From energy to keep the lights on, to power for medical relief, clinics and hospitals; to pumping potable water from deeper and cleaner wells; or energy needed to cook food and boil water – fuel is a basic requirement after disasters. People living in remote areas may also depend on access to basic services by vehicles, powered by fuel. After disasters, lack of access to services intensifies vulnerability of poor populations - including children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities. Access to fuel is crucial to reduce suffering, improve chances of survival and withstand disaster impacts of people affected by disasters.
The reality is that access to fuel, and fuel infrastructure is complicated, and it is fragile in developing countries or remote areas that may be reliant on imports from regional access points and vendors. When a disaster hits and fuel systems shut down - a lack of fuel often translates to lack of access to the basic means for survival – including heat, light, means of cooking, and access to clean water, shelter and medical aid.
Further exacerbating this situation, humanitarian agencies require fuel and are unable to access it as well to provide life-saving relief to affected populations. After Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013, National Public Radio’s (NPR) "All Things Considered" exposed this systemic lack of fuel in their program, "A Chronic Problem in Disaster Zones: No Fuel". When the Typhoon hit, most fuel stations shut down, with fuel not even available on the black market. Relief agencies were without fuel to conduct damage assessments and distribute aid. Stations were rationing their small supplies to only half a gallon per person at six times the normal cost, with people waiting in line for hours. This unfortunate scenario is all too commonplace – even in developed countries where fuel stations shut down when power is not available.
As NPR stated, FRF was the only organization on the ground in the Philippines providing free fuel to those who needed it – local people and aid agencies alike. The FRF First Response Team re-opened access to the fuel supply chain and distributed it in the areas of greatest need.
FRF continues this service today, operating as the only charitable organization in the world focusing on reopening access to fuel after major disasters, and sourcing free fuel for affected populations and relief agencies. The FRF Board and volunteer First Response Teams utilize unique know how and capacity in disaster management, security, fuel infrastructure and systems, and knowledge of how to navigate the fuel 'system map' - and its gaps - in disaster situations. This translates to making fuel access happen rapidly when and where it is most needed.