[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Hope in Hell
Feature Main Page
Photo Gallery
On Assignment
Learn More
Interactive Image
Sights & Sounds
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Learn More
In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

Content Jump Links:
 Did You Know?  
 Related Links  
 NGS Resources  

Did You Know?Did You Know?

Financing Relief
In the chaos, tragedy, and trauma that follow a major disaster, many people and governments are moved to give aid to the victims. Aid is split into two types, humanitarian and reconstruction. Humanitarian, or relief aid, covers immediate human needs: rescue, food, clothing, water, medicines, temporary shelter. Reconstruction aid is money and equipment for long-term projects and recovery, such as rebuilding roads, bridges, railways, and providing permanent housing. Relief money arrives quickly; reconstruction money is often delayed, or sometimes never arrives.
Donations from governments follow a particular process in response to a disaster. First, governments will announce a pledge verbally through a spokesperson. This is a general nonbinding vow of assistance, including both relief and reconstruction aid. It is a declaration of intent. Next is the commitment stage, in which a government signs a legally binding contract listing the actual amount of money that will be donated. Finally, governments filter their cash through to the scene of the disaster in three ways: giving the money to the UN, to NGOs working on the ground, or directly to the affected country's government. For some large disasters, such as 2004's tsunami, the World Bank acts as a collecting agency for various country's donations.
That all takes time. Therefore relief agencies like the World Food Programme have money and supplies that are ready to be released and distributed worldwide within hours of a disaster. When the relief money arrives later, it is used to refill these emergency stocks.
—David A. O'Connor


Related Links

National Geographic Special Edition: Katrina
Find an extensive list of links to relief organizations and charities.
World Disasters Report 2004
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' annual summary of humanitarian disasters and relief operations.
European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department
Read about the relief response lessons that the UN and the EU learned from the Indian Ocean tsunami.
Center on Philanthropy
This organization tracked donations from the United States to the tsunami relief effort.
The United Nations

The UN Secretary-General's report on strengthening emergency relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, recovery, and prevention in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.
U.S. Department of State website.
Congressional Human Rights Caucus briefing on peace for northern Uganda.
World Food Programme
Learn about United Nations food relief programs throughout the world.
Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) and CARE www.effectivepeacekeeping.org/docs/ngo/ANSO-CARE-8May.pdf
Read about aid worker insecurity in Afghanistan.
U.S. Agency for International Development
This United States agency is responsible for international relief efforts.
United Nations Reliefweb
The latest news on humanitarian relief around the world.
United Nations Financial Tracking Service
The UN agency responsible for tracking humanitarian aid. Click on reports about the amount of money pledged and given to various humanitarian disasters. Adobe Reader is required to view this report.



Girardet, Edward, and Jonathan Walter, eds. Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan, 3rd ed. Crosslines Publishing, 2005.

Raffaele, Paul. "Uganda: The Horror." Smithsonian Magazine (February 2005).
De Temmerman, Els. Aboke Girls: Children Abducted in Northern Uganda. Fountain Publication Ltd., 2001.
Prendergast, John. "Resolving the Three Headed War from Hell in Southern Sudan, Northern Uganda, and Darfur." Africa Program Occasional Paper Series No. 3. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (February 2005).
Navai, Ramita. "A Year After Quake, Iran City Struggles to Rise Above the Rubble." Christian Science Monitor, January 5, 2005.
Annan, Kofi A. "Billions of Promises to Keep." New York Times, April 13, 2005.
"Now Spend it Sensibly." Economist (January 7, 2005).
Lynch, Colm. "Cash Often Fails to Match Aid Pledges." Washington Post, January 14, 2005.
"The UN's Paul Revere; Jan Egeland Explains Why All Humanitarian Crises Are Not Created Equal in the Eyes of the Press." Columbia Journalism Review (July/August 2005), 20.
Egeland, Jan. "Sobering Lessons for the United Nations." Financial Times, March 30, 2005.
"Tsunami Relief." U.S. Agency for International Development, April 2005.
Buchanan, Cate. and Robert Muggah. "No Relief: Surveying the Effects of Gun Violence on Humanitarian and Development Personnel." Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, June 2005. Available online at
"The Tsunami's Psychological Aftermath." Science (August 12, 2005), 1030-33.


NGS Resources

Carroll, Chris. "In Hot Water." National Geographic (August 2005), 72-85.
Bourne, Joel K. Jr., "Gone With the Water." National Geographic (October 2004), 88-105.
Edwards, Mike. "In Focus: Central Africa's Cycle of Violence." National Geographic (June 1997), 124-33.
Smith, Mary G. "Retiring Into…a Hurricane." National Geographic (March 1996).

E-Mail this Page to a Friend