Wednesday, January 26, 2005

[Global Poverty] Tsunami - injustice only begets more injustice

Excerpt taken from Who Was Behind the Tsunami Catastrophe -- God or Humanity?
by Dr. Mohamed Elmasry
But what about the longer-term failure of people in the area to prepare for and reduce the impact of such disasters on human life and property? Among those countries directly affected by the December 26 disaster India, with its high-tech industry sector and huge infrastructure, is considered the most developed. It also spends billions annually on its nuclear capability and advanced weaponry.

Along the Indian coasts, tsunamis repeatedly claim the lives of thousands of people, especially in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh. Then why has the Indian government, with all the resources at its disposal, not moved to develop Early Warning Systems to help save the lives of the poor in these densely populated fishing communities?

Even more desperate is the plight of poor coastal villagers in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Africa, whose countries lack the resources to provide the infrastructural means to prevent another calamity on the scale of this one.

In reality, the decision to fund projects such as tsunami and earthquake EWSs is controlled by the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). They control most of the available funds, and any policymaking expenditures. Of the two bodies, the World Bank has the most potential funding to support the installation of EWSs but is not interested. Its mandate is apparently to fit the agendas of affluent developed countries; it is looking for a quick buck, not better ways of saving human lives.

The UNDP's main task is to support small business infrastructures in developing countries, along with teaching the necessary skills to develop trained workers for employers. The UNDP is not interested in saving lives, but in making poor people skillful enough to be used as cheap outsourcing labour whenever the rich and powerful countries need them.

So if anyone imagines that the death toll over the last several weeks was inevitable, they are sorely mistaken.

The attitude of the world's people has been that there are more important things to spend money on -- like making more money so the rich can get richer -- or, worse still, making sophisticated weaponry to kill the poor and the weak. It is a vicious circle and it is upto us -- either we choose to suffer one way or another or choose to change for the good of ALL of mankind.