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December 26, 2004

Earthquake: How to Help

Unqualified Offerings points us to:

The Command Post - Global Recon - Earthquake: How to Help [Updated].

Posted by DeLong at December 26, 2004 06:20 PM

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» Earthquake - How to Help from Beautiful Horizons
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Tracked on December 26, 2004 06:54 PM


Anyone hear what happened to Bangladesh?

I'm not seeing much about it. A BBC map of countries effected shows all the neighbors, but Bangladesh is represented as unharmed, even though it's right in the middle.

In 1991, a tsunami killed 138,000 Bangladeshis. It seems odd that they'd have been spared this time - unless they took steps after the last one which spared them this time.

Posted by: Jon H at December 26, 2004 07:49 PM

Since much of what I buy and wear is made in Indonesia and Asia, tonight I went shopping at Old Navy, The GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Dell.

I figured that since the best thing I could do after 9/11 was to go shopping to help the American economy, and since this about on a par as 9/11, then clearly shopping at a bunch of outsourcers would be a good way to bring relief to quake victims.

(Note for the humor impaired: actually I donated to the Red Cross, and this is more a statement poking at Bush's plea for us to go shopping as opposed to engage in civil preparation, and civil defense than it is a statement poking at outsourcers.)

Posted by: anon at December 26, 2004 08:27 PM

Jon, Bangladesh might have escaped (they always get nailed) this time because of the distance involved. Even in India, only the state of Tamil Nadu and the Andaman & Nicobar islands have been drastically impacted. The states north of Tamil Nadu (Andhra, Orissa) suffered some casualties but not a whole lot.

The toll seems to be climbing rapidly. Reports suggest that the toll in Tamil Nadu (my home state) alone is well above 2500 and in the Andaman & Nicobar islands the estimates are above 3000 and continues to climb. Some of the southern islands in the archipelago are still cut-off.

Finally, thanks to Brad for higlighting this. They need all the help they can get.

Posted by: Karthik R at December 27, 2004 12:17 AM


Thanks for putting up the link. was very useful as most people have the heart to help but don't seem to know the ways..

As Karthik put it .. "they need all the help they can get".

Posted by: Navin at December 27, 2004 02:09 AM

Command post was one of the very fist blog type sites I started going to during the Iraq invasion. then as I started tor ealize what a pack of lies the war was built on and started to ask questions, then I realized what a bunch of slime the right wing is...

Posted by: Aaron at December 27, 2004 12:39 PM

I am also maintaining a list of relief funds and donation opportunities on my blog, and would appreciate it if people would please leave information about other donation opportunities in comments. Thank you for highlighting this, Professor DeLong!




Posted by: Saheli at December 27, 2004 02:47 PM

About India - the Maldives have been hit, as I thought they would be when I heard the first reports about mainland India. While the Maldives reports have come in, I'm surprised to hear nothing from the Laccadives (Lakshadweep).

There is also a supsicious silence from Diego Garcia; I would expect that US logistics in the area have been seriously disrupted in the short term.

I have heard Australian care groups asking for money rather than materials like blankets, which makes sense. Only, at least one (Care Australia, speaking through Tony Eggleton) has stated that it intends to apply the funds locally as that will be quicker than getting materials to the disaster areas. With a disaster of this magnitude there are few resources on the spot so that will just bid up prices and make locals more dependent on charity since their savings will run out sooner. Even when there are smaller scale disasters, stocks get held back until the prices are higher, and shipping in outside supplies is good for releasing local resources since it signals the end of high prices.

Of course, Tony Eggleton may have been thinking that buying supplies in Bangkok and sending them to Phuket is spending locally, but if he does he doesn't know what he is talking about. "Local" is where the disaster is - and there, there is an insufficiency of supplies. Spending locally will indeed draw supplies in from outside, but it is NOT immediate (Tony Eggleton's justification for it), and it reduces the effectiveness of the aid effort, which is capped in nominal terms if people are being asked to give in the form of cash.

All in all, I would urge people thinking of using Care Australia to try to clarify what they really have in mind, and if it doesn't make sense after that, use a different agency with people on the spot.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence at December 27, 2004 09:16 PM

Extensive coverage at Worldchanging.

Help links at http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/001811.html

Map at http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/001805.html

News links at http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/001814.html

Excellent animated diagram (with time scale!) at http://staff.aist.go.jp/kenji.satake/animation.gif

Posted by: Randolph Fritz at December 28, 2004 12:21 AM

P.M. Lawrence,

Having lived in northern Thailand, I remember thinking that both Bangkok and Phuket were foreign countries.

