When Does MAF Respond to Disasters?


This is the first in a three-part series of posts about MAF and disaster response.

While MAF maintains ongoing operations in countries all around the world, its ability to respond immediately to disasters is critical for both the suffering people and the agencies trying to help.

Following the recent earthquakes and tsunamis that struck Japan, MAF supporters and media members alike asked why MAF isn’t involved in the relief effort there. In short, MAF’s expertise is best served when aiding in a disaster that occurs in a remote location.

“Though the needs are significant and urgent, the aviation and communication services that MAF offers in remote areas are not appropriate for Japan’s more urban environment,” MAF President and CEO John Boyd recently said in a statement.

So, just how does MAF decide to respond?

John Woodberry, MAF’s manager of security and disaster response, provided some insight into the philosophy of MAF’s disaster response approach.

“Once a disaster strikes, MAF’s team attempts to answer a host of questions to determine if MAF’s assistance is necessary and, if so, what the immediate and long-term ramifications of involvement are,” Woodberry said.

Here are some of the filters used to determine if actionable steps are required:

  • Is this God’s leading?
  • Are there acute unmet needs?
  • Can what MAF does help the situation?
  • Are communities vulnerable?
  • Is local capacity insufficient to deal with the scale of the disaster?
  • What is the NGO/Mission presence in disaster location? Do they need MAF-type support?
  • Will we truly meet needs and with God’s help transform lives?

Disaster response is a key part of MAF’s mission. However, this type of checks and balances keeps MAF focused on utilizing its strengths of aviation and technology with other partner organizations to serve isolated people in desperate situations.

Over the next two weeks, check back for more posts when Woodberry explains how MAF prepares to respond in disaster situations as well as what is in his disaster response “go-bag”.

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