New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity: Good Intentions on the Road to Help

New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity: Good Intentions on the Road to Help

New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity: Good Intentions on the Road to Help

New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity: Good Intentions on the Road to Help

Synopsis

Soaring poverty levels and 24-hour media coverage of global disasters have caused a surge in the number of international non-governmental organizations that address suffering on a massive scale. But how are these new global networks transforming the politics and power dynamics of humanitarian policy and practice? In New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity, Michael Mascarenhas considers that issue using water management projects in India and Rwanda as case studies. Mascarenhas analyzes the complex web of agreements --both formal and informal--that are made between businesses, governments, and aid organizations, as well as the contradictions that arise when capitalism meets humanitarianism.

Excerpt

On December 26, 2004, in the Northern Hemisphere we watched and witnessed the human devastation from a massive 9.s of Indonesia. the earthquake triggered a series of devastating tsunamis that inundated the coasts of fourteen countries along the rim of the Indian Ocean, killing nearly 230,000 people, injuring tens of thousands more, and displacing more than 10 million men, women, and children. the scale of the harm to life and damage to the local economy, infrastructure, and government was unprecedented. in the days that followed, the South Asian tsunami became a truly global affair. Bombarded with media reporting and seduced by YouTube videos, we watched live as millions of helpless people lost their homes, livelihoods, and, in many cases, their lives. These horrific images, combined with the seemingly arbitrariness of their fate, provoked an outpouring of empathy and generosity of global proportions. Governments, corporations, and individuals from around the world scrambled to offer aid, medicine, other vital supplies, and technical support to the helpless victims of this tragedy.

Airlines provided free travel for relief workers. the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo donated thousands of cases of bottled water. Drug makers and medical companies sent shipments of medical supplies and cash donations. Pfizer announced plans to donate $10 million to local and international relief organizations, including Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee, as well as about $25 million of its health-care products to the relief efforts. Bristol-Myers Squibb sent antibiotics and other supplies, in addition to a $100,000 donation through the American Red Cross. Abbott Laboratories’ charitable fund donated supplies, including nutritional supplements, valued at $2 million, as well as an additional $2 million in cash. Merck made a cash donation of $250,000. Johnson & Johnson contributed $2 million in cash and matched employee donations to the Red Cross. General Electric pledged $1 million to the Red Cross’s International Response Fund and $100,000 to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (Wall Street Journal News Roundup 2004). Similar donations poured in from other corporate sectors and governments from around the world, and, within six months, official aid and private donations raised over $13 billion for the victims of this natural disaster!

The emotional imagery of debris-laden coastlines, destroyed school buildings and decimated roads, tent camps and temporary shelters, and mass graves ensured . . .

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