Long term obectives with short term aid?

The Uk has raised £45 million in three days. The Republic’s government is facing criticism over the low levels of aid proffered. But as the FT points out it its leader today, the first responses are not the important ones, it’s the long term that matters.

In fact the problem of bringing relief lies in the fact that most of the victims lie on the edge of a globalised economy (not unlike the majority of the victims of the Irish famine):

Like mountain- and forest-dwellers, coastal communities are often some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Even the tourist beaches of globalised, middle-income Thailand host small, isolated and poor Muslim communities, sometimes called “sea-gypsies” from their nomadic traditions. Picturesqueness belies poverty. Scratching out a living from small-scale fishing, frequently at subsistence level, many coast-dwellers live with a perilously small margin of sufficiency.

Though the initial response has been powerful, the problems may only be capable of solving when the rest of us turn our backs and go back tour own more pressing local realities:

The traditional pattern of aid after a natural disaster or a war in poor and unstable countries goes like this. Offers of cash or aid in kind – which, not being fungible, are far less effective – mount rapidly in the days following the event, often before communications have been properly established or networks set up to distribute and spend it. By the start of reconstruction, interest has waned and actual aid disbursements fall short of pledges. Finally, when the worst effects of the disaster have been repaired or simply faded from view, the country sinks back into obscurity, the chronic problems of poverty and poor government which exacerbated the disaster unresolved.

Finally, the letters page of the FT is led by an interesting piece from Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir of WHO. He believes with the extra resources the international focus, there should a serious attempt to bring chlorinated water and proper sanitation to all.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    The Examiner article doesn’t take many prisoners.

  • Davros

    I don’t know why people are surprised or indignant, the wealthy countries do very, very little for the Millions who die needlessly year in, year out.
    There will be the usual big sticking plaster applied to consciences abraded by media hype , and once people and Governments feel virtuous, normal day to day deaths of thousands from preventable diseases, hunger and war will continue. I remember the excitement and self-praise over the original band-aid, the feeling that we had turned a corner and that famines in future would not be allowed to devastate less wealthy parts of the world.

  • maca

    The link to the examiner article is obsolete, the Irish government is giving €10m.

  • Alan2

    Ulster Newsletter
    Paisley urges support for quake victims

    PEOPLE in Northern Ireland should support “the anguished souls” of south east Asia in any way they can, the Rev lan Paisley urged last night.

    In his New Year message, the DUP leader said those who were suffering as a result of the earthquake and tidal waves thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean were “our neighbours” and needed our help.

    “As we stand at the threshold of a New Year,” he said, “we would do well to take time to get the future into focus and the most pressing situation is the terrible disaster in the Indian Ocean area of our world.

    “As I write, 70,000 lives have been lost, and the figures are mounting hourly. Identification problems are staggering.

    “But what of those who have survived? They have more disasters ahead of them in the spheres of separation, clothing, shelter, disease and much needed medical help.

    “These anguished souls are our neighbours, and as Christians we are to love our neighbours as ourselves.

    “The colossal need should not put us off making our contribution, because it will be the individual contributions which will turn the scales in the final countdown.

    “The sustained interest of the ordinary individual will, in the long run, keep the gravity of this sad calamity in focus.”

  • Alan2

    Black Santa seems to be on course to raise £500,000 in Belfast as £400,000 has already been raised.

  • Mick Fealty

    Interesting thoughts from the good doctor. This undoubtedly true, regardless of how much cash is raised in the short term:

    “The sustained interest of the ordinary individual will, in the long run, keep the gravity of this sad calamity in focus.”

  • James

    Short term, long term, whatever. What we are shown is that a little goading works wonders.

    A early this week after I mailed the check off to CARE, I complained in an email to my buddy in Tip that the miserly 35 million bucks (up from the 15 million initially pledged) the US had then pledged was puny: The Almaden branch of the San Jose Library is costing 17.5 million. You would think, I concluded, that if one wanted to impress the largest Muslim area in the world and pry them away from the bad guys, regardless of how cynical our attentions, the best approach would be to smother them with US largesse and Hershey bars.

    Ian Egeland’s “stingy” remark rocked F Troop a bit and sent them, initially, into a hissey fit. They have been riding on Reagan’s dubious contribution to the body politic of making the denial of compassion appear legitimate for a generation now and apparently gave it little thought. Having it rubbed in their noses, however, was obviously enough to spark a thought or two. For instance, Dubya might ask, what about this area’s relation to the “global war on terror” since they are the most populous Muslim area in the world and, ahem, doesn’t the area also produce over a million barrels of crude oil a day. That it took so long to dawn on them just shows that the germination of original thinking in Bush Administration’s has a half-life of over a couple of days.

    So the Bush Administration jumped the aid up to 350 million bucks, enough to build 20 branch libraries but hardly anything close to restoring the infrastructure on any of the islands. It also isn’t quite the magnitude of the second contract Bechtel got, 1.8 billion, to reconstruct the infrastructure in Iraq that we blew away in 2003.

    Today, the Japanese saw our 350 million and raised us 150 million.