Aidex Voices

Following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal last month, Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP) – the only sector-wide professional association of individuals engaged in humanitarian assistance and protection worldwide – hosted an online event in collaboration with the Private Sector Section of the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) to answer questions from the private sector on how best to contribute to the relief effort. 

The event featured two speakers from UN OCHA working on the Nepal response: Andy Andrea, Head of UN OCHA’s Private Sector Section, taking part from Geneva, and David Gilman, Humanitarian Affairs Officer in the Regional Partnerships Unit of UN OCHA in Bangkok. 

Both speakers emphasised to their virtual audience the importance of working within the UN’s cluster system in order to limit the pressure on an already strained relief pipeline. This is especially important as the country’s sole airport, whilst remaining undamaged, is struggling to cope with the influx of aid. 

Andy Andrea emphasised the important role that the international private sector has to play in supporting relief efforts via the coordinated framework put in place by the UN’s Flash Appeal to meet immediate priorities. However, he also cautioned participating organisations to temper their enthusiasm. Limited logistical capacity means that there is no need for in-kind donations; indeed, these risk hampering, rather than helping, the delivery of aid. Instead, financial donations are the most effective way of helping the people of Nepal at this time. 

For organisations and suppliers who want to make in-kind donations, patience is the motto of the moment. Private sector companies should wait until in-kind supplies are called for and should in the meantime contact the relevant UN cluster lead with a detailed inventory of their supplies and appropriate deployment information. Going through the cluster system can also help private sector donors take into account cultural sensitivities and local needs. 

Andy also emphasised that the long-term rebuilding strategy in Nepal is one that will take time and the private sector has a crucial role to play in this. By coordinating with international agencies, private sector donations and supplies can bridge the gap that is often left when public support fades away in the weeks and months following a disaster. Local and international private sector organizations provide much needed expertise and supplies that will be essential to Nepal as it begins the process of rebuilding throughout the coming year. 

With a second deadly tremor having struck Nepal on May 12, the situation remains critical for the country. To make sure that relief efforts continue to be carried out in a coordinated manner, private sector organisations who want to work with the UN to provide support should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or refer to the UN Flash Appeal to find their relevant cluster representative. And if you missed PHAP’s event, you can find the full recording at phap.org/30apr2015.