Junk donations clog up rehabilitation resources
The Australian Red Cross – examining ways to reduce the unrequested donation of goods – found that in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston in 2016, Fiji received 133 containers and 8147 pieces of loose cargo, enough goods to fill 33 Olympic swimming pools.
While often donated by well-meaning individuals and groups, unsolicited donations may not be appropriate and can put pressure on an already stretched humanitarian supply chain system.
The report was compiled over a three-month period and involved over forty individuals from humanitarian organisations, donors, National Disaster Management Offices and those who had donated unsolicited bilateral donations (UBDs).
The Fijian Government had anticipated the influx of UBDs after TC Winston and made arrangement to manage their arrival.
A system was established for UBD management and staff and assets were requisitioned as part of the response arrangements. All government resources were at the disposition of the National Disaster Controller.
Upon arrival, the UBDs were split three ways and sent to the three affected divisions and where possible, down to the provincial level.
UBDs, also called Gifts in Kind and unsolicited material donations, are goods that are spontaneously donated after a disaster.
They arrive unannounced or with very short notice, have incomplete or faulty paperwork, lack clearly defined consignee, are nonstandard items and have incorrect packaging.
During recent Pacific responses, UBDs have come from Australia and other countries in large amounts.