Be a Better Donor:
Practical Recommendations for Humanitarian Aid

Each time a major disaster takes places, the humanitarian machinery is set in motion, mobilizing technical assistance and national and international donations. However, the arrival or large quantities of donations in the affected country is an enormous organizational and managerial challenge for the authorities and humanitarian actors which can result in relevant aid of great value, or in an additional burden which is difficult to manage and administrate. The technical and logistical problems which this task involves are often compounded by the fact that, in many cases, donations are frequently inappropriate, sent in haste and little in line with the needs of the affected population or populations. Experience has shown that the majority of these problems can be avoided with better planning, more refined coordination and more appropriate and efficient information exchange amongst the actors involved.

For the production of this guide, conclusions and recommendations arising from different international forums were reviewed and documents and guides from major international humanitarian agencies were taken as references in order to bring to the fore and to present in a practical and operational manner a summary of recommendations for three essential actors: donors, national disaster response and risk management organizations and the communications media. The guide promotes exchange, knowledge and mutual collaboration between these three agents, with the aim of adopting better practices and bringing to light behaviors and myths which hinder or harm the process of donations and the efficient use of these donations to alleviate the consequences of disaster. The document has an initial section with recommendations of a general nature, followed by three chapters dedicated to each one of these actors as well as brief sections of a sectoral nature dealing with the following issues: health, medicines, water and sanitation, children and food.

The guide is part of a series of material which will be used in public information, training and communications campaigns organized with the support of several of the most important international humanitarian agencies present in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For more information, visit (the information is currently in Spanish only).

This book can be ordered from PAHO's Emergency Preparedness Program (, or can be downloaded as a PDF file. You need to have installed Adobe Acrobat Reader to read these files. It can be obtained free of charge from the Adobe Website.

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