Aid agencies warned against competition

Georgina Lock

Aid agencies need to stop competing for beneficiaries in disaster situations if they are to save more lives, concludes the Red Cross's World Disasters Report 2005.

Launched today, the report says the Asian tsunami, the west Africa food crisis and the US hurricanes have all posed "urgent questions" about what more can be done by NGOs, governments and the media to help save lives.

Adam Poulter, disaster preparedness adviser at the Red Cross, said the report "raised serious issues of co-ordination and the sharing of information, with some agencies competing over beneficiaries".

The report recommends joint assessments of needs, the appointment of information co-ordinators in the field and closer networking between NGOs, governments and local communities to ensure early warning systems are in place in future.

The role of the media is also analysed, comparing coverage of the tsunami, which killed 200,000 people, with coverage of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than three million people have died since 1998.

The report argues that the more complex issues get less attention and that aid agencies must offer statistics and embrace new technology.

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