How to Contribute to the Tragedy Caused by Floods in a Positive Way?

After you see the suffering of the people in Andhra Pradesh from the recent floods, it is but natural to feel a need to contribute to better their current conditions. Your thoughts are noble and you follow it up with actions. However, in order to ensure that your end goal actually causes a positive impact at the ground level, you need to take one more step. Be careful about who you are supporting!

Firstly, no voluntary organization can match the scale of the Government machinery both in terms of their infrastructure (fixed and movable), their awareness of the details of the region and the sheer number of people that work for the government in the affected areas. They can change the priorities of their employees for a few weeks and it is possible to commit a large number of people, equipment, and local knowledge. In addition, don’t forget that the government has so many offices, schools, and hospitals that can provide logistic base for relief operations. They have 10,000 times more resources than any voluntary organization. In summary, no voluntary organization can match the impact that is possible by a good government based initiative. That is the undeniable truth.

So your first choice should be to chip in wherever possible to encourage, motivate and keep the government accountable to their responsibility. After all this is the only job a government can and should do well. If you see your local corporator, MLA or his local right hand man. Make sure you ask them what they are doing to ensure the government is doing their part. Well, don’t forget the person who contested and lost the election – make sure they also are reminded about their responsibility too!

Then there are all the high level Civil Servants – our brilliant people who prepare for these competitive exams for years to become a senior government official. Remind them of their duties and encourage them, send an SMS on your behalf to their colleague in the affected region to work hard and smart during this time. Urge them to be heroes at these moments of opportunity as public servants.

You could write a letter to some news channels, newspapers to hold them accountable and to ensure they make a good impact for the betterment of the people who are suffering. You should recommend them not to look at this time for TRP ratings and look to make money from advertising or sensationalize trivia. They will have opportunities for that when cricket matches, Tollywood shows, new movie comes from our cine stars and other relatively unimportant events come up. In a time of tragedy, they have to play a responsible role too. Getting a corrupt or incompetent public servant out of critical position and putting pressure on the government to do some special initiatives to get their best people to work in the affected area for a short time basis will go a long way to mitigate the suffering of the affected people.

Only after you do all this should you on a minor scale support established NGO’s. Remember, people get the government they deserve! If the educated and responsible citizens set the right note on expectations during this situation – it plays a very positive role in ensuring good execution. After all, the elected representatives need to know you care about this matter

Coming back to the NGOs, they can play a good supporting role where the government is not able to cover a certain area or is not able to provide a kind of service that is very important for the affected people. Sometimes, in some specific areas the staffing levels by government could be weaker.

The last thing you should do is to give cash to the unknown ‘good citizens’ who put on stereotyped clothes of an ‘NGO volunteer’ holding out donation boxes at the traffic stop or come door-to-door collecting Cash and clothes / utensils for the affected people. Remember it is a very easy for shady people to put up this show and run-off with the money. Do not contribute to anyone whom you did not have a chance to fully verify as authentic.

Finally, remember that there are two parts to a catastrophe – Relief and Rehabilitation. Relief needs to be provided quickly and needs to be done across thousands of square kilometers. This is best when done by the government. Relief involves providing basic things food, water, clothing, and something for temporary shelter.

The other part is more important is to get someone to be back on their feet. Allow them to get back with their lives. That is to reinstate their livelihood, repair their home, find, or replace their working tools. This is what is the most significant and here is where your search for a good and authentic NGO will really help the needy. So think again before you pullout cash from your wallet at the traffic stop or when someone knocks on your door with that donation box. Resist the temptation to go with the crowd and line the pockets of crooks and scoundrels!

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