Friday, October 06, 2006

This, in itself, is worthy of a donation

A survivor of the October 8, 2005 earthquake prepares food for the iftar during Ramadan at a refuge camp in the devastated city of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir October 6, 2006. REUTERS/FAISAL MAHMOOD

Disaster appeals do more harm than good, says MSF.

LONDON (Alertnet) - Massive public appeals by aid agencies in the wake of disasters are wrong and should stop, a senior Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF) [Doctors Without Borders] official said. ...

Emergency donations are too late to be of use, and swiftly turn to poison as they encourage incompetent interventions by NGOs desperate to dispose of earmarked cash, he said during a debate at the London School of Economics.

"If we take this money we end up doing things we shouldn't do," he said. "Many NGOs don't have real disaster relief capacity but they go for an appeal because it is a source of funding. NGOs that have real capacity are crowded out by those that don't."

..."The real relief work during the first week of a disaster is already prepared, pre-planned and pre-paid," he said. "You buy tents months or years before you need them."

My goodness, this guy thinks the purpose of humanitarian outfits is to help, not to build bigger, better agencies. The horrible truth of institutionalized charity is that it does lead to bureaucracy and self-preservation/aggrandizement. It may also provide some aid, but I suspect that Gorik Ooms is right:

"After the tsunami, the dead people remained dead," Ooms said. "The survivors didn't need that much real relief - for the first 48 hours, yes they did, but if you couldn't be there then, after that you were not very useful."

As for long-term reconstruction: "That was beyond the capacity of most NGOs. I'm sure this disaster was not for MSF and I don't think it was for many NGOs."

For a person dependent on donor funding to speak this truth strikes me as heroic. If you agree, send some change to Doctors Without Borders.


Arcturus said...

Sad but true. & red cross can't account for much of the cash it collected after Katrina. MSf is certainly ine of the better NGO's working out there - tho I have seen some disturbing about their head pimping for a UN occupation in Darfur.

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