quote: America's government and people brought charity to a new level last year in their response to Hurricane Katrina. The rebuilding has been particularly difficult, however, because it has involved lives as well as bricks and mortar. Many victims had been desperately poor all their lives. Helping them to self-sufficiency has proved just as difficult, if not harder, than putting homes and businesses back up again.
Having many very poor citizens, and more than its share of natural disasters, Bangladesh--my own country--has a great deal of experience facing both these challenges. We have a per capita gross national income of $440, with half the population living below the poverty line. We've little to start with, and much of that is repeatedly snatched away. In 1998, floods covered much of the country for over two months, affecting 30 million people; and a single cyclone killed 300,000 in 1970. Despite these catastrophes, more of our people are climbing out of poverty.
So at the risk of sounding presumptuous: What can the U.S. learn from Bangladesh about post-disaster economic recovery? Like many other countries, even Bangladeshis were quick with a handout after Katrina, giving the U.S. $1 million for the victims. But Americans might be surprised to learn that one of our most successful tools for rebuilding businesses is not government handouts, but rather, small loans packaged with practical business and social advice.
quote: Microlending has already helped millions reach a better life through their own initiative. It has also given them valuable skills as well as crucial financial back-up in case they ever face a natural disaster like Katrina. So it might be time to think about another type of support for Katrina's victims: the microloan. As our small, flood-battered country has learned, giving someone a hand up doesn't always require a handout. The most important thing is to help people get back to work while letting them hold on to their self-respect. Microloans can do just that.
-------------------- Nico Sasha In between my father's fields;And the citadels of the rule; Lies a no-man's land which I must cross; To find my stolen jewel. Posts: 4912 | From: VA | Registered: Jul 2003
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The thing about microfinance is when its Americans its not really micro anymore. Giving people $1000 loans isn't going to help them accomplish anything, and they'll get more than that as handouts. When you get into the amounts that people actually need to rebuild, multiplied by the number of people affected, then its getting into serious money.
ETA: Of course, thats still a lot less than we wasted on Iraq. But we should probably balance the budget first before we start handing out that kind of money.
Posts: 2018 | From: Santa Barbara, California | Registered: Aug 2005
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