Are Chinese NGOs in Nepal “lonely islands”?

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A China Youth Daily article describes Chinese NGOs that took part in the Nepal earthquake relief effort as “lonely islands (孤岛)”. It acknowledges that the earthquake represented an important opportunity for Chinese NGOs to learn and participate in international collaborations, but says that their lack of experience and preparation limited their effectiveness.

According to the article, the China NGO Consortium for Nepal Earthquake 2015 (CNC-Nepal) didn’t work as well as expected. Chinese NGOs established the CNC-Nepal platform to share information and experiences with one another in order to respond efficiently. However when the Chinese NGOs arrived in Nepal they were faced with three major problems: communication problems, transportation difficulties, and a lack of local guides. These caused the Chinese organizations to become “lonely islands”. Even though all organizations were busy involved in rescue activities, the lack of collaboration eventually led each organization to become isolated from one another.

The article also describes how some of the Chinese NGOs’ shortcomings were exposed during the relief effort. One of the main issues was that most of the Chinese organizations lacked international experience. The China Youth Daily mentions that members of the Chinese NGO teams also expressed that they could have done better preparation work before arriving in Nepal. Lots of their equipment didn’t get to Nepal on time and that also limited the rescue work. Reflecting back on their experiences in Nepal, members of the NGO rescue teams said that in the future they need to be better at communicating with local airports and other local forces. They also said that they would benefit from more training in the future and should become better at information-gathering.