Thursday, January 06, 2005

Giving "Smart" Aid

David Batstone, Executive Editor of Sojourners offers advice on how to give smart (and compassionate) aid to tsunami victims;

...A smart (and compassionate) aid agency will respond to a crisis with three key phases. The first phase is emergency relief. People have lost their homes, their livelihood, and are on the edge of survival. Immediate food and medical supplies are critical.

The second phase is reconstruction. A good deal of the critical infrastructure in the affected areas of Asia were wiped out. In order to alleviate the demand for emergency aid, reconstruction efforts are primary. A good relief organization will know which systems - sewage, water, housing, food sources - must be replaced, and in what order of priority.

The third phase is sustainable development. Here is where the credible development organization offers a plan for community education, nutrition, health care, appropriate technology, microenterprise, et al.

In consideration of the above, Sojourners is partnering with two faith-based relief organizations to deliver assistance to the victims of the tsunami in Asia: Jesuit Refugee Service and World Vision.

Long before this tragedy, both organizations had a strong presence in Sri Lanka and Indonesia among the poorest of the poor. Jesuit Refugee Service, for instance, had established strong, viable projects among displaced communities in these respective regions. They are now in "phase 1" of their relief efforts, delivering "emergency relief kits." And long after the media coverage is gone, Jesuit Refugee Service will be seeding sustainable development projects. Remarkably, 100% of your donations will reach the victims in Asia. In other words, no agency costs will be deducted.

World Vision has long had a presence in Asia as well with 3,700 staff, most of them members of local communities. They are now leading relief efforts, such as establishing 20 children's centers in Indonesia with special tents where traumatized children can receive physical and psychological support. Meanwhile, relief supplies - tarpaulins, sarongs, kitchen utensils, buckets, and other necessities - are heading toward the devastated province of Aceh in two cargo ships supplied by World Vision.

World Vision has worked out the amount of money needed to supply a single family a "survival" kit, containing things like blankets, water purification tablets, and tarps for temporary shelter: A gift of $100 provides an entire family with the basics of survival. In the spirit of full disclosure, 87% of a gift to World Vision reaches a family in need. Frankly, that relatively low "administrative cost" helps pay for the infrastructure for World Vision to deliver enormous quantities of aid in quick fashion...
Batstone worked in economic aid and development in Latin America for over twelve years.

Jesuit Refugee Service

World Vision


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