Douwe Osinga's Blog: Enough already with this Tsunami

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Am I the only one, or is this giving aid to the Tsunami victims getting out of hand? I mean, it is great and all that we finally have a disaster that strikes choir with people, may be because there are actually western tourists involved and it could have happened to us too, but we're loosing perspective here. Debt reduction and long term development plans are much more needed elsewhere.

A lot of people are dead and maybe 5 million lost their house. This makes it probably the worst natural disaster ever, if you don't count epidemics and other diseases. However, if you do count them and if we do count man-made disasters, this is nothing. It happened on Christmas so we give a little bit more, sure, but I'd say, let's move on. In the war in the Congo the last few years more than four million people died. But there was no huge aid effort there at all.

All in all the aid for the Tsunami disaster might end up being somewhere north of 10 billion dollar for may be 5 million people that lost there home. That is 2 000 each, which doesn't sound like a lot if you lost everything, but there are a billion people that make 2 000 dollars if they work for eight years. Sri Lanka and Indonesia might be hurt badly, but these are not the poorest of countries.

And there is a serious risk that aid that otherwise would have ended up with the very poor, is now going to Asia, where the local organizations admit that they are overwhelmed and don't really know what to do with all the money. Peoples generosity isn't endless and this bidding of countries against each other who is going to give more, well, you can spent money only once, so chances are this is paid out of existing aid budgets.

And if we talk about helping countries on the longer run, why not open our markets and ease immigration?