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Canadian companies feel strongly about helping to support communities affected by natural disasters and other emergencies abroad.
Before a crisis
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) provides information on how to work with many of the major international relief organizations on the IFInet website. Trade Commissioners in affected countries, in the Offices of Liaison with International Financial Institutions, and at the Canadian embassies and consulates in New York, Copenhagen, Rome, and Geneva can help Canadian companies get in touch with appropriate representatives of all the major international relief organizations.
Before investing too much time and effort, companies need to consider whether:
- Their products are comparable to what is currently being used by international relief organizations. These organizations often face both technical and financial constraints on the types of products they can use. Some have published catalogues of commonly used items that can be used as a guide to determine the suitability of the products offered by Canadian companies:
- Their products can be produced more efficiently in the affected country or region. Restarting the economy after a natural disaster is among the most important components of the recovery. Relief organizations will make every effort to purchase goods locally as long as they are competitively available and meet the requisite standards.
During a crisis
During a crisis, companies can be most effective in meeting the needs of disaster-affected populations by providing cash donations to experienced international relief organizations. Financial contributions allow these organizations to purchase exactly what is needed and pay for transportation costs.
Most major relief organizations are well-prepared for natural disasters and complex emergencies around the world. To be able to deliver supplies quickly, they often stockpile needed goods in warehouses across the globe and make long-term agreements with suppliers who can quickly respond to an emergency. Although relief organizations are interested in building relationships with suppliers of required goods, contacting them in the midst of an emergency is not recommended.
If Canadian companies have extensive operations in an affected country and have human and material resources that may be useful to the national government and international agencies responding to the disaster (e.g. heavy equipment that can clear roads covered in debris following an earthquake or flood), we recommend that they make contact with the closest office of the Government of Canada in the given country. Canadian officials will be able to provide companies with advice on how best to coordinate their assistance within the overall international response.
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