Effective donation for Moria / Lesbos

post by Milbig · 2020-10-14T07:43:20.548Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · EA · GW · No comments

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Hi there, after the horrible fire in Moria, people are now without any shelter, sanitary or medical care. I want to help! AS Dunja asked in February, when the camp still existed but conditions weren't much better, I also look for an effective way to help. Does anyone have a suggestion?

Thanks! Milbig

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answer by Aaron Gertler · 2020-10-14T22:32:47.006Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

In this question, you're asking about how best to help a very specific group of people, which isn't the traditional "EA" approach. 

Generally, effective altruism is focused on finding the best ways to help people without choosing which specific people to help ahead of time. Instead, we try to reach whichever people will get the most benefit from what we can give.

The people we can help the most usually aren't those whose problems we hear about on the news. As GiveWell notes in their advice on disaster relief giving:

Think about less-publicized suffering. Every day, people die from preventable and curable diseases, in many cases because they lack access to proven life-savers such as insecticide-treated nets. Their day-to-day suffering isn’t well-suited to making headlines, and they generally don’t attract the attention and dollars that disaster relief victims do – yet we believe that donations targeting these populations do more good than disaster relief donations.

If a recent disaster has given you a strengthened desire to reduce suffering and help others, consider asking whether you might be able to broaden this desire and make it part of your everyday life.

That said, if you are determined to specifically help people who were affected by this fire, GiveWell's other advice in that article is worth taking: 

  • Give cash rather than goods
  • Make unrestricted donations
  • Proactively seek out accountable and transparent organizations (rather than supporting one that happens to advertise to you)
comment by Matt_Lerner (mattlerner) · 2020-10-20T18:05:32.167Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I wonder if the forum  shouldn't encourage a class of post (basically like this one) that's something like "are there effective giving opportunities in X context?" Although EA is cause-neutral, there's no reason why members shouldn't take the opportunity provided by serendipity to investigate highly specific scenarios and model "virtuous EA behavior." This could be a way of making the forum friendlier to visitors like the OP, and a way for comments to introduce visitors to EA concepts in a way that's emotionally relevant.

comment by ld25 (lucyduncan) · 2020-10-20T19:18:09.572Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

If I understand you correctly, I agree. I understand the reason for quoting GiveWell's framework, however, I think that it is potentially discouraging to someone who is trying to do the most good in a context that they care about. That's not to say that nobody should ever say 'maybe there are more neglected causes that you may not have thought about', but the EA community certainly shouldn't be giving the impression that we follow some strict ideology that no-one can challenge.

comment by ld25 (lucyduncan) · 2020-10-20T16:51:17.726Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure that I would group refugee camps on the Aegean Islands in with 'disaster relief' (although I understand that this post was specifically about the fire). 

I guess that taking this specific event out of the consideration, the two main causes of suffering here are 1. The actual wars/regimes that people are fleeing in their home countries and 2. The asylum system in Europe (and elsewhere, but I am more familiar with Europe). It doesn't really seem like donating money can help much with either of these (I'm happy to be corrected if wrong, and I haven't looked into this in enormous depth). Milbig, maybe you could get involved in a group that focusses on political lobbying? I don't know how effective this is likely to be, and I doubt that EA would say that this is very tractable  as a cause. However, I don't think that the scale, neglectedness, tractability framework is completely foolproof, and it's obviously very hard to know what is 'effective' when it comes to political issues.

A short but relevant article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/04/help-refugees-donations-government-political-action

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