As images of the devastation in Nepal are spread across the internet, the natural question for many of us is, “What can I do to help right now?” From afar, we can feel helpless, which leaves many people thinking that providing immediate support on the ground is the obvious answer. However, this is not the case for those lacking the necessary experience, skills and support infrastructure to provide emergency aid and disaster relief. In fact, an influx of unskilled aid workers immediately following a natural disaster can absorb scarce resources and slow down relief efforts, given the limited access to roads, shelter, food and clean water.
While International Volunteer HQ operates a volunteer program in Nepal, this program is not set up for disaster relief. Given the current situation in Nepal, the focus of our local team is ensuring that our volunteers, host families and local staff receive adequate support during this difficult time. We are working closely with our local team to ensure the infrastructure is in place to host future volunteers safely and securely as the situation improves.
Following Saturday’s earthquake, we have been contacted by people from all over the world wanting to join IVHQ in Nepal and while we appreciate all the kind thoughts and the willingness to help, the scale of the disaster has made accepting volunteers for upcoming start dates untenable at this time, given considerations such as access to clean water and safe accommodations.
If you want to know how you can help Nepal from home, here’s a list of ways you can provide immediate “digital” support to relief efforts, without jumping on a plane to Kathmandu.
Donate money online
Donate to reputable organizations to fund emergency relief and aid in Nepal. Remember no amount is too small to help make an impact. Ensure you do your research so you know where your money is going and use charity evaluator websites to make informed donation decisions.
I wanted to make a donation that would do the most good, so I chose the Red Cross Nepal Earthquake Appeal. They are well set-up on the ground in Nepal and gave me confidence my that donation would go towards items vital to the immediate relief effort, like shelter, medical care and clean drinking water. There are many options to choose from but accountability and transparency are critical, so make sure you check where your donation will go before opening your wallet. Dan Radcliffe, IVHQ Executive Director
Don’t donate goods – sell secondhand stuff online and donate the funds
Donating goods from home can be ineffective due to difficulties in distribution and in properly meeting the immediate needs of people in Nepal. Instead, sell your secondhand items online via auction sites such as eBay. Then you can donate the money from your sales to support aid organizations who are on the ground providing relief to people in distress.
Support digital mapping
If you have a computer and are willing to donate some time, you can help develop maps that support aid workers to get to people in need. Thanks to the open-source mapping platform, OpenStreetMap, digital volunteers have been updating the maps of Nepal’s earthquake-affected regions since Saturday, looking through satellite images of Nepal to label and map roads, buildings, and other vital structures that can help relief workers on the ground to get aid to where it is needed. You don’t need any special skills or experience to participate, and if it’s your first time using the platform, there are various guides and tutorials available to help you get started.
Since the devastating earthquake and aftershocks in Nepal, the response from volunteers around the world to help map the affected areas in Nepal has been extraordinary. Existing mapping clubs, newly interested groups and individuals from all over have come together to map hundreds of thousands of roads and tens of thousands of buildings. The data will be used by first responders such as the Red Cross, United Nations, local groups and others for planning, logistics, identifying needs and a lot more. It’s safe to say they play a key role in the response. Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
Encourage your social networks to donate
Don’t underestimate the power of your social media accounts to encourage your friends and family to provide support in the form of donations. Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp or Snapchat, there is no shortage of platforms you can use to bring together a squad of supporters. Share posts, tweets and links to reputable donation platforms to make donating easy for your networks. Imagine if you could encourage 100 people to donate $10 each, and they each encouraged 100 more, and so on…!