Disaster aid or prevention planning, a cost-benefit analysis for corporations

Major corporate donors run the numbers on the symptoms of disaster

At least two Haiti concrete mixers (Concrete MD’s) are working to rebuild Haiti with the Red Cross.

Haiti needs new infrastructureWhile the concrete mixers were mixing materials in Haiti the Red Cross fundraising team spent last week mixing with the biggest corporate donors in the world. Then after the formal presentations, the corporate leaders opened a discussion to weigh the value of investing in infrastructure. One commented that, “what appears to be lacking is investment in infrastructure and I don’t quite know where the Red Cross stands on investment in infrastructure.”

These business leaders are doing some cost-benefit studies to find the value differences between disaster aid and prevention. They are exploring ways that the money invested could result in more sustainable results. They wonder how to tackle the symptoms of a disaster and are troubled by the aid-dependency that sometimes follows their philanthropy.

Adding to their concerns is that donors are beginning the question the results of their generosity when there are chronic locations in the world that need aid at every turn. Exploring the value of disaster aid as compared to prevention efforts could create long-term savings, particularly when buildings don’t crumble down. Would a million dollars of prevention save 2-million in temporary aid and future reconstruction costs?

Haiti’s 2010 earthquake demonstrates the importance of discussing these questions. Would an improved quality of concrete in Port-au-Prince save more lives and save aid costs? Would better training and government oversight in construction processes reduce the rubble piles and the subsequent clean-up investments?

One important investment on the prevention side of the equation should be the development of a strong concrete supply chain in these least developed countries. Quality concrete infrastructure will prevent the crushing devastation that is all-to-familiar when we come to the aid of the desperately poor. The investments in fixing and supporting this supply chain will result in millions of jobs and greater economic security for the people we are helping.

The fact that the Red Cross has invested in Haiti’s concrete production capabilities is a good sign that prevention is a beneficial investment in supporting aid efforts.


About cementtrust

I am a director with Cement Trust and passionate about improving cement-based production in the poorest nations of the world.
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