DEC: Uniting Humanitarian Agencies

Far too often, disasters strike the areas of the world that are least capable of handling them. Have you ever wondered who coordinates the disaster relief when an earthquake upends a struggling country, or a monsoon floods precious farmland in a developing nation?

Some of the poorest regions ravaged by disasters, like the Haitian earthquake of 2010 or the Tsunami of 2004, have gotten back on their feet thanks to an umbrella organization called the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

The DEC unites 13 humanitarian agencies to provide aid when the world’s poorest countries get hit by unforeseen tragedies.

Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan U.K., Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision are 13 leading U.K. aid charities that work together, raising money for quick disaster relief deliveries.

The DEC has run 64 appeals and raised more than $1.8 billion dollars since it’s formation in 1963.

But not every disaster-ridden country receives aid from this conglomerate of humanitarian agencies.

According to the DEC, appeals are reserved for “major disasters and emergencies that cannot be dealt with by the usual coping mechanisms within affected countries and where DEC member agencies are in a position to respond quickly and effectively.”

A spokesperson for Oxfam explained, “We only intervene in countries where there is no infrastructure or resources and people would die if we didn’t go there.”

Because of their connections with major U.K. companies and broadcasters, DEC is able to keep costs low and deliver the greatest possible amount of aid. Less than 5 percent of appeal funding is  spent on fundraising, monitoring and reporting back to donors, and up to 7 percent of funds received by member agencies are spent on response measures other than directly helping the survivors of the disaster.

An example of a particularly effective response by the DEC was in 2010 when the monsoon rains in Pakistan displaced 12 million people whose homes were swept away or destroyed. The DEC Pakistan Appeal raised more than $120 million and was able to send 60 percent of the funds to Pakistan in the form of temporary shelters, blankets, cooking utensils and food.

Grace Flaherty

Sources: Express, DEC
Photo: DEC