Last year Christmas saw the Tsunami killing a quarter of a million people, this year Pakistan was hit by a major earthquake, and New Orleans was flooded after Katrina hit. All of these events saw a tremendous on-line response, aided by social software and other new internet tools. Skype ’round the clock call centers, the Tsunami wikietc.
The World Wide Help Group has dubbed this week Remembrance Week, to look back at the disasters that hit the world in 2005. But also to remember that a lot of help is still needed, a lot of work is still to be done. The effects of the Tsunami will be need much longer attention than only this year, Pakistani are still freezing to death in the Himalaya left without shelter after the quake. If you are in a position to support relieve organisations, or help in some other direct or indirect way, please do so.
Meanwhile the Dutch relief organisations on Dec. 26th 2005 published a newspaper in 3 million copies, distributed through all major super market chains. In it they explain how they spent the unprecedented 220 million euros the Dutch population of 16 million people brought together for Tsunami relief efforts. This in part after a number of reports in the press criticizing the way relief funds were distributed to some dubious projects. I was happy to read that funds were used to simultaneously give relief and lay down the foundation for new economic activity as well. For instance by not only providing new boats to fishermen, but have them built by small local shipyards. This way the boats are the ones fishermen are used to using, work and transactions are created in the local economy and fishermen can take up their activities again all in one. Economy after all is not about the material you use or its worth, it is primarily about the number of transactions created.