Turning our current will into a sustained way

The unimaginable has become a reality. People on holiday and everyday communities in South East Asia in one day have bore witness life-changing personal losses. The tsunami calamity has hit us all ‘hard’. The areas affected are vast and varied in terms of infrastructure, economies and development. What these communities all have in common from Sunday 26th December is the following:

– Death – Destruction
– Disorder – Distress
– Despair – Deprivation

The latter is now at stake. Communities are suffering a lack of clean water, medication, sanitation facilities and food. Access is constrained to many locations due to flooding and eradication of basic logistical infrastructure. The threat of disease is looming.

The number of deaths and missing people resultant from the tsunami calamity unfortunately continues to grow. The worldwide response has been unbelievable and its shows that such tragedies ‘touch’ our souls.

Unfortunately, on an odd occasion recent tongue in cheek comments made by the national press about countries competing for who has raised the most for the tsunami tragedy is inappropriate. Instead, we should be endorsing Bill Clinton’s suggestion of adopting countries. ‘It is really important that somebody take the lead in this’ he said. ‘I think one of the problems is when everybody takes responsibility it’s almost like no-one’s responsibility.’ A co-ordinated and consistent approach will ensure efficient use of funds to avoid effort duplication.
The bottom-line is what is needed today is a concerted effort that fuses money to immediate provision (corrective) and long-term recovery (re-generation programmes). We also need to develop programmes to manage conditions such as emotional after shocks, posttraumatic stress disorder, loss of personal confidence and loss of community spirit. Clearly, disparate countries spread across a vast ocean will require managed and sustained aid campaigns if death and disease is to be minimised.

I have a personal fear that media attention of this disaster will diminish over the coming weeks. At a time when there is an unfortunate distinction between the rich and poor nations, we should collectively keep-up the initiative and motivation to give. By the UK government committing £100M this could be translated into approximately £2 per person – as a suggestion, lets allocate the lottery tax (12% of lottery revenue), lottery funds together with an Inland Revenue tax allocation into a worldwide development fund.

To date worldwide $ ½ Billion has been raised, yet it is suggested that this amount needs to double to help the victims. In addition to this money is the need for physical support and effective leadership – channelling and assuring both corrective and preventative strategies. The United Nations have a part to play but effective approaches are needed – ones that require fast-track processes, operational expertise that is not too process dependant for today’s immediate priorities. In other words, business adjectives such as flexibility and agility need to be applied. There is always room for setting-up operational procedures later for long term (immediately after the instant needs are fulfilled) recovery programmes. More corporations need to become involved.

Leadership through a new regeneration committee could be one approach to co-ordinate and manage local schemes. As I have suggested before, we need to move on from the twin city/town concept that many councils have adopted. Rich countries can implement development / regeneration initiatives for poor countries on a local adoption basis – once immediate needs are managed and settled. A worldwide harmonisation/regeneration committee can bring together both commercial and charity expertise to mount a sustained global change for the better.

Categories: 2005

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