Aid agencies have issued a firm plea to Australians who donate goods to people in disaster zones to avoid sending unrequested items, saying they will likely end up in landfill.
According to a report commissioned by the Australian Red Cross, unsolicited donations given to the country’s Pacific neighbours after disasters may be causing more harm than good.
The report is the first piece of research examining the often huge financial burden of disposing unrequested goods sent by well-meaning Australians.
Joanna Pradela, the Australian Council for International Development’s (ACFID) head of policy and advocacy, said Australians were “extremely generous” whenever a disaster occurred.
“They often want to help communities who have been affected in any way that they can,” she said.
The report found that after Cyclone Pam in 2015, Australians sent more than 70 shipping containers of goods to Vanuatu.
They included items like high heels, handbags, heavy blankets and canned food.
But almost a year after the cyclone, 18 of those containers remained uncollected.
Ms Pradela said the cost was almost $2 million in storage fees, and more than half of the canned food had expired.