Thursday, June 30, 2005

Unkept promises

Via BlogGreen: The Independent reports that the Asian Tsunami is turning out just like every other disaster. As usual, the west has made big promises, but has failed to deliver on them:

Government aid which was pledged to tsunami victims in an outpouring of sympathy following this century's worst humanitarian disaster has not all materialised. According to ActionAid, both Japan and Britain have met virtually all of their initial commitments, but the US and the European Union have delivered barely a third of their promised funds. Australia has come up with just 7 per cent of the money it committed to tsunami relief and reconstruction efforts.

The full figures are in ActionAid's press release:

Bottom of the pledge list is Australia. Australia is a key player in the region, but has so far only managed to give 7% of the money they committed to the emergency relief and reconstruction effort.

Next comes France with a meagre 13%, followed by Germany with 15%, then the Netherlands with 16%. The United States and the European Commission have delivered on just over a third of their pledge, 38%, yet Canada has only handed over 20%. Norway has only managed 46% while Italy has given 59% of its promised money.

Leading the way are the UK and Japanese governments. The British government has provided 97% of the aid money it committed to donate, whilst Japan has a perfect score of 100%.

To be fair, this doesn't tell the whole story. Australia's commitment, in particular, was supposed to be spread over a number of years - as I believe was the US's. But the rest is pretty shameful, especially in the case of France, whose contribution was pretty low in the first place.

As for how New Zealand ranks, we've kept our promise, delivering 76% of our initial pledge, with most of the balance explicltly earmarked to be spent over four years. I don't think we have anything to be ashamed of.

The lesson here is that it is easy for governments to promise aid in the face of public demand, and then not deliver. And the only way this will change is if people keep an eye on them and embarass them into keeping their promises.


Is Australias 7% bigger than New Zealands 76% ?
Are these % figures in relation to what they should have given regarding the timeframe they said they would be paid in or as a total of what they have given to date?

Posted by Anonymous : 6/30/2005 12:56:00 PM

Yes. Australia's promise has been extremely generous.

I think that ActionAid is just looking at amount paid vs amount promised; what they should be doing is looking at when the money was expected to be spent. This would paint a better picture for Australia (whose commitment is IIRC a decade-long), and the US. But as I said, France has no excuse; they've just promised and not delivered.

There's an obvious project here for more detailed information gathering, but it would require volunteers in lots of different countries.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/30/2005 01:13:00 PM