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Better disaster response urged

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While aid poured into areas devastated by last year’s tsunami in East Asia, many families and workers felt help either arrived too late or was inadequate, a new report says.

Conducted by the Fritz Institute in San Francisco, “Lessons from the Tsunami: Top Line Findings,” presents results of a survey of 1,406 people from 197 village and 376 nonprofits in India and Sri Lanka.

Six in 10 respondents said aid in the first two months following the disaster was adequate and timely, the report says, but many say the aid provided was either culturally insensitive or demeaning.

Nine in 10 Indian people surveyed said clothing aid was timely, eight in 10 said food aid was timely and three in four said medical care was timely, but more than four in ten respondents said much of that aid was delivered without respect for their dignity.

In some cases, donated clothing did not match the climate or was culturally inappropriate, and some aid recipients reported that food was delivered without means for cooking it, the report says.

In both countries, about six in 10 groups surveyed said they lacked adequate warehouses to store aid, while about four in 10 didn’t have means to transport goods to affected regions.

In India, more than eight in 10 nonprofits surveyed said the government was helpful in coordinating relief efforts, the report says.

In Sri Lanka, however, fewer than half the nonprofits surveyed said the government was helpful, with most listing the military and medical and religious groups as providing most relief.

To prepare for future disasters, the Fritz Institute recommends increasing local capacity and preparedness, and consulting affected people prior to deciding what type of aid is needed so appropriate types of relief can be delivered.

In addition, governments must play a greater role in coordinating aid providers, and “back-room” capabilities such as medical services, transportation and warehousing must be strengthened.

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