The 2018 NGO Seminar on International Disaster Relief was organized by the China Charity Alliance and the Research Center for Risks Governance and Innovation of the Beijing Normal University on December 18th. According to presentations at the seminar, Chinese NGOs have participated in relief work for more than 20 severe disasters and emergencies internationally since 2011, including the Nepal earthquake in 2015, Phuket boat capsizing and Tham Luang cave rescue in 2018.
The April 2015 Nepal earthquake was the largest for Chinese NGOs in terms of their personnel and resource contribution. Staff and volunteers from more than 23 social organizations carried out a wide variety of relief work on the ground from rescuing people, sanitizing water, distributing supplies to providing care. Many organizations have since stayed for helping the local areas recover long term and a few of them have registered to have a local office.
However, it is still early stage for Chinese NGOs in participating in international disaster relief. The seminar concluded that there are three key aspects for improvements. First, the NGOs themselves need to increase organizational capacity. The rescue teams hardly ever meet professional standards for conducting disaster relief and thus put themselves at risks. Second, coordination between NGOs is seriously lacking. A mechanism could be established for communication and sharing resources between NGOs when carrying out relief work. The third aspect is the absence of government regulations regarding NGOs role in international disaster relief. Although the “Foreign Aid Management Law (draft)” was published in 2018, it did not make clear whether the regulations apply to NGOs.