Written shortly after the Southeast Asia tsunami, Alex's Beyond Relief quickly became the standard articulation of a bright green approach to disasters. Not only did it spur much conversation on the site, references to the ideas it presented quickly appeared all over the web.
A primary goal of the first couple year's of relief and reconstruction work should be to help arm these communities with the expertise, technology and capital to "leapfrog" over older, out-moded, costly and centralized technologies and start right in on building lives of sustainable prosperity.
This process should start the moment boots hit the ground. Relief is not simply about saving lives (though that is of course the top priority) -- relief is also the first step in the reconstruction. In the next months, vast efforts will go into building roads, air strips, water and power systems, emergency clinics and other infrastructure to support relief efforts. With that in mind, big international NGOs ought to be thinking, whenever possible, about the long-term utility of that infrastructure to the local communities. Can these huge investments be structured in ways that not only save lives today, but improve the community tomorrow.
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