Pakistan & Haiti 2010: Investing in Prevention?
This past year saw a devastating earthquake in Haiti and enormous floods in Pakistan. Two mega-disasters in one year, leading to destruction, suffering and – thankfully –a wave of sympathy across the globe.
The earthquake and the floods were violent reminders of the power of nature, and of the unpredictable character of natural disasters. And the enormous scale of the destruction in both countries reminded us that natural disasters always discriminate: they have much greater consequences in poor countries, and for poor people.
The natural ‘hazard’ of an earthquake became a ‘disaster’ in Haiti, because it hit a country with a long history of poverty and under-development, and with very little capacity to prevent disaster. The floods in Pakistan would have overwhelmed the richest of nations, but devastated this country.
Both countries turned to the international community for help. And in both cases giant relief operations brought much-needed relief, despite the destruction of infrastructure and, in Haiti’s case, the near destruction of the Government’s capacity to coordinate the response.
But emergency aid will not be enough. Food aid will not rebuild cities; emergency tents do not restart an economy; and bandages do not heal emotional scars.
Both countries will need at years of international support to come out of the crisis, to recover economically, and to be able to take charge of their own development again. They will need aid to help provide essential services, and to undo the vulnerability of the past. Haiti and Pakistan don’t just need to be rebuilt. They need to be rebuilt better, with less risk of disaster in the future.
And we in Ireland can help. We have built a reputation in emergency response and long-term development, and our overseas aid programme has given us influence on the world stage. Our efforts to help create a more prosperous and equitable world will also directly benefit our own small, open economy, which depends on security, stability, confidence and international trading partners that value who we are. In short, overseas aid is also good for Ireland.
Entry filed under: Development Effectiveness, Overseas aid. Tags: Disaster Risk Reduction, Earthquake, Emergencies, Floods, global poverty, Haiti, Humanitarian Aid, Ireland, Irish NGOs, Overseas aid, Pakistan, Smart Aid, UN.