The common good

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Issue identification and analysis

Shared responsibility for the common good is not being realized when it comes to the issue of earthquakes response. Despite having over 97 million workers working in different parts of the world, the International Red Cross organization has been failing in delivering humanitarian assistance such as housing, food, and medication to victims of earthquakes. While victims of earthquake in developed countries may receive rapid Ambulance, Police, and medical response, those in developing countries do not receive the required assistance within the required time leading to loss of lives (Beaubien, 2015).

In many cases, the International Red Cross organization finds it extremely difficult to meet the needs of the victims due to lack of proper support systems, collaboration, and access infrastructure. In Haiti, for instance, the International Red Cross organization was able to provide support to only a few earthquake survivors. Millions contributed to help rebuild Haiti was used inappropriately with various accusations of funds embezzlement. It was also purported that there was preferential treatment in offering help to survivors with those close to Red Cross personnel and those in other areas receiving more help than others. Also, in other cases funds offered by donors fail to reach the destitute and instead it gets divided to the stakeholders especially in Africa where corruption is rampant as posited by Beaubien (2015). The organization has also failed to create a universally acceptable system of allocating the resources to victims of earthquake and remuneration to its staff. For instance, Red Cross may pay $70 a day for its staff in Australia while those working in other countries could be earning just 300 shillings for the same amount of work done.

The lack of shared responsibility for the common good when it comes to earthquakes is an issue since it’s a violation of human dignity and leads to unnecessary loss of lives. It makes some people feel belittled as compared to others and may end up considering themselves as ‘lesser’ human beings (Australian Association of Social Workers, 2013).

Solutions

To resolve the aforementioned issues and ensure that the common good is attained, the International Red Cross organization should embrace human dignity and treat all victims equally. It falls to every human persons, everyone should be treated in a fair manner, and in social work you do not discriminate any person based on nationality, ethnicity, race, orientation or other aspects. Since the people working with Red Cross are social workers and the 2010 Code of Ethics candidly clarifies that in their work, social workers, as much as possible “will promote policies, practices and social conditions that uphold human rights and that seek to ensure access, equity, participation and legal protection for all”, it is unprincipled for Red Cross personnel to favor some individuals (Australian Association of Social Workers, 2010, p. 19). Red Cross should consider retraining its employees on human rights and social justice. It should also ensure that the people sent to troubled-spots are impartial in their work and offer the best treatment to all.

Red Cross should ensure that its staff team has an understanding of the community in which they are working in. Considering the assertion that “Social workers will develop culturally sensitive practice by acknowledging the significance of culture in their practice, recognising the impact their own ethnic and cultural identities, views and biases can have on their practice and on culturally different clients and colleagues”, the Red Cross must respect the dignity of its clients (Australian Association of Social Workers, 2010, p. 19). This can be attained through community engagement which will enable the staff team to learn of the people’s needs and preferences. Engaging with members of the community will also help the social workers create a rapport with the needy population (Weinstein, Whittington & Leiba, 2003). This will further help in reducing resistance from members of the community and the social workers will find it easy to work in the troubled-spot.

The organization should also formulate a common law that guides the issuing of assistances to victims of earthquake. According to Weinstein, Whittington, and Leiba (2003), considering the ostensible fact that the organization works in different countries with different laws, Red Cross certainly needs to formulate and implement common rules that will guide its staff working in different environments (Colin & American National Red Cross, 2006). The law should, however, be anti-oppressive and seek to eradicate negative discrimination.

The International Red Cross organization should also increase advocacy. As a social practice, humanitarian organizations are supposed to advocate on behalf of their client (Australian Association of Social Workers, 2010). At times the victims may not voice their grievances. Their grievances may be of concern, but may not be known to authorities such as the government which may provide the requisite intervention. Voicing the needs of the clients is a role of social workers (Weinstein, Whittington & Leiba, 2003; Andries, 2009). It increases chances that the needy clients receive the required help in time. For instance, when an earthquake occurs, the Red Cross personnel should inform the government that there is need of more ambulances and relief food in the region. They may also push the relevant authorities to avail equipment that will aid in disaster management including machines such as excavators.

What’s more, the Red Cross Organization should champion for the creation of more humanitarian spaces. These are areas in which those offering aid are guaranteed of their safety and access to the penurious populations. Red Cross personnel have to mind about their own safety as social workers. The organization should, thus, be assured of “Safety in professional practice” (Australian Association of Social Workers, 2010, p. 16). The availability of humanitarian spaces will ensure that the working environment is respectful and culturally safe, a factor that will motivate its staff to work in close collaboration with the community members. However, a major challenge of creating humanitarian spaces is the manipulation of humanitarian laws to suit political interests of various parties (Andries, 2009). The organization should, hence, go slow in championing for humanitarian spaces to ensure that countries do not manipulate laws to bar the organization from carrying its humanitarian activities in the country (Weinstein, Whittington & Leiba, 2003).

Apparently, it is required that social workers, in essence, “will use finances only for the purposes for which they are granted and account for their expenditure with accuracy” (Australian Association of Social Workers, 2010, p. 21). However, disaster recovery management has become challenging for Red Cross due to misuse of funds. Its employees use the funds intended to help victims to meet their personal needs. The organization needs to embrace accountability. Its team members should be forced to account for every dollar used. Proper keeping of financial records could greatly help (Andries, 2009). Also, to improve the morale of the staff, the organization should also properly remunerate its staff. The remuneration and reward system should be impartial to avoid making the team disunited.

Red Cross should also increase the amount of resources distributed to vulnerable populations. For instance, it should increase the funds allocated to victims in vulnerable environments such as India and Africa (Colin & American National Red Cross, 2006). Increasing the resources distributed to such populations will make crisis management easier in case a disaster strikes. However, apart from increasing financial resources, the organization should also increase its personnel in such environments. It must also ensure that the personnel sent to such populations are well trained and equipped to handle any eventuality.

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  1. Andries, A. (2009). The international challenges facing humanitarian law today, 125 years after its creation. International Review of the Red Cross, 29(273), 557. doi:10.1017/s0020860400074891
  2. Australian Association of Social Workers. (2010). Code of ethics. Canberra: AASW.
  3. Australian Association of Social Workers. (2013). Practice Standards. Canberra: AASW.
  4. Beaubien, J. (2015). Behind The Story: What Made NPR Look Into Red Cross Efforts In Haiti? : Goats and Soda : NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/06/05/412071811/behind-the-story-what-made-npr-look-into-red-cross-efforts-in-haiti
  5. Colin, C., & American National Red Cross. (2006). The changing face of help: The American Red Cross turns 125. Washington, DC: American National Red Cross.
  6. Weinstein, J., Whittington, C., & Leiba, T. (2003). Collaboration in social work practice. London: Jessica Kingsley.
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