Donating to help with flood relief efforts in Bangkok via Jacob Phelps, NUS postgrad on the ground

Donate funds to Baan Arsa Jaidee at http://www.baanarsajaidee.blogspot.com

In a crisis, getting supplies to the ground is critical. A good way to do it, when possible, is to support an agency purchasing supplies on the ground, in the affected country. That cuts transport costs and allows relief workers handling the situation to buy what’s needed and get the right stuff cheaply.

Once you find a agency or contact you can trust, then its about chipping in to help with dollars – every cent and action can help to make a difference.

Jacob Phelps, one of the PhD students from the Biodiversity Crew is in Thailand and helping Baan Arsa Jaidee, an emergency relief centre opened by the autonomous Thai Health Promotion Foundation in collaboration with civil society groups.

05lsm1103gpA-kentridge-14aug2009 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Jacob’s not TA-ing biology students this semester,
he’s in Thailand for research and helping out with flood relief
Baan Arsa Jaidee
Approximate location of Baan Arsa Jaidee and reports of flooding
on the crowd-sourced BKK Flood Map

Chao Phraya river
The Chao Phraya river.

Seeing there was no electronic means to donate directly into the Relief Fund as yet, Jacob setup a PayPal account to collect and deposit funds into the Thai Health Promotion Foundation account, the Thai Government agency managing the Centre’s finances.

Since I can vouch for all this, I posted a note on the NUS Biodiversity Crew blog.

Essentially, you can donate funds by visiting the Baan Arsa Jaidee webpage at http://www.baanarsajaidee.blogspot.com and choose to pay using Paypal (you will not need an account). If you’re one of my kakis reading this, you can call me to make a donation.

As environmental biology researchers, we already expect these problems as we observe almost helplessly, the relentless abuse to the landscape repeated everywhere. When it happens, empathy and affection for the places you studied and spent time in, the friends you made there, the enjoyment of what’s still there makes us wish we could help in some reliable and immediate way.

In Thailand for his research, Jacob was there to witness the flooding situation in Bangkok, the most severe in 50 years. People who have lost everything desperately need access to food and clean water, medicine, toilets, boats and clothes.

At Baan Arsa Jaidee, he is packing food for flood-affected areas north of Bangkok. Jacob says resources are limited and funds are needed especially to purchase food and water, rafts and water purifiers for distribution.

When I posted the note on The Biodiversity Crew last week, Jacob wrote, “We and the Centre are in the inner city, and supposedly safe. But last night we went to check out flooding just 3-4km north of us, and it sure looks like it is coming.”

See this BBC article for an idea of what they are doing at Ban Arsa Jai Dee.

Thailand flood: ‘Making survival packs‘,” BBC News, 27 Oct 2011.

Thailand is continuing to battle its worst flooding in decades. More than 360 people have died in flooding triggered by unusually heavy seasonal rains across the country since July.

About one third of all Thailand’s provinces remain affected, while the capital, Bangkok, is now braced for severe flooding.

Rungsun Munkong is an assistant director at the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and is currently the centre coordinator for the Baan Arsa Jaidee flood relief centre, which is staffed mainly by volunteers. He spoke to the BBC News website about the centre and its operation.

“Water is now surrounding Bangkok and it’s a high water flood, so we think it could be the worst one in our history.

“Our centre has been open for two weeks. The first week we were helping people in the north who are already affected by flooding, but now we are thinking about how we can help people in Bangkok.

“Currently we’re making survival packs – packs or bags – that have basic foods such as uncooked rice, instant noodles and fresh water.

‘Really worried’

“They also contain tissues, basic medication and some candles and lighters in case electricity is disconnected.”

“We’re worried the floods will last several months”

“What we have done so far is transport our survival packs to flood hit areas where they help people for a few days.

“But people need more than that. We’re worried the floods will last several months and the help we can provide will be too little.

“As well as the survival packs we also have training and workshops for Bangkok volunteers.

“We have about 200 to 300 people per day and we teach them how to make tools to help in the floods – for example, life vests from used plastic bottles and rafts made from PVC tubes and plastic bottles.

“We also give them some emergency tips for making drinking water safe. Essentially we hope to help people prepare for the flood.

“So far we have sent things we have made to the affected provinces, but we hope the people of Bangkok will also be able to learn skills that will help them survive if the floods get really bad here.”

Thanks Mingko, for the alert about the situation.