M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 191

Better Together: Showcasing Goonj's Alliance to Provide Effective Disaster Response in India

Harmanpreet Kaur Bhullar
Sabarathinam Selvaraj


Overview and Summary

One of India’s most impactful and successful non-profits, Goonj, has been working to advance the disaster relief ecosystem in India over several decades. Goonj has been working together collaboratively with several partners across the country and globally and decided to formalize this already ongoing effort into an alliance. To achieve this, Goonj initiated action to setup a formal cross sectoral alliance with precommitted resources to positively impact the ecosystem. This solution is unique and first-of-its kind, to bring together various actors involved, and those who need to be involved, to create exponential impact. This work is likely to be transformational, and expected to achieve a more coordinated, collaborative approach to rapid and sustained disaster relief.

The work that follows in this document is not original in its recognition for need to build an alliance for disaster response, or designing an alliance which has already been launched and executed by Goonj.

Our effort is focused on two objectives:

a) Document comprehensively the issues that precipitated the need for an alliance from Goonj’s perspective, and present Goonj’s solution.

b) Build a briefing book, as an external team on some elements of the organization.

In terms of methodology, first, we aim to establish the ideal disaster response landscape. Following this, we assess the gaps in the Indian ecosystem (grounded in Goonj’s existing efforts), contrast it to the ideal disaster landscape, to consolidate the problem statement. We crystallize the problems into needs to support the idea of an alliance and the solution (that Goonj already developed internally). We relied on literature to educate ourselves on the leading thinking on the best approach to responding to and preparing for disasters and expert interviews to understand bottlenecks.

Based on our analysis, we support and reinforce Goonj’s proposed solution to build an alliance to solve the problem. Based on the problem statement, we then document which stakeholders need to be involved in this effort. Goonj has already identified key stakeholders (like major donors, media organizations and other resource contributors) and initiated efforts to bring them on board. Our effort, through this exercise, is to ground the list of potential partners based on first principles and to achieve comprehensiveness. Building on this, in the second section, we document the scope of activities, building a value proposition for partners, governance, and operations. Goonj has already undertaken its own work for the alliance and initiated many of these efforts.

The briefing book is not comprehensive but is instead focused on documenting, supporting and showcasing Goonj’s alliance.

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