Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Victims of disasters and human conflicts currently rely on humanitarian organizations’ interventions and the speed of governments to respond to demands. Humanitarian missions also rely on imported goods and services rather than local ones, which is expensive and does not support the local economy.. In many countries facing emergency crises or natural disasters, inattentiveness of weak or malfunctioning governments can manifest in a failure to deliver the necessary aid to in-need populations. Pride, honor or simply lack of resources also leads to faulty treatment and unnecessary pain and deaths. In addition, humanitarian aid that is delivered intentionally slowly by governments can be viewed as a means of oppression towards rival groups or ethnicities. In addition, global political agreements make it difficult for some countries to intervene and provide aid outside of their borders. As a result, entire areas and populations around the world are cut off from aid and vital support in their greatest times of need. Millions of people are in high risk because of obstructionist tactics by local governments that use disasters to advance their own corrupt political agenda.
The global civil society is fighting acute human rights violations performed by governments through organizations and coalitions of human rights activists. Natural disaster survivors and refugees of conflict areas usually receive aid from big organizations or from country operated aid agencies. Those organizations are sponsored by countries and follow the governments’ direct command and set of interests. In the case of conflicts of interest, aid agencies can simply cut aid, which has a tremendous cost on human lives. In Myanmar alone, for example, more than 100,000 people died as a result of deliberate neglect and insufficient aid after the cyclone hit the south of the country in 2008. Opposition groups densely populated the southern provinces, which were the most devastated by the floods. The regime eliminated political rivals without firing one bullet, yet with the cost of many innocent human lives. Another example of this dynamic took place when the Indian government did not quickly aid Muslim communities after a quake hit Kashmir in 2005, or when the Syrian regime prevented the delivery of medical and food supplies from its rebellious cities. The time is ripe for a solution that will take the mandate on life saving aid from the big agencies and bring it to the hands of people, wherever they may be.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Gal Lusky envisions a world in which teams can organize quickly and respond effectively to emergency crises. Her organization, IFA (Israel Flying Aid) assists survivors of natural disasters and human conflict in the world's most dangerous regions. The complexity of most humanitarian aid missions means that they are often limited in their response, constrained by bureaucracy, and reliant on the host country, which itself may also be entangled with corruption. As a consequence, victims of crises are denied access to life-giving relief.
IFA changes the face of emergency disaster relief by enabling local citizens to become agents of change in their communities by providing the needed aid. They drive the impact, rather than external and foreign agencies. By teaching and training locals in high risk areas as well as training other aid organizations of similar interest, Gal’s work reframes the role and position of humanitarian aid. She is building a coalition of rescue teams devoted to saving lives and cutting the often detrimental link between government interests, supplies and human capital. Gal’s vision is that this work will change the behavior of the states themselves: IFA is improving states’ understanding of the importance of aid in emergency situations and communicating that political priorities should not stand in the way of saving of lives.
Based on Gal’s extensive experience in disaster areas, IFA’s model is a sophisticated and easily replicable risk-assessment process that combines sourcing local supplies, networking, and connections. Over the last ten years, Gal’s organization has delivered food and medicine to people all over the world, including the Muslim population in Kashmir after an earthquake, monks in south Myanmar after a devastating cyclone, and isolated Georgian communities under Russian army siege. The IFA has worked in Indonesia, Haiti, Eritrea, and Sudan. Most recently, Gal’s organization delivered more than 120 tons of supplies to survivors and refugees in Syria as well as in unrecognized refugee camps in neighboring countries. Now she is looking forward to partnering with local communities in organizations to multiply her impact in other conflict-prone areas around the globe.