5 July 2023

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Disaster Relief!

It can be easy to look at the war in Ukraine and be pessimistic. We’re living in the 21st century and a world superpower has invaded a neighbouring country over little more than a land dispute. However, for proof that cooperation and altruism are human being’s natural state, you need look no further than the incredible outpouring of disaster relief.

While military support is an obvious point of concern, Ukraine has also received billions in financial and humanitarian aid from countries across the world. This aid does so much to help people in desperate need of it. However, exactly how it all works on a detailed level is usually a mystery to most. Well, no longer! Here are a few things you might not know about how disaster relief actually works.

Accountability Matters

Many people think that when a country says they’re committing 20 million in disaster relief that they simply write a cheque and that’s a job well done. 

In reality, there are tons of people working behind the scenes to make sure that money is put to good use. This includes vetting companies to make sure they’re legitimate and accounting for where exactly each dollar is eventually spent.


The world is a multicultural place, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. With that being the case, there are more than a few things standing in the way of people just landing in a foreign country and administering aid. 

Many countries speak multiple languages, have multiple religions, and adhere to multiple cultural practices. In Ukraine for example, Ukrainian is the primary language for many, but many others speak Russian as their first language.


With so many countries sending aid to Ukraine, it must be an absolute mess, right? Thankfully, global support is organized so relief can make it to the most number of people. This helps stop two countries from supporting the same city, while a second one receives nothing.

If disaster relief isn’t a well-oiled machine, it could actually cause more problems than it solves!

Trauma Support

Even after the disaster is over, clean up is finished, or the country is back on its feet, the work isn’t over yet. 

Living through something like an earthquake, flood, or war, can mean being exposed to incredibly traumatic experiences. Part of the relief effort includes ensuring people have adequate access to trauma support, and that they’re equipped to move forward. After the last of the debris has been clear or the last bomb has dropped, support is still needed and completely necessary.

How To Help

If you see a disaster occurring and think “how can I help?”, that is fantastic, never lose that impulse! However, there are a few things to keep in mind to best direct your personal efforts.

Don’t just try to jump on a plane, so you can be boots on the ground. It’s a nice thought, but you won’t know what to do or how best to help. Not to mention that it’s one more mouth to feed and one more bed occupied. If you want to be in the country to help, make sure you set yourself up to do so well before a disaster occurs. Volunteer with a reputable organization and help support their efforts instead.

When it comes to giving support from home, as with many things, cash is king. Sending food or other items can mean they get held up longer at border crossing. It is also a lot harder to coordinate logistically. Money is simple. It also has the added benefit of supporting that county’s local economy, something that is usually in need of aid as well.

Want to learn more about disaster relief from someone who actually does it? A global leader in the space? You’ll want to check out the latest episode of Conquering Chaos and Mayhem! The pod welcomes author, teacher, and emergency management expert, Alain Normand. “In a flood you know where the flood zone is and where you need to be. In a warzone, that doesn’t apply. You need to be extremely flexible because day to day the situation and map changes.”