Seriously, I found your post on Care Australia interesting. I'm not a disaster relief specialist, although I've read a bit about it. I probably know just enough to really have things screwed up in my own mind. Anyway, if I remember correctly Fred Cuny was a big advocate of "buying locally" in famine relief efforts. Was Cuny wrong, or is Care Australia misapplying a principle of famine relief to a natural disaster?

Posted by: aiontay at December 28, 2004 04:48 AM

Everyone everywhere should give especially considering the American gov't's paltry $15M contribution. via Eschaton, the inauguration will cost well over double that amount. pathetic.

Posted by: sunship at December 28, 2004 06:25 AM

Aiontay, those are good questions. Basically, the "buy locally" principle is sound in two ways that don't apply here:-

- to get at local services, e.g. labourers, and so rebuild the local economy rather than squeezing people off the land (say) by bringing in tractors (I'm oversimplifying a bit here);

- to get the local distribution systems rebuilt so that the charity similarly doesn't displace local distribution systems.

As you can see, the focus is on not doing long term harm by crowding out what remains of what is local. Similarly, it is better to send funds to the region than to collect (and sort etc.) goods from elsewhere and send them there.

As against that, those are longer term issues and become less material in the face of major disasters. The famine relief thing is (these days) starvation relief rather than famine relief, chronic rather than a short term crash-through-or-crash crisis (the original meaning of "crisis").

Since Tony Eggleton was quite clear about spending locally to meet immediate need, he is clearly barking up the wrong creek; either he doesn't know what he is doing, or he does know what he is doing but he doesn't know what he is talking about.

And it does look as though this is a major but very short term problem, one that does need supplies from elsewhere but isn't a long term problem in many respects. One of the major relief objectives is to prevent any opportunistic problems getting going and locked in, things like epidemics. For that, the charities know by now they should offer to help the central authorities but avoid being too many cooks, which leaves no local role. For immediate supplies, they can indeed pay local truck drivers (say), but they shouldn't pay local rug merchants for

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence at December 28, 2004 07:09 AM

surely the best thing you could do is buy a holiday to one of the worst affected areas to help these people get their lives back together again.

Posted by: Giles at December 28, 2004 08:16 AM


Posted by: Fred at December 28, 2004 04:24 PM

P.M. Lawrence,

Thanks for the explination.

Posted by: aiontay at December 28, 2004 05:54 PM

Yes, Giles, in the medium term. But right now, what? We're all floundering, metaphorically. Usually the best is to get behind existing efforts, like armed forces doing "in support of the civil power". And luckily there don't seem to be any outright failed states in the affected areas, not even Burma (Myanmar). You do have to worry about relief efforts being channeled away from dissenters though, as in the last days of East Pakistan and the last days of outright right wing dictatorship in Nicaragua (remember those?). That's why independent efforts also count. But what if they screw up in the short term?

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence at December 29, 2004 12:29 AM

Burma was hit. There were at least 90 deaths in the delta so far and there will probably be more. Not quite on the level of Thailand or Sri Lanka, but given the lack of infrastructure and a paranoid government, you can expect that any reporting from there will be incomplete. You might want to go to www.irrawaddy.org to get the latest reporting.

Posted by: aiontay at December 29, 2004 04:43 AM

>surely the best thing you could do is buy a >holiday to one of the worst affected
>areas to help these people get their
>lives back together again.

It will probably be a while before at least swedish tourist return in big numbers.
Over 1500 Swedish citizens are still missing in Thailand. Probably the deathtoll for Swedes alone will be in that region.
All numbers of victims in regard to Thailand seem a bit low when you consider how many people that are still missing with very slim chances they are going to reappear.

Posted by: Gusta at December 29, 2004 01:53 PM

I have had word from Cochin that Lakshadweep (Laccadives) has escaped the fury of the Tsunami. Good fortune for those lucky people whose islands have hardly a high ground let alone a sturdy structure.

Posted by: K Niederer at December 29, 2004 11:28 PM

On my blog, I have posted a comprehensive list of charities accepting donations for Tsunani relief efforts. I have vetted most of them to keep the bogus ones out. The full list is here --



Posted by: Reuben at December 30, 2004 10:06 PM

I am surprised too that no mention of the Laccadives. We were there on Bangaram 1 week before xmas and know that there were at 13 tourist on the island and the plane was not due to get there untill 27/28th

Posted by: rosemary at December 31, 2004 07:42 AM

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