Pakistan floods: Why aid is so slow compared to Haiti earthquake
Pakistan floods have displaced 4 million people, but aid to the country has been at a trickle compared to other catastrophes, such as the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake.
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Ms. Scribner says the sluggish response may be due to donor fear over how the government in Pakistan will use funds. So-called donor fatigue, just six months after historic giving went to Haiti, and concerns over UN inefficiency could also be playing a role. “It’s also an unfortunate fact that different types of disasters attract different levels of attention and different levels of funding,” she says. “Tsunamis and earthquakes, for example, historically have tended to attract higher levels of funding than slower onset disasters such as droughts and floods.”Skip to next paragraph
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Kenneth Ballen, the founder of the DC-based Terror Free Tomorrow, agrees that the slow-moving nature of this disaster could be a reason that the world has not mobilized. “It is a less visual, less dramatic and immediate disaster, even if it threatens to be a far greater one,” he says.
The distance factor
He also says that Pakistan might not draw as much empathy from American donors because of distance. Haiti is considered by many in the US a southern neighbor. Another factor, he says, could be “the image of Pakistan as a haven of extremism.”
Aid organizations are calling for more help, with Mr. Ban hosting a meeting at the UN Thursday to attempt to mobilize the international community. Some 20 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan, and according to UN data based on government figures, 8 million require emergency assistance. Nearly 800,000 people have received food from the UN and its partners, and 1.4 million have received access to clean water.
Nearly a million have received shelter material, but this is just a fraction of what is required moving forward.
Scribner says that with huge swathes of the country under water, water-borne diseases are risks ahead, as well as severe malnutrition. The US has committed $82.8 million, according to the UN, which outpaces other countries.
Ballen says, however, that in the long-term the US could lose if it does not respond faster and more forcefully. During the 2004 tsunami, which killed over 200,000 people, and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan that killed 75,000, the US launched massive recovery efforts. His organization polled residents in Indonesia and Pakistan in the wake of both tragedies on their attitudes towards the US and its recovery operations. In Indonesia approval soared, to 65 percent.
In Pakistan, after 2005, approval ratings doubled to 46 percent after American aid began to pour in, up from 23 percent six months prior to the quake.
“Right now some of the radical groups in Pakistan are on the frontlines of delivering aid, as they did during the earthquake, until the US stepped in with a massive effort,” he says.