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I am Ted Chaiban, Director of Emergency Programmes at UNICEF. Here to answer your questions about our relief efforts for those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Nov 12th 2013 by TedChaiban • 11 Questions • 2531 Points

I oversee all of the organization's (the United Nations Children's Fund) work protecting children in emergency situations.

If you're interested in donating to our work, you can do that by visiting http://uni.cf/haiyan

If you're interested in following our work, please follow UNICEF on Twitter & Facebook

I'm excited to take your questions.

https://twitter.com/UNICEF/status/400244844968546304

EDIT: Hi everyone, we're going to start at 10:30. Have a call with the Philippines.

Q:

Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this AMA! I'm thinking about donating through UNICEF but since this would be my first time donating internationally, I'm not very familiar with it. Could you tell me how much, say, $50 would translate to in terms of different kinds of aid that UNICEF will provide, for how many people and how long etc, so I can decide how much I would like to donate? Thanks again :)

A:

You can vaccinate a child for a dollar, an education kit for 80 students will cost 200 dollars. 10,000 water purification tablets cost 66 dollars and that cleans 50,000 liters of water.


Q:

Hi Ted,

Thank you for all that you do with UNICEF and the world around us.

I have two questions for you regarding relief aid:

  1. What more can be done to stomp out fraudulent aid relief funds or "organizations" who seek to profit from horrific tragedy?

  2. Where do you see the future of aid relief heading? For example, do you expect more international cooperation, foresee organizational mergers, etc.

Please tell all of your employees how much their work is appreciated.

A:
  1. There are a large number of credible organizations on the ground, including organizations whose name you'd recognize, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres, Save the Children, local Red Cross, as well as credible UN agencies such as World Food Programme, WHO, and of course UNICEF. A number of media outlets have supported links to credible organizations and this is one way to be able to contribute if you'd like to do so.

Q:

What percent of all money donated goes directly to relief efforts? Whats the usual breakdown of funds (x percent to food, y percent to medicine)?

A:

About 85 % of the funds go directly to the relief effort. UNICEF focus is on children. We are dealing with the most immediate life saving needs at this stage. The first priorities are water and sanitation, shelter, and health. In addition, we are concerned about children being separated from their families. So we need to work with partners to identify separated children, making sure they are in a safe space and trace their families.


Q:

How often do your relief efforts hit bureaucratic roadblocks? Which are the most irritating to have to handle?

A:

The biggest obstacle right now, is access. The difficulties of reaching the population because of damaged infrastructure is one we need to overcome. We have gotten some portable latrines on the ground, and therapeutic foods, along with shelter and hygiene and sanitation kits. But more is needed. Supplies are currently being air lifted to nearby Cebu airport and being trucked across Leyte to Tacloban. This and security are the main and immediate concerns. We should also recognize that the Philippino authorities have been very helpful in allowing staff and supplies in with minimal beauracratic hurdles. So the concern is really one of airport congestion, local infrastructure capacity, etc.


Q:

I'm interested in kind of the dull, bureaucratic details. Once you get past the short term emergency, basic lifesustaining relief efforts, what does the transition to recovery look like? After water, food, sanitation are improved, what becomes the big challenge next?

A:

This is an important question to start addressing from the very beginning. What is important is to work on the resumption of basic social services so there is a sense of normalcy and children can access these services. Amongst the most importance, is the resumption of education so that children are in a familiar environment and begin the healing process. In addition, children will need pyschosocial support, to deal with the stress that they have been under, including the possible loss of lives in their families and loved ones. We also need to start looking at early recovery and reconstruction activities from the get go, starting with water systems but also looking at health and education infrastructure.


Q:

Hi Ted I admire the great work you and your organisation do. My question is what is the biggest problem you are currently facing in aiding those affected by this terrible disaster in the Philippines?

A:

Access. Security. And the importance of mobilizing both the people, the supply, and the funds to support the national response and get the assistance to the people on the ground, in Tacloban but also in Ormoc and also areas in western Visayas that have been affected. We have staff in these locations, some supplies are already on the ground, and more on the way. Logistics will be key.


Q:

Love your work, UNICEF do great things.

Is it worse or better than CNN et al are saying? Blunt and open-ended question, but one which I guess must be asked.

A:

It is very bad. The description from colleagues on the ground is this is very similar to what happened with the Indian Ocean tsunami, where at the epicenter of the typhoon, notably Tacloban, there is large scale desctruction, debris is skewed all over, and access is made very difficult. In terms of responding to the needs, basic things like having fuel to move supplies is very difficult. And there is a large number of people who have been severely affected and displaced by this crisis. So this is for real. And, we need to make this a priority.


Q:

How is the situation in the Philippines campared to how the situation was in Thailand after the Tsunami?

A:

There are great similarities between the situation currently and the situation in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia after the tsunami. Including the damage of significant swathes of territory and the difficulties with access that follow. The immediate needs currently are again similar to those that were felt during the tsunami, including debris collection, burying those that have past away, then quickly addressing immediate water, food, shelter, and health needs. In addition, it's very important early on to identify families that have been separated, and bring children who may be on their own, back in contact with family members.


Q:

Will UNICEF support the use of crisis mapping and crowd sourcing to show where help is most needed?

A:

There are a number of social media tools, SMS technology, mobile phone applications, that are important in determining as soon as minimal communication infrastructure is established, where help is most needed, to provide feedback also on the quality of what is received. Organizations like UNICEF need to be accountable to local populations and these different means of communication provide not only a channel to inform that population of what they can expect, but to also get feedback on the quality of what is being done and suggestions on how to improve it.


Q:

First off, thank you for your work.

How much can private donations do to alleviate problems in comparison to huge relief funds by nations or organizations such as the US or the EU?

A:

Every little bit counts. In the case of the tsunami response and the horn of Africa drought response, private donations were key to supporting the response and made up 30 percent of all funds received.


Q:

Which is the toughest emergency u have faced?

A:

Indian Ocean tsunami, Darfur, Syria, and we are very concerned about the current situation in the Philippines.