Aid and Reconstruction after a Disaster
INTRODUCTION In the wake of a great disaster it is natural to look for hope. We can, we think, at least draw lessons which will help guide us in the future. We can do better next time, we tell ourselves. We hope that the pain that vast numbers of people have suffered will not be in vain. This chapter will consider how realistic such hopes may be in the light of the 2004 Asian tsunami events and consider what lessons may be drawn from the experience of the delivery of aid following the tsunami. But for those who read these pages hoping for guidelines that can ensure considerable improvements in the delivery of disaster aid in development countries, a warning is in order. One of the main lessons of the delivery of assistance following the 2004 Asian tsunami is that much confusion and conflict is inevitable in the immediate aftermath of such situations. Local emergency institutions in poor countries are almost always greatly over-stretched in crises of this kind. The international community rarely responds much better either. Indeed, our single most important conclusion is that it is local communities – rather than the national or international communities – who are quickest to provide the most valuable practical immediate assistance following a great disaster. The policy implication is that within the extremely limited funding available to support emergency relief measures in poor countries, much greater priority needs to be given to strengthening local preparedness rather than funding delayed responses in the aftermath of...
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