Quake Relief Strains Yet Motivates NGOs

From Caijing Magazine:

China’s struggle to rebound from a May 12 earthquake has turned into a major test of mettle for charities, environmental groups and other non-governmental organizations that plunged into the recovery effort.

Some NGO officials wonder whether they plunged too soon. Yet others see opportunities from lessons learned and a chance to confront institutional limits to NGO activity.

Despite good intentions and plenty of enthusiasm, many NGOs faced unexpected obstacles after reaching the disaster scene. They had to contend with their own inexperience in dealing with emergency situations, poor interagency coordination, and weak relations with government agencies.

Read also a related story from YaleGlobal:

The Communist Party is China’s sole party in power, and its tenets require it to simultaneously lead and serve the Chinese people. When a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck in May, citizens could not wait for the government’s lead. Instead, the media reported events openly, non-government organizations mobilized and citizens worked online and off, raising funds, collecting supplies and joining rescue and relief efforts. “The challenge for the Chinese government is whether it has the will to institutionalize the moral energy and social capital generated in the past few weeks – and whether it has the will to institutionalize citizen participation and media openness,” writes Guobin Yang, author and professor, whose reflection coincides with the 19th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square crackdown when China’s civil society faced one of its darkest hours. The government tolerance of the latest unprecedented and spontaneous response of Chinese citizens may be temporary or may prove to be the start of lasting empowerment. Yang notes that much depends on what new steps citizens take in the days ahead. – YaleGlobal

June 4, 2008 1:46 AM
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Categories: Society