Some of us have been having an email exchange online about how we can help tsunami victims. Here is an email from Antoin that I found particularly interesting. It concurs with an IHT article I read the other day which said the biggest problem in many regions was not the volume of support but the coordination and the most limited resource was airspace, airstrips, and coordination.
I've been staying with some Sri Lankan friends living in London. But they really don't know what to do. They are perplexed really.
There is a relief effort, and a lot of people are doing a lot of work, but you'd have to wonder whether this is thought out to any great extent. I can imagine what will happen. In a week or two, tents and medical equipment will show up in SL in large volumes, but by that stage they will be useless. At that stage, they will be beginning to look for things like building supplies. Medical supplies are being shipped from the UK, and this is certainly an important contribution, but perhaps the money and effort could be better focused. You could buy them cheaper in China or Singapore, and the flight time is much shorter.
According to the News Lanka newsletter, a paper for the Sinhalese community in the UK, the government is turning down aid teams from places like Israel, because they already have too many relief workers. Perhaps the Sri Lankan government mistakenly thought that these were 'amateur' relief workers who were being sent.
There is a lot of talk about not being able to afford response systems. In reality, there was no problem predicting the tsunamis by all accounts, at least as far as India and Sri Lanka were concerned. The problem was that the seismologists had no idea who they should call when they found out what was happening.
Now there are false alarms happening and it is difficult for ordinary people to get good information. TV footage in the UK showed people running, because they thought another tsunami was coming. But the information people were getting from the government was incorrect. This will eventually turn into the story about the boy who cried 'wolf' too many times.
There really has to be a better way of going about this.
I absolutely agree with what Jack has written about land title. There is no point in funding the rebuilding the homes of the people effected, if they do not have at least some sort of title on the land. Of course, this only represents a small proportion of the land masses we are talking about, but it would be a great place to start on sorting out land ownership in SE Asia.