Discusses role of private philanthropy with corporate leaders, policymakers, scholars,journalists and
nonprofit relief agencies in responding to the Tsunami disaster

The Aspen Institute headquarters in Washington D.C. convened a roundtable discussion on February 1, 2005 in Washington D.C. on the important role of private philanthropy and non-profit relief agencies in responding to the Tsunami disaster. The event was co-sponsored by the Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy program and the Global Interdependence Initiative of the Aspen Institute.

President and CEO of the American Red Cross Marsha Evans, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Humanitarian Relief Coordinator for the United Nations Jan Egeland, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the United Nations Foundation Kathy Bushkin, President and CEO of The Aspen Institute Walter Isaacson, Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe and, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for World Vision U.S. Serge Duss, were the featured speakers at the event.

Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe speaking at the forum underlined the effective collaborative role played by the NGOs in the relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the recent Tsunami. Bringing together the NGO experience, technical skills and resources added tremendous value to the Tsunami response which was a complex one given the magnitude of the disaster.

Highlighting that the tremendous outpouring of US private support for tsunami relief to humanitarian agencies was now estimated at over US $800 million, Ambassador Subasinghe mentioned that effective coordination between Government, donor agencies and non-profits was essential in the reconstruction phase to avoid duplication of efforts and to maximize efficiency. He underscored the importance of coordination between non-profits and, developing mechanisms to effectively utilize contributions from private donors.

The Ambassador proposed that NGO interventions in the next phase aim at reviving markets and livelihoods through activities such as cash-for-work programs to create a demand for goods and services. Underlining the critical need to help affected families rehabilitate their lives, Ambassador Subasinghe further proposed that NGOs should also aim at re-starting social services at the local level that include schools, primary health care clinics, water treatment facilities etc.

In his concluding remarks, the Ambassador urged individuals, corporations, foundations and philanthropies to stay engaged in the long-term recovery effort which will cost Sri Lanka U.S.$ 1.8 billion to rebuild damaged infrastructure and replace destroyed assets. He also asked the newer NGOs who participated in the Tsunami relief effort for the first time, to be especially attentive to local sensibilities and sensitivities in carrying out their particular missions given the complex socio-cultural complexion of affected societies.

Among those present were some 30 other non-profit and corporate leaders, policy makers, scholars and journalists who also participated in the discussions.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

01 February 2005


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