24 March 2011

Recycling Old Tricks

J. pretty much sums up exactly what I have been thinking in regards to the use of the Japan disaster as an opportunity to raise money.
Japan is only the most recent example, but it’s a poignant one. I’m not even up-to-date on the statistics (too busy ranting), but last I read it was something like half a million people fleeing Abijan, but no one knows or seems to care. The poorest country on the Arabian peninsula – Yemen – is about to totally melt down, and when it does there will be massive and widespread humanitarian need. Don’t even get me started on eastern DR Congo and it’s unfathomably high average of something like 10,000 women raped per year since 2001. Or my old favorite – Afghanistan and the seeming impossibility of scraping together a few measly tens of thousands of USD for disaster risk reduction. Real humanitarian need, for all practical purposes being ignored. “We can’t raise money for conflicts”, say the marketing departments.
And yet the good-hearted people of America have become convinced that the country which gives us Toyota, Nikon, Playstation III, that came very close to kicking our asses in WWII, and that almost owns us economically as it is, is somehow in dire need of our $10 donations (and apparently socks).

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
The focus is on the wrong place and the examples that he mentioned will likely fester under the rader. This is a major failure of the aid community. The DRC has been in shambles for a decade and people barely know what is going on. A stolen election has Cote d'Ivore on the brink of a full scale civil war with people fleeing the city and violence already taking place. These are major humanitarian crises that get little or no attention.

How about rather than making please to donate to support Japan so that money can be dropped into the big bucket and address other global problems, NGOs start to get a little honest and say where the money is intended to go. In the end, money will get there, donors will feel good inside, programs will be implemented and we will have to wait until the next high profile disaster or incident before going through the same process.

Yea, it is not sexy work. Heck, I am sure people can list reasons why this is a more effective way to raise money. However, it is a work around that perpetuates a much larger problem. If people do not want to support efforts in the DRC, then you need to change your message and tactics. This is making it easier for people to know less and remain ignorant.

It sure feels like we are recycling the same old solutions.