The Indian Ocean Tsunami was a global disaster for a globalized world.
The world responded generously as never before, sparking the largest, fastest, and most multilateral outpouring of disaster aid in history. Approximately $13.4 billion was donated worldwide in private and public funds. US private giving of $3.1 billion – one-third of which was donated online – eclipsed September 11 ($2.8 billion) and compares respectably to the total for Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew the following year ($5.2 billion).
The tsunami was also an extraordinary moment for the organization I co-founded, Give2Asia. While our $4 million recovery operation was much smaller than a group like Save the Children’s ($272M), it was as intense and hopeful. We were well positioned as a channel for aid. Our program team immediately activated in-country relationships and local offices thanks to our sister organization, The Asia Foundation. As CEO, I had relationships with many of those who turned to Give2Asia as the vehicle for their hope.
Hundreds of contributors large and small donated to The Tsunami Recovery Fund. Staff overseas, with oversight from the Board and headquarters staff, helped make 57 grants in Aceh, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, guided by these principles:
- a reliance on local partners and often known, strong organizations
- careful support for local priorities and advocacy in reconstruction
- a focus on marginalized groups likely to be neglected by aid, and on livelihood projects; and
- the use of the bounty of aid to “build back better.”