Overcoming donor fatigue

On the Today Programme the other day Bill Clinton suggested, even before the magnitude of the Asian disaster became clear, that the big donor Nations should divide up the affected region and concentrate on assisting specific countries. This sounds like a good idea to me but what if we took the idea further and explicitly twinned affected countries with countries in the donor community. Twins could be selected on the basis of wealth and need: The US and Indonesia, Britain and Sri Lanka…

Twinning could go deeper, too. Individual regions, towns and communities could opt to twin directly. Everybody understands twinning (most British towns are already twinned with one or more others) and it might help to overcome the ‘donor fatigue’ that will surely impede the epic reconstruction that will be needed over the long term. Communities permanently connected would develop bonds of understanding. Identification is much easier when you know those you are helping and when you can understand their lives and problems.

Twinning could be very easy to organise (it would need to be – nobody is going to have time to set up committees in the blitzed coastal communities themselves) and might simply be a matter of selecting an appropriate (similarly sized, for instance) town from a web site. Developing real bonds and providing useful help would be up to the participants themselves but some central services could be provided – communications, group buying, help & support, funds handling, for instance. This is clearly not an exercise for the short term while there is so much to do but by keeping donors engaged with the affected communities for longer, it could be a powerful aid to longer term reconstruction. What do you think?


  1. Well, Clare Short was on the radio saying that this divide it up approach was just a way for the US to sideline the UN.
    Which of course it might be. Then again, she would say that, wouldn’t she.
    Hope all is well.

  2. Our Post-Tsunami World

    With more than 115,000 dead, many thousands still missing, millions facing disease and starvation, entire regions in ruins, and several large and important economies teetering – can there be any doubt we’ve witnessed the catastrophic event of a generat…

  3. Excellent idea – we are busy in North Norfolk trying to set up up just such a link. If you know of workable mechanisms for doing so please let me knpow.

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