By : Ashutosh Mohanty, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator & Researcher 
Super Cyclone Ė99 Project 
Under :N.C.A.R, E.S.I.G., U.S.A


We are all numbed by the toll of human misery from this disaster. It is estimated by the World Health Organization that three to five million people in the region lack basic necessities such as food, clean drinking water and shelter with the specter of disease-related illness spreading through typhoid, cholera, and dysentery because of contaminated water systems. Today the United States government annually spends less than 1 percent of its budget on foreign aid, mainly through USAID. Even the $350 million pledged by the United States government for this disaster relief accounts only for .003 percent of our gross national product. The oil rich kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which run billion dollar surpluses in their budgets, initially gave only $10 million each to the relief effort as compared to the $764 million relief package announced by Australia and Germanyís pledge of $674 million and Japanís pledge of $500 million. Government of India also providing huge amount of package foe all tsunami affected areas like 1000Crors (INR) relief operation and restoration programme and handling all operation solely without international assistance funding/Aid. 
We are seeing a confluence of assistance; a spirit of cooperation and giving that has not been seen since our own human tragedy of 9/11. Some charities like Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children are overwhelmed with financial support beyond their needs and capacity to deliver needed relief and are advising contributors to make contributions to other agencies and for broader causes. How NGOs handle this outpouring of money and support may well determine how the world supports this sector in the future. We are rapidly approaching the time that once the immediate humanitarian relief is provided we must look to the future. An international relief effort will be needed to coordinate the assistance for the rebuilding of devastated communities and families. In this rebuilding and planning process the lessons learned from our experience with other disasters will be helpful but only a beginning unlesswe thoroughly change the process for the delivery of disaster relief.

What must be done is to continue the cooperation and building of the capacity of indigenous NGO communities so that they can become active participants when disasters of this nature occur. The scale of this tsunami tragedy offers an opportunity for international and domestic NGOs to focus on a more integrated process of relief, rebuilding, and, most important of all, reducing the vulnerability of international communities to future dangers.

NGOs need to be more proactive in advocating preemptive strategies for the next tragedy. For example, primary factors contributing to the high death toll are poverty and poor living conditions. NGOs must advocate long-term economic development and infrastructure projects including better roads, building construction, and more hospitals and clinics. NGOs must participate in economic and government reforms in the poorer countries in exchange for the support of richer nations providing more aid and favorable trade and debt reduction policies toward the affected countries. The World Bank should insist that future funding include community participation in redevelopment efforts and transparency in government action. The Bush administrationís Millennium Challenge Account is another example of an attempt to fight global poverty by requiring recipient countries to meet tougher standards of good government and accountability. NGOs must remain in the forefront of advocating reform and democratic ideals under the rule of law. The world will be carefully watching to see what we have learned from this disaster.