The public can help in a humanitarian crisis. Here's how.

Cash – the best support you can give

The best thing you can do when a disaster occurs is to donate money to an emergency appeal by an organisation working on the ground. These organisations have clear systems and processes for assessing what's needed. Where possible they will source supplies from close to the affected area, which is the most efficient and cost-effective way of getting help to those who need it. 

Think twice before donating goods

Following a disaster, countries can be overwhelmed with donated goods. These can be time consuming and difficult for the affected country to store, transport and distribute. Sometimes the cost of transporting goods can be more expensive than the value of the goods.

It's best to only donate goods that have been asked for by an aid agency working on the ground.

Before organising a collection of donated goods:

  • Find out whether the goods are needed on the ground and if are appropriate for the country.
  • Make sure you have a good understanding of all costs involved, including freight to the country, transport within the country, and any wharf, handling and customs charges. 
  • Make sure you have a clear plan for the goods once they arrive in the affected country, including people who will take responsibility for the logistics and costs of collecting, storing, sorting and distributing the goods.

Plan ahead if you want to be a volunteer

Like other aid agencies, MFAT doesn't send volunteers from the public as part of a humanitarian response. Following a disaster, there can be significant health hazards and limited food, water, communications, transport and accommodation in affected areas. There may also be language and cultural barriers that make volunteering difficult or inappropriate. It's important that people who help in a humanitarian crisis are working for an experienced humanitarian agency and that they are specifically trained in how to work in disaster situations. This is both for their own safety and so as not to put additional strain on limited resources.

The Ministry of Health works with New Zealand health workers who wish to volunteer for deployments during a disaster response.

Find information on the application and training process for health workers (external link)

Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) sends New Zealand volunteers to share their skills and assist with longer term development in non-emergency situations.

Read about current VSA volunteering vacancies (external link)