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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why Aren’t We Giving More To Relief Efforts In Pakistan?

I was on a radio program earlier this week discussing the sluggish charitable response to the natural disaster in Pakistan. The floods, said to be the worst in 80 years, have left more than 1,600 dead, 2 million homeless, and millions more impacted. So, with such a massive need for aid, why is it that little money is being donated?

Here are some of the possible reasons:
  • Recession – Overall, giving in America was down 3.6% from 2008 to 2009. People, corporations, foundations and governments simply have less to give.
  • Recent Disasters –Donors already responded generously this year to the Haiti earthquake (more than $1 billion given in the first 4 months) and to a lesser extent the earthquake in Chile and the Gulf oil spill ($4 million donated in the first 6 weeks). They may not be motivated or able to give again --- this is the so-called donor fatigue syndrome.
  • Haiti – The media has reported that much of the promised aid money has not yet reached Haiti and that relief efforts have been very slow. This leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those that contributed and cause them to think twice about supporting relief efforts in another part of the world.
  • Summer – Sadly, the timing of this tragedy may be having an impact on donations. Many people are on vacation and outdoors enjoying the summer. They may not be paying as close attention to the news as they do at other times of the year.
  • Media Coverage – In contrast to the coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, the media coverage of the Pakistan floods has been minimal. As they say, out of sight, out of mind.
  • Victims - The scale of the Pakistan disaster has eclipsed the disastrous tsunami in South Asia in 2004 (which generated donations of more than $1.5 billion). Yet, tens of thousands died in the tsunami, not to mention the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives in Haiti this past January.
  • Corruption/ Terrorism Link – Potential donors may be weary of the government and others in Pakistan. They worry if their contribution will really be used to provide aid, as they intented, or diverted to causes they do not wish to fund. In fact, there are already reports that various Pakistan charities, which are fronts for terrorist groups, are getting involved.
  • Government – Even with concerns over corruption and ineptitude, some may view the government in Pakistan as being more able to care for its citizens than, for example, the government in Haiti. For example, the government’s capacity to help had a dampening effect on giving to Chile after February’s earthquake.
Still, various countries and world organizations (such as the US, Europe, the World Bank and the UN) have pledged more than $100 million with about $10-$20 million of that already at work. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is even asking Americans to donate $10 via text messaging. And there are many charities, including Concern Worldwide US, Direct Relief International, Oxfam America, United States Fund for UNICEF, Islamic Relief USA, Plan USA, Save the Children, CARE, Relief International, and ActionAid International USA that are fundraising and providing various types of immediate aid (food, water, medicine, sanitation and housing).

So, we want to know, have you given? Why or why not?
(Photo provided by Shutterstock.com)

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Unknown said...

Important fact: not a lot of Nationals form donor countries amongst the victims. In this category, the Tsunami did exceptionally well, in Hiti, there were a lot of NGOs active.

Shell said...

For me, an American Muslim convert married to a Pakistani, my main concern is giving to a reputable charity. One that has absolutely NO ties to any terrorist organization-- or persons who have supported such. This puts me in a very difficult position. I WANT to donate, but I always stop myself because I cannot be certain whether or not the charity or organization I choose is "clean." I think with the war on terror and the governments response to money going in and out has definitely made it harder for people like myself. My husband is automatically guilty by default, therefore family contributions along with any charitable ones must be made with EXTREME care--and often small amounts(less than we would like --and are able-- to give)

I really appreciate this site you have set up and it has given me hope and I am eager to give. I see here that there are reputable organizations that have been checked out and have good reputations.

This site has helped alleviate any fears or concerns I may have in donating to Islamic Relief USA for the flood victims in Pakistan.

Thank You

PSB said...

Nobody has asked me for a donation for Pakistan.

With Haiti, I got emails from Doctors Without Borders, the American Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, etc. But with Pakistan, nothing. I guess those charities don't work in Pakistan?

Jillian said...

I think you forgot "raging Islamophobia" as a reason people aren't giving.

Unknown said...

I think Americans view Pakistan with suspicion. The perception is that it is hiding Osama Bin Laden and that it has done little to help with the war in Afghanistan while accepting billions in foreign aid from the US. Add to that the fear that the money will end up in the hands of terrorists and you can see why help is slow in coming. In addition to that, any country who can afford to manufacture and keep nuclear weapons should be wealthy enough to take care of its people.

Unknown said...

WOW thanks for giving people a whole list of reasons NOT to donate.

RLH said...

I gave through UNICEF. Where is the big TV special for aid to Pakistan? "Whatsoever you do for the least of my bretheran that you do unto me."