After fiddling around for a week or so assembling, then updating and updating again, lists summarizing some governments’ tsunami aid commitments (here and here), I moved on. I liked watching the relative surge in traffic and seeing visitors hit the site from all over the world, due in large part to the fact a Google search for “per capita tsunami aid” (and close permutations) returned this site at the very top of the list. But I didn’t see making the collection of aid statistics a full-time job.
Now the traffic surge is over. One reason is that per capita tsunami aid is cooling off as a topic (yes, those Norwegians and Australians shelled out a ton of cash. Boy, those Americans sure are reluctant to take the plunge). Another is that other sites have risen to the top of the list:
—Tsunami Aid is a post on another blog that approaches the relative aid that governments have committed from the standpoint of gross domestic product. It’s just another variable for quickly analyzing what governments are offering.
–A site called NationMaster, which apparently is in the business of mining the CIA World Factbook for data and presenting it in new and interesting ways, has put together a richly detailed section that includes not only government commitments, but also statistics on the amount donated to the cause by private sources in each country, how aid stacks up per capita and by GDP, and how many nationals of each donor country were killed or are missing. Each category is ranked (and, according to this list, as of today, the United States ranks second (after Germany) in the world in the total of public and private aid committed to date with $1.003 billion; but judged in terms of dollars of aid per capita and per dollar of GDP, the U.S. ranks 23rd and 27th, respectively).
–One resource that doesn’t show up on Google and appears only in fine print on NationMaster’s site is a Wikipedia compilation of government and private donations from around the world. What makes this list great is how well it’s sourced — you can see directly where the numbers are coming from, which is a big aid in assessing how reliable and current they are. The article also includes a detailed listing of just what aid has been offered in terms of cash, loans, services, and materiel; and it concludes with a list of contributions by U.S. corporations. Pretty impressive, and a great demonstration (I think) of Wikipedia’s power to build authoritative information through an open group effort.