Helping Japan in the Best Way Possible

Helping Japan in the Best Way Possible

Just over a year ago, in the aftermath of the worst natural disaster ever to befall Haiti, I wrote about the generous and inspirational commitments that individuals, organizations and corporations were making in response. I also wrote about the very best way to helpin times of disaster, based on lessons long learned by government, NGOs and others in the disaster response and relief community.

Now, in the aftermath of the worst natural disaster ever to befall Japan, I feel compelled to revisit some of those same themes and learnings. It’s unfortunate that just a year later, we are faced once more with a seemingly unprecedented crisis and the prospect of a long, hard recovery and rebuilding process. If there is any glimmer of a bright spot here for humanity, it is that when times are their worst, people and companies are often at their best. And, with each disaster, we have the benefit of knowing what worked – or didn’t – in previous instances.

According to the latest data collected by the Business Civic Leadership Center, response by the corporate sector has been incredibly strong – more than $200 million dollars in aid committed in just over 10 days. If giving continues at this pace, it is on track to surpass business support for disaster relief efforts following the January, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Individual giving to major relief agencies is also picking up, totaling more than $64 million just one week after the disaster. And that’s a very good thing, because the cost, by any measure, is going to be severe, even for as advanced and industrialized a nation as Japan. Experts now estimate the cost could reach $309 billion, making it the world’scostliest natural disaster ever.

Most telling for me about the true need and real plight of those affected was the appealI received from ChildFund International, an organization that I support. On an ordinary day, it noted, ChildFund Japan raises funds for the programs it implements in developing countries around the world… but today is no ordinary day. For the first time in its history, ChildFund Japan launched an emergency response effort for its own country.

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Chad Tragakis, Senior Vice President, Hill & Knowlton, Washington. Author at the blog ResponsAbility