Right aid? Wrong aid? - June, 2004

Developing standards for humanitarian aid.

Ham to non-pork eaters in Albania? Over-sized shoes to medium-sized wearers in Vietnam? A 40 foot container load of badly packed computers reduced to spare parts by the time they reached the Middle East?

Horror stories abound in our industry.

In Bosnia & Herzegovina, between 1992 and 1996, it cost an appalling US $34 million to dispose of inappropriate donations. In 1995, 340 tons of expired drugs were stored in Mostar, needing costly disposal care.

In light of such instances, Global Hand has been asked to work towards an ISO, of sorts, for product procurement and delivery: a set of standards to ensure wisdom and appropriateness prevail. From its inception, Global Hand’s members have requested the development of these guidelines and they are now a work in progress.

In some part, answers can be found in standards or best practice recommendations prepared for others in the aid sector.

  • Not all of their material is relevant though, of course.
  • Not all, moreover, of the issues in our industry are dealt with by their writings.

We invite your feedback

You may have seen on our website, or in hard copy, a document in which we have extracted the relevant sections from other standards and listed them under topics where we see a need for humanitarian product standards. This document has been open for comment for some time and members have been feeding their suggestions back to us by email.

The Global Hand standards document will be open for discussion until June 20th. We have now published some of the members’ comments on the website under the relevant sections.
We encourage you to continue offering comments in response to the standards we have collected and in response to the members’ comments. We would particular like to hear your feedback on the areas where we have not yet found any appropriate standards. This document will be open for discussion until June 20th.

Thank you for your contribution to the Global Hand community and for helping us to improve standards, in particular.