Helping Hands Often Hurt: Study
Harvard researchers recommend steps to improve impact of global aid
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2008 8:20 PM CST
An East Timorese worker carries food aid at a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse in Dili, East Timor, Friday, April 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Disaster response can be a damaging force when aid isn't applied intelligently and in an organized fashion, a Harvard researcher tells LiveScience. A study by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative found incidences of spoiled food, haphazardly administered medicine, and donated clothes appropriate for neither culture nor climate. The study calls on aid groups to change their ways.

Initiative co-director Michael VanRooyen says he understands that humanitarian groups mean well, but he wants them to study the effects of their efforts and change their operations accordingly. He thinks all non-governmental organizations devoted to disaster relief should institute departments designed to undertake that study, adopting a more “evidence-based” approach to create a set of best practices.