Hurricane Matthew has been dominating the news and especially how it has impacted the country of Haiti. The usual outpouring of compassion that accompanies such natural disasters, while heartwarming and commendable, results in actions that actually hinder the rescue efforts.
Nicole Dan recently wrote about this phenomenon, especially as it relates to the practice of sending clothes:
Some might think it’s just easier to send old clothes. However, this could negatively impact the local economy. According to human rights activist Mariah Griffin-Angus, “A significant reason why countries like Uganda, Nigeria and Haiti lag behind developed countries is because of a combination of a lack of infrastructure and the difficulty in creating formal employment opportunities.” She suggests, instead, donating so clothes can be bought locally, which results in workers being paid and helps the country become more self-sufficient. Local clothing suppliers cannot compete with cheap donated clothing from people who think they are doing countries like Haiti a favor.