29 oktober 2005
Corporate world hardly responds to Pakistan earthquake
Jaap 't Gilde, Pakistan action coordinator of the Consortium of Relief Organisations (Samenwerkende Hulp Organisaties), reports only incidental gifts like tents or food, but, he says: "Such gifts are not always practical. In the first place they require transport, which is scarce. And in the second place food donations are not always compatible with local food habits. We try to procure as much as we can in the region itself. Pakistan itself is very good in making tents. Unfortunately there are not many in stock at the moment, because many of them were shipped to the victims of the tsunami."
Businesses have been helpful with the television campaign of this week to raise money for the victims of the earthquake. For example Rabobank did not charge for the transaction costs of internet donations. An airline company offered transport capacity to the region. A Dutch manufacturer of tents offered its help to Doctors without Borders (Artsen zonder Grenzen). And ReCell, a company that recycles cellphones, has started a campaign to donate discarded phones for Pakistan.
But these initiatives amount to nothing of the sort of what happened after tsunami. Asked for the underlying reasons, Jaap 't Gilde thinks it has to do with the fact that "the culture and tradition of Pakistan are much further removed from ours, which makes it a distant region. The countries hit by tsunami were holiday destinations. The tsunami was also brought to life for us through the footage made by tourists. The disaster was vividly brought back home. And, it might sound a bit cynical, but the time of the tsunami disaster, Boxing Day, was also a big advantage for fund raising. People really felt the wish to 'do good'."
A corporate tsunami-response that was very much welcomed at the time, came from Capgemini. This provider of business services offered to design a script for relief organisations in order to accelerate aid in disaster operations. When P+ inquired about the progress of the new electronic system, it appeared that the initiative never materialized. Wolfgang Keller, manager fundraising of the Netherlands Red Cross: "Not all aid organisations in the Consortium, that combine their forces in case of disasters, wanted to apply the same system. Well, that made Capgemini change its mind."
So if companies have goods or services to offer, who should they turn to? Jaap 't Gilde: "They can come to the Consortium, but then they are directed to one of the ten aid organisations."
P+ Webtip: Giro 800800