Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dateline Davos: January 28, 2010

Attending the 2010 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting is a whirl, and you stay on the move. My first session was on social networking where CEOs and top executives from most major sites – LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter – were answering questions from eager participants on censorship, the value of transparency, and whether literacy, education, and teaching are threatened by social marketing sites. I then hurried to a panel on chronic diseases, where experts worried about the new pandemic of “Globesity,” and an African Minister of Health warned that cancer was now killing more of his countrymen than AIDS, TB and malaria combined. Senior fellow, Jeremiah Norris, and I have been urging the global health community for over twenty years to do more about chronic diseases because they are the largest killers and cancers, cardiovascular disease, strokes and diabetes are a tremendous burden on worker productivity and national healthcare expenditures. It was good to see some serious attention being paid to the no longer “silent” epidemic of chronic diseases.

Topics and events here in Davos range from climate change to energy, nuclear threats, philanthropy, Shakespeare, foreign aid and trade, economic growth, the Great Recession, the economics of happiness, to James Cameron talking about his latest work, Avatar, and Lang Lang, renowned Chinese pianist, playing for us all in the packed Congress Hall.

I participated in a great session on “Rethinking Philanthropy,” with Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, Martin Fisher, head of Kickstart, Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief of The Economist USA, Alvaro Rodriguez Arregui, Co-founder and managing partner of ICNIA Partners, and Justice Muhammed Taqi Usmani, Vice President, Darul-Uloom in Pakistan. The focus was on the challenges faced by philanthropy today and the innovations for future. Technology in philanthropy as well as in so many fields discussed here at the WEF sessions, reigns supreme. Former President Clinton, who spoke to us today, said he never realized the extent and importance of technology and how cell phones and text messaging have been essential to disaster management operations and fund raising. The Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances, has been featuring new technologies in philanthropy and remittances over the last four years, and it is exciting to see this field continue to grow and improve.

I was especially happy to finally meet Martin Fisher whose project, Kickstart, we featured in our very first Index. Martin’s manual irrigation machine, The Money Maker, is manufactured in Africa, and he now tells me that over 90,000 Africans have bought this low cost, efficient machine and increased their incomes. His plans are to stick with this winning model and scale up in even more African countries.

The WEF has formed a partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative and the UN to address both immediate and longer term needs in Haiti. Former President Clinton laid out the needs and plans for now and the future, citing the distribution system for just getting humanitarian goods to people is the most critical. He cited over 150,000 dead and 200,000 injured with hundreds of thousands still needing shelter, food and water. The focus of all these partners is on, as Clinton put it today, “Rebuilding the country they want to be, not what they were.” With analogies to Rwanda’s recent growth through its good governance, he was optimistic about the chances for Haiti. Whether Haiti can pull this off is of course the big question in a country that has failed miserably over the years. This will be an opportunity to take the lessons we have learned from past development aid mistakes and try to get it right in Haiti. The terrible tragedy of Haiti has brought the Obama Administration and the world’s development aid network a chance to make some lasting changes in a long suffering country.

Carol Adelman
Director & Senior Fellow
Center for Global Prosperity

Friday, January 15, 2010

Private Response to Haitian Earthquake Expected to be Significant

Today President Obama said “we need to summon the tremendous generosity and compassion of the American people” as he pledged $100M towards the relief effort.

Americans are responding swiftly and generously to needs in Haiti—even before the President’s encouragement.

Within five hours of the earthquake, World Vision had enabled their website giving vehicle. According to
The Chronicle of Philanthropy, charity software provider, Convio, expected to process more donations within a day of the earthquake than it had in their busiest day of 2009 which yielded $20M.

With deaths estimated between 30,000 and 100,000 and approximately 3 million people affected, cash is needed now in the first but fleeting search and rescue phase of the post-disaster response. The window for rescue will quickly come to a close and food, shelter and medicines will be needed before any reconstruction can begin. At the bottom of this blog is a list of different organizations to which you can donate.

While the President has been quoted as saying that this is "one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history", unfortunately Haiti’s disaster quickly follows Myanmar’s cyclone that killed 100,000 and the earthquake in China that claimed almost 90,000 lives.

It will be some time before the world knows the true extent of the damage in Haiti, but based on previous responses to natural disasters around the world, it is likely that the bi-lateral and multi-lateral pledges will be generous, but the private response will be even greater.

While it may have been the Chinese government’s intent to limit the amount of foreign aid received in the face of the earthquake, the U.S. government gave $3.1M as compared to the $90M of donations from American corporations. The government of Myanmar blocked as much outside help as possible following the cyclone, but Americans gave $30.1M to help the Burmese as compared to the official U.S. aid of $24M. Finally, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami claimed the lives of over 230,000. American citizens gave over $2B as compared to the official government assistance of $350M. It should be noted that these tallies do not include the military response which in the case of the tsunami could have been as high as $500M—a sum still dwarfed in value by the private sector response.

Technology is moving money faster and hopefully encouraging greater generosity through the ease of donating via text messaging and the internet. Questions remain about the potential profit that credit card companies stand to gain, with the exception of Capital One who waives all fees for all charity transactions. Citizens should be wary of schemes and take precautions to give to reputable organizations:
World Vision, Doctor’s Without Borders, Partners in Health, Global Giving to name a few.

Given the proximity of Haiti to the U.S., the size of the Haitian Diaspora in the U.S. and the fact that President Obama is keen to be distinguish himself differently from the perception of how his predecessor responded to Katrina, it is likely that this is just the beginning of a response that is sure to be sizeable and perhaps of unprecedented proportions.

Heidi Metcalf Little

Senior Fellow & Deputy Director
Center for Global Prosperity

How to Help in response to the Haitian Earthquake

Philanthropy Action: This blog gives advice to people interested in donating to Haiti who want to ensure their donations are effective.
Harvard Business Review: Blog by Timothy Ogden on how to Help in Haiti.
InterAction: Gives lists and summaries of organizations that are helping in the relief efforts in Haiti.

If you are interested in giving Now:

Catholic Relief Services
World Vision
Doctor’s Without Borders
Partners in Health

If you are interested in giving to Reconstruction:

Haiti Partners: Long established organization working in Haiti. They have created an earthquake response fund where donations will go to emergency and long term needs.
Global Giving: Has different partners in Haiti that you can choose which different organizations to give to.
American Jewish World Service: This organization supports community-based organizations in Haiti.
Yelehaiti: Funded by singer Wyclef Jean in 2005, they have organized an earthquake fund to respond to immediate needs and reconstructive needs of Haitians. The easiest way to donate to Yelehaiti is by texting YELE to 501501 which will donate $5.
Help Haiti Now: a registered non-profit established in 2005. They are based in Montrouis and are ok. Donations are going to support displaced Haitians north of Port Au Prince in Montrouis area.
Geneva Global: Has 5 community based partners in Haiti. Geneva Global is in the process of creating a fund that will allocate donations to their different partners in Haiti.