Double-Edged

One month after the Asian tsunamis, donor countries are making history by quickly following through on their promises of aid. The question remains how the billions of dollars can be used in the long-term to reconstruct shattered lives. One month after the Asian tsunamis, donor countries are making history by quickly following through on their promises of aid. The question remains how the billions of dollars can be used in the long-term to reconstruct shattered lives. The unprecedented international scale of the natural disaster — more than 280,000 people presumed dead from more than 50 countries — has brought an unprecedented response, with nearly 5.4 billion dollars in pledges as of Monday, according to the UN relief office.

As experience from past crises shows, it is easier to promise aid than to deliver it. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on January 6 appealed for 977 million dollars to come in as soon as possible to meet the immediate needs of survivors.

Donors have paid heed, with 759 million dollars toward Annan’s appeal taken care of as of Saturday, according to UN relief chief Jan Egeland.

But with tsunami-hit countries like Indonesia far from being the world’s most destitute, some in the business of asking fo