India Uncut

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Too many benevolent cooks

Aid agencies have started calling for the UN to take charge of the relief efforts, saying that the scale of the operations is so vast that central coordination is needed. The Guardian quoted Louis Michel, the EU commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid, as saying: “I am very anxious about the linkage between the emergency phase and the second phase of rehabilitation and reconstruction. If there is a gap between the two phases, I think it will have catastrophic consequences.”

There is, certainly, a large amount of waste that takes place in the process of giving relief, much of it by the government. Relief that is badly planned and administered can lead to disaster, as well – for more on this, read this essay.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, India’s petroleum minister, who has been touring Tamil Nadu looking after the relief operation there, said yesterday in a television interview that one of the first items on his list of priorities for aid was “heavy earth-moving equipment”. The debris needed to be cleared, he said. I wonder how much help he would have received in that regard by now. Meanwhile people in my neighbourhood are rushing out to donate old clothes, most of which, I am sure, will be wasted.
amit varma, 1:05 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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