by each function. Therefore, NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector have different roles to play in the said process. Effective response phase includes a critical role played by NGOs and charitable organizations in creating and raising awareness amongst different entities. For example, during Hurricane Irma, NGOs were involved in rescue and safety operations, including providing temporary shelter, and transporting victims from different areas to safety zones. The voluntary sector is also mandated with the same roles and expectations, due to the advantage of being made up of both organized and spontaneous groups. The latter consists of community members and well-wishers who are usually a part of the disaster (McLennan, Whittaker, & Handmer, 2016). They have a better understanding of local governance, and the general culture of a location. During Hurricane Irma, spontaneous volunteer groups were made up of neighborhood groups, church organizations, off-duty law enforcement individuals, and different groups of people interested in lending a hand to the victims. The volunteer sector, charitable organizations, and NGOs act in different capacities and levels. They reach out to different groups. For example, volunteer groups have a deeper reach at the disaster location level. Charitable organizations may extend their reach to areas beyond the disaster zones. NGOs have the widest reach, being able to coordinate events between different nations, reaching out to other NGOs, governments, and international groups such as the United Nation’s different disaster recovery organizations. Therefore, effectiveness entails communication and coordination in order to meet the goals of avoiding and reducing losses due to a disaster, assuring assistance to victims, and attaining effective and rapid recovery.
Challenges Associated with the Recovery Processes
The relationship between NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector is one of the most important factors in determining the effectiveness of their role in the response phase. Even though these groups act independently, they are faced with the same problems, made unique by the type of disaster, local authority, and other critical elements. The main challenges linked to the response phase include failure of these groups in strictly applying the rule of the law, a notable lack of education and training about disaster risks for the voluntary sector, poor planning, lack of an effective coordination sector, unstable security situations, citizen interventions, lack of equipment, tools or infrastructure required to perform their roles, and inadequate financial resources. Response plans rarely include NGOs, voluntary sector, and charitable organizations in the framework, including a definition of roles and clear guidelines on what is expected of different groups based on specialization, resources available, and their reach. Therefore, for example, voluntary sector members such as church groups and other spontaneous volunteer groups are sometimes expected to perform at the same level with well-established organizations such as the International Red Cross or the Salvation Army. Education and training on what to do in the event of a disaster, especially in the response phase is a major challenge. The lack of training leads to command and coordination problems, a lack of communication and misinformation, overcrowding, poor assessment, and a lack of cultural integration. The involvement of NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector, including the creation of a relationship in the response phase is necessary to achieve effectiveness and the successful achievement of disaster management goals.
Disaster management is primarily intended to avoid or reduce potential loss from different hazards, assure appropriate and prompt assistance to disaster victims, and attain effective and rapid recovery. Humanitarian organizations including charitable organizations, NGOs, and the voluntary sector are strongly present in the response phase within the DMC. In the event of a disaster, the role of NGOs, the voluntary sector, and charitable organizations converge to that of quickly responding to create solutions that are aimed at saving as many lives as possible, given the resources at their disposal. The main characteristic of these functions is their cooperative and humanitarian nature as opposed to being government-sponsored or profit oriented. These organizations share a relationship based on their volunteer work, love for humanity, social welfare, and other issues relating to the wellbeing of societies. In the conventional disaster management cycle, the role of NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector have been coordination of response efforts. The demand side has been left to charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector. A major problem and challenge that reduces effectiveness of the relationship between NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector is that response plans rarely include NGOs, voluntary sector, and charitable organizations in the framework, including a definition of roles and clear guidelines on what is expected of different groups based on specialization, resources available, and their reach. Therefore, the relationship between NGOs, charitable organizations, and the voluntary sector is one of the most important factors in determining the effectiveness of their role in the response phase, and the challenges to this relationship threatens the success of a response plan.
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