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“It should never happen again that used winter garments, outdated medicines and broken toys and other debris from donor countries be distributed to affected families as part of a ‘job-well-done’. ”
Many aid agencies now recognise their folly of neglecting to get input from the local communities – unwittingly provoking caste resentments in India, for example – but most were reluctant even to consult each other. In Banda Aceh, closest to the epicentre of the 9.3 magnitude underwater quake off Sumatra (see pdf map), recovery efforts were hindered by the complete collapse of roads and bridges. Yet thirteen foreign NGOs demanded that only certified timber, guaranteed not to have been chopped from endangered forests, be used for new construction. Since none was available in the entire province, this meant extra expense and delay in waiting for imported boards to arrive from Kalimantan, at an extra cost of $4 million.
Concrete containers of nuclear and hospital waste from Italy, dumped on the seabed off Somalia for a bargain price by cowboy waste-disposal firms, cracked open when they were dislodged and hurled ashore by the enormous waves. Weeks later, radiation poisoning and virulent infections were reported to aid workers on Somalia’s northeast coast.
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