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How Can I Help?
January 20, 2012

Crisis in the Horn of Africa

USAID, Disaster Assistance website

Humanitarian Organizations Working in the Disaster Region

The most efficient and effective way to help those affected by a disaster overseas is to make a monetary donation to a humanitarian organization that is implementing relief programs in the affected region. There are several different ways to go about identifying such organizations:

Selecting a Humanitarian Organization to Support

There may be many organizations accepting donations for a particular disaster. Selecting which one to support is an important part of the donating process.

Monetary Donations

Monetary donations are the most effective form of assistance because they allow humanitarian organizations to purchase (often within the affected region itself) the exact type and quantity of items needed by those affected by the crisis. Read about the advantages of monetary donations

Commodity Contributions

While monetary donations are preferred to commodity contributions, there may be rare instances when a commodity contribution would be of value to relief operations.

  • See a list of conditions which are necessary to ensure that a commodity contribution is appropriate…
  • Read about handling appropriate commodity contributions
  • If a commodity collection has already been made, but there are problems identifying a need in the affected region for the commodities or an organization to accept them, read about some alternate ideas

Drug Donations

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), donated drugs are often inappropriate for the emergency to which they are sent or level of care available. They may also be unfamiliar to local health-care professionals and may not comply with local policies. And they may even be dangerous. For more information, see WHO’s Guidelines for Drug Donations and drugdonations.org.

A Donations Message from the Humanitarian Community

View a message from the humanitarian community about the best way you can help those affected by an overseas disaster…


Volunteer opportunities in disaster settings are extremely rare, and are usually limited to people with prior disaster experience and technical skills (such as health, engineering, etc). To register your skills and experience for a possible volunteer opportunity, go to the Center for International Disaster Information’s registration page. For more information on volunteering, visit InterAction.

For More Information

For more information on donations, see the following:

Sale of Commodities or Transportation Services

All humanitarian commodities and services procured by USAID are carefully selected, in coordination with the affected countries and other humanitarian organizations, for maximum benefit to disaster-affected populations. Read about the sale of commodities or transportation services.