Is donating cash to disaster-stricken places better than giving goods?
This is a question that international experts have plumbed since the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. The relief efforts for that disaster had terrible lapses, which, they said, the relief effort teams for the Philippines should be very careful not to repeat. Along with other sound suggestions, they’ve noted that to optimize relief efforts, we should donate cash instead of goods.
Sometimes too many goods can hamper relief efforts. As the experts claim, they block runways and spaces and constrict movement. And since all goods donations have to be checked, sorted out, and packed before they are transported to the disaster-stricken areas, they also make relief efforts a more time-consuming exercise. Money, on the other hand, is smoother to handle logistically, and it may actually help revive the local economy. They contend that buying relief goods locally can make the money circulate locally benefiting homegrown businesses. Makes a lot of sense!
But is it really applicable to the Philippines?
Can it work in a country whose government and politicians are deemed too corrupt, they could fleece even the dead? A senate investigation into what may be the most corrupt of government scams in the Philippines is ongoing. The Philippine government reeks of so much corruption and it afflicts even the youth leaders (Remember the Sanggunian Kabataan). People don’t need all the studies and ratings from international organizations, they know that their SK chairman is corrupt, as are their Barangay Captain, their mayor, their governor. They see what these politicians do first hand.
The benefit of the doubt
But this is human tragedy in massive proportions, for sure even the most corrupt will take pity and have a change of heart? Maybe yes, but most probably not. These people get so excited even at the mere mention of “cash.” Nothing gets in the way of their greed. When we are talking about a country like the Philippines, donating goods is indeed the better option. These are the kind of opinions and comments that swarm the discussion pages now.
Cannot blame the Filipinos for all their doubt and wariness
The politicians’ track record of brazen corruption gives that to the Filipinos. So, yes, cash is indispensable too in times like these but most ordinary Filipinos prefer to donate goods. Even when they are prepared to think the most positive of thoughts, they always have this uncomfortable nagging doubt when they donate money.
This was originally written in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Not only a few distressing stories have come out about where some of the foreign donations have gone. Well… Anyway, for updates on the government’s rehabilitation efforts after the disaster, you might want to check this link here.