Photo: Screenshot of kickstarter.com
Often in development aid, misery and natural disasters determine where the money goes. The tsunami that devastated Banda Aceh in 2004 could be seen all over the news for many weeks. The recent Haitian earthquake is still very present in many minds and may touch our conscience in such a way that we gladly give our money to respective development agencies. As a consequence, these places are swarmed with NGOs, IOs and private initiatives creating and realizing projects.
Yet, isn’t that exactly the purpose of development aid? To help people in need? Yes, but meanwhile a disaster victim in Banda Aceh receives 5 tents, 7 pairs of shoes and tons of goods of development aid for years to come, children in the poorer regions of Africa, South America or elsewhere lack the public attention to attract comparable support.
Relying heavily on organizations such as the UN Development Programme or US Aid, funding of projects in unknown and remote areas can be very difficult. It is a widespread practice that agencies, especially those which count on private financial contributions, use the “big disasters” to raise money and then redirect these funds to cross-finance smaller, less known projects in other regions. However, this practice is often prone to intransparency, fraud and improper management.
Map of Port-au-Prince based on OpenStreetMap data
For all the criticism about open collaborative projects, these have one unquestionable asset: the speed and efficiency of updates.
In crisis situations such as the Haiti earthquake, this makes all the difference. I’ve been following the developments of OpenStreetMap (OSM) after the first earthquake hit and it’s fascinating. Just check this comparision with Google to convince yourself (play with the transparency in the top right corner).
Helicopter drops a first aid kit near the Haitian National Palace/ Photo: UNDP, flickr
“There are still people under the rubble. The count is not 100,000. There’s has to be at least [400,000] to 500,000 that are about to die.
I’m on the ground. The numbers are high. […] We spent the day picking up dead bodies. That’s all we did.” – Music artist Wyclef Jean talking to Fox News about what he’s seen on the ground in Haiti.
Jean’s organization, Yele is collecting donations for the quake-devastated country. Medecins Sans Frontieres is also on the ground and seeing patients. MSF also has video updates of the situation.
ISN Security Watch republishing partner swissinfo’s parent organization Swiss Broadcasting Corporation swissinfo is accepting donations for Haiti through Swiss Solidarity.
Please consider donating to the organizations listed above or one of your choice.
Background information on Haiti’s security and economic situation
- In July, Andrew Thomson reported on Haiti’s Annus Horribilis and how international leaders pledged to not give up on the country.
Manila flooding / Photo: rembcc, flickr
With flooding in the Phlippines from Typhoon Parma and another system, Typhoon Marla, bearing down on East and Southeast Asia, severe weather events are again in the news, making this week’s focus at the ISN on natural disasters all the more pertinent.
And even though one can’t say if these are the direct result of climate change, many wonder if staving off the effects, such as hurricanes, is possible through man-made means: geoengineering. Dr Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Department of Global Ecology at Stanford tells us in the latest edition of ISN Podcasts that human intervention should be the last resort.
And as always, keeping checking back during the week for updated features.