Organization of Disaster Aid Delivery: Spending Your Donations

J. Vernon Henderson, Yong Suk Lee

NBER Working Paper No. 17707
Issued in December 2011
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

This paper analyzes how different organizational structures between funding and implementing agencies affect the quality of aid delivered and social agendas pursued across neighboring villages in a set disaster context. We model the implied objective functions and trade-offs concerning aid quality, aid quantity, and social agendas of different types of agencies. We analyze three waves of survey data on fishermen and fishing villages in Aceh, Indonesia from 2005-2009, following the tsunami. Different organizational structures result in significantly different qualities of hard aid, differential willingness to share aid delivery with other NGOs in a village, and differential promotion of public good objectives and maintenance of village religious and occupational traditions. This is the first time these aspects have been modeled and quantified in the literature. Some well known international NGOs delivered housing with relatively low rates of reported faults such as leaky roofs and cracked walls; others had relatively high rates. For boats, some had very high rates of boat "failure", boats that sank upon launch, were not seaworthy, or fell apart within a month or two. We also document how a social agenda of particular agencies to promote greater equality can be thwarted and distorted by village leaders, potentially increasing inequality.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17707

Published: J. Vernon Henderson & Yong Suk Lee, 2015. "Organization of Disaster Aid Delivery: Spending Your Donations," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(4), pages 617 - 664. citation courtesy of

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