In some ways, the flood in Pakistan can be measured as a greater disaster than the Haiti earthquake and South Asian tsunami combined, but Canadians are offering a pittance of relief compared to those and other disasters.
This is the finding of an Angus Reid poll released Tuesday, which found only four per cent of Canadians have donated to relief efforts in Pakistan compared to nearly 40 per cent in Haiti.
Roughly 20 million people in Pakistan have been affected by the flooding in June that’s left one fifth of the country under water.
That means more people have been left sick, injured, homeless and unemployed than the combined total of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 2005 Kashmir earthquake and Haiti earthquake in January.
Nathan Huculak, with the Canadian Red Cross, Western Canada, said it’s difficult to surmise exactly what motivates people to donate, but the nature of the disaster – rather than its aftermath – could be a determinant.
“The flood was a slow onset disaster and the impacts have been slower to reveal themselves,” he said. “(Earthquakes) have a dramatic and immediate result.
“Canadians have been incredibly generous in support of Red Cross relief efforts in the past, particularly in the 2005 Pakistani earthquake, so location doesn’t bear out as the main factor.”
Huculak said time of year and fatality rates could also have an influence on how an event is reported and the public’s perception of the need for aid.
During summer, he said, Canadians may be paying less attention to news. Equally, when a disaster has a high death toll – like Haiti – it may inspire more donations than a low death toll – like Pakistan’s flood.
The Angus Reid survey found there is a perception that the money will not be put to good use. More than 10 per cent of survey respondents said they didn’t think any of the relief money will be used to help Pakistanis in need.
This is compared to 38 per cent in the case of Haitian donations.
“The differences in the reaction to both tragedies are staggering,” the report said. “Lack of information and the absence of a televised telethon might be some of the reasons for the dissimilar reaction from Canadians.
“The humanitarian needs (in Pakistan) are great and they will continue for months if not years after the waters subside,” Huculak said. “Donating is the best way to help.”
By the numbers
2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
Death toll: 228,000
Survivors left homeless: more than 500,000
Worldwide donations: more than $7.5 billion
Canadian donations: $365 million
2005 Kashmir earthquake:
Death toll: 74,700
Worldwide donations: more than $5 billion
2010 Haiti earthquake:
Death toll: 92,000 – 230,000
Survivors left homeless: one million
Canadian donations: more than $135 million, more per capita than any other country
2010 Pakistan flood
Death toll: as many as 20,000
Survivors left homeless: four million
Canadian donations: roughly $35 million
To donate to Red Cross relief efforts in Pakistan, visit redcross.ca. Other ways to donate include:
- By phone toll-free at 1-800-418-1111
- In person at any Red Cross office
- By cheque or money order to Canadian Red Cross, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2. Earmark your donation “Pakistan Floods.”
- Donate $5 by texting REDCROSS to 30333. A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your cellphone bill.