Failure of Tsunami Reconstruction

18 months after the tsunami of 2004 in Southeast Asia triggered the biggest humanitarian response in history, recriminations are rife about failed reconstruction efforts. Canadians and the Canadian government gave generously to aid victims of the disaster. A new report indicates that much of that aid may have been wasted.Aid agencies are being accused of "planning poorly, raising unrealistic expectations and simply being incompetent".

According to the Associated Press, brand-new homes infested with termites are being torn down in Indonesia while families in India were put into shelters deemed of "poor quality" and "uninhabitable" because of the heat. Thousands of boats donated to fishermen in Indonesia and Sri Lanka sit idle because they are unseaworthy or too small. Only 23 percent of the $10.4 billion in disaster aid to the worst hit countries, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, has been spent, according to the United Nations, because so much of it is earmarked for long-term construction projects.

As the NGOs shifted to reconstruction, excessive amounts of money meant that spending decisions were often driven by "politics and funds, not assessment and needs," according to the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition or TEC, an independent body that includes over 40 humanitarian agencies and donors.

In a July report, TEC called the aid effort "a missed opportunity." It said there were too many inexperienced NGOs working in disaster zones, while seasoned agencies jumped into areas they knew nothing about -- Medecins Sans Frontieres Belgium built boats while Save the Children constructed houses.

The report also accused NGOs of leaving many survivors ignorant about their plans or failing to deliver promised aid. "A combination of arrogance and ignorance characterized how much of the aid community misled people," it said.


Anonymous said...

A tragic story becomes even worse. I remember the television ads asking for funds and the generous response of Canadians, matched by the government. Now it looks like much of the money has been wasted. The NGOs were not trained and equipped for the huge scale of this reconstruction effort.

Candace said...

This story just pi$$es me off. I gave. Thankfully, I split my "give" between generic NGO $ and WorldVision for a specific child, who is still doing fine etc.

Next time, I know where to send ALL my cash.