An aerial view of debris from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit northern Japan on March 11. Photo by: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alexander Tidd / U.S. Navy

In the aftermath of the massive March 11 earthquake that triggered a tsunami and damaged nuclear plants in Japan, a handful of aid organizations have been seeking donations for affected Japanese. Some critics, however, have balked at the idea of donating to one of the world’s richest nations. 

>> Ways to Donate to Japan, Pacific Relief Efforts

Humanitarian workers fear that Japan’s disaster would overshadow slow-onset disasters such as the political-related violence in Ivory Coast.

“It’s obvious that you want to help when you see the terrible scenes, but this is what causes the massive flows of money in a major sudden disaster much of which is unspent, but virtually nothing is given for a disaster like the floods in Pakistan last year,” Reuters’ Nita Bhalla quotes a disaster expert in New Delhi, India. “Yes, Japan has a crisis on its hands with half a million people displaced and shortages of food and water, but Pakistan had up to ten million who had lost their homes.”

Slow-onset disasters such as the fatal monsoon flooding in Pakistan do not generate the same “shock value” that induces people to contribute aid, a New York Times report published in November argued.

>> Why ‘Shock Value’ Determines Humanitarian Aid Giving

Aid workers, Bhalla reports, also warn that huge flows of humanitarian contributions could lead to waste of funding due to uncoordinated response from international aid groups. 

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About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.