Monday, June 13, 2005

Keeping our promises II

One of the problems with disaster relief aid is that they are often not carried out. Governments can make extravagent promises in the wake of natural disasters in response to public pressure and sympathy. Then, as the issue drops off the radar, the money is never spent. So, back in January, I promised to use the OIA to keep an eye on the government's progress in spending the $68 million it had promised in assistance to the victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami. I've just received the response to my first request. To summarise, the government has spent $51,802,303 of its $68 million allocation. Two significant areas of spending remain outstanding: $14,834,852 (out of an initial $16 million) is allocated for ongoing reconstruction programmes in Aceh over the next four years (the initial allocation for the IOM's shelter construction programme in Aceh has been overspent by $1.2 million this year), and $1.5 million for health-related reconstruction in Sri Lanka has been delayed pending a formal proposal from Auckland's Sri Lankan community; it has been rolled over until next financial year.

Of the $20 million budgeted for UN agencies, $7 million went to the UN Development Programme, $5 million to the World Food Programme, $3 million to the UN High Commission for Refugees, $3 million for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and $1 million each to the UN Fund for Population Activities and the UN Fund for Women. I have no breakdown of the $19 million given to NZ NGOs to match public donations, but details are available (the details I have refer to an attached schedule which wasn't attached).

No information is available on how the NZ Police and Defence Force spent the $5 million allocated for their direct aid activities (providing aircraft and helicopters and identifying bodies). This will be the subject of a further request.

So, the New Zealand governemnt is keeping its promises to the victims of the asian tsunami. How's everybody else doing?