People are much more likely to give money to help victims of natural disasters than to help people who have been victims of human made disasters. This is according to the latest research by Dr Hanna Zagefka. She draws on a comparison between the £300 million donated to 2004 Tsunami victims and the mere £30 million devoted to the victims of the Dafur tragedy going on at the same time.
Of course withe the above two examples you could just argue that the difference in donations is due to the different levels of media coverage – which was much greater with the Tsnami (I guess the story is less complex after all) – but Zagefka claims to have controlled for this for inventing ‘hypothetical cases’ as part of her research study. I don’t quite believe that the general public are 10 times more likely to give to natural disaster relief rather than human disaster relief – but they are somewhat more likely (by how many times she doesn’t say on the programme?),
I’m left wondering whether it’s more intelligent people that give money to human disaster relief funds… if you give money you will probably start asking questions about ‘what, exactly caused this in the first place’??? And that hurts the brain a lot more than.. ‘Big wave smashed someone’s home.. give money… man will go build new home.. smile!
Or it could, of course, be just a rational response – with a natural disaster – I guess you can be more certain that your money will be spent on sorting out the aftermath – with human created, political trajedies, these are just much messier – there is less guarantee that money will spent effectively on sorting these out – and then there’s the issue of whether ‘we’ should be wading in at all of course…
I also did a bit of stats digging – comparing natural disaster deaths to ‘direct deaths from conflicts – which is just one type of ‘human/ politcal cause of death’
Over the decade from 2000 to the end of 2009, the yearly average was 78,000, according to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). For the 1990s, the average was 43,000, and the 1980s was 75,000.
52,000 direct conflict deaths occurred each year between 2004 and 2007. Altogether at least 208,300 people died directly as a result of armed conflict. Between 2005 and 2007 the total number of direct conflict deaths increased to an estimated 63,900 per annum as compared to lower annual tolls in 2004 and 2005. This increase is due primarily to armed violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Somalia.
So the numbers are broadly similar – and if anything the ‘humans causing death’ category is grossly underrepresented – So should we spent more money relieving ‘human disasters’? Perhaps instead we should spend more on preventing human disasters, or maybe in the case of war, make it less easy for TNCs to actually profit from human tragedy through selling aramaments…… ?