As donation pours in for China's quake victims, many of us continue to donate, acting more out of easing our own grievance than how the fund will be used.
As China's economy grows, the government, with the donations, should have enough fund for the repairing the damage. Some cannot help but wondering how the fund should be used.
However, one question that has been raised (by CCTV as well) is what is called Tofu Engineering. i.e. the relatively new school buildings that collapsed while older buildings stand. No doubt some buildings are less well built, statistically. But it is also true that school buildings are usually done with the minimum budget. School casulies are also magnified because classrooms are usually much more crowded than home, or office buildings.
What we need now is looking forward, i.e. think about how to prevent these tragedies ahead of time. The technology is here and it is not expensive. It is easy and cheap to test the strength and stress tolerance of walls and pillars. It is also straightforward to determine gaps in structure. Strengthening a building may require only adding a few more pillars instead of a full rebuild.
Therefore, I would suggest we set up a special purpose fund for such preventative work. to begin let's focus it in school buildings (because the historic risk exposure is the highest). Let's perhaps call it Project Hope 2.0.
The fund will be used to
1) Identify structural faults in buildings in quake belts (let's start with schools, but it does not have to limit to schools)
2) To fund the structure strengthening, repair, or rebuild of these buildings when the test results show such need
With "Web 2.0", our donor could perhaps be able to trace down how his/her fund is used. i.e. testing structure for which building where or repair/reinforcement of which building, plus a picture of what has been accomplished. I am sure many of us, even those who do not trust charity bureacracy should be comfortable with such structure of the fund.
I wish there is such a fund for other developing countries as well, such as Pakistan. Perhaps the Bill and Merlinda Fund should consider this.
p.s. This post is prompted by a video interview by CNN (Yes, CNN has very good reporting -- most of the times.) on a Pakistani scientist tonight. The scientist did many study after the deadly Pakistani quake a few years ago, where many students were victims. Many of these disasters could have been avoided, if there is enough fund to identify and strengthen the structures of these buildings.
The CNN report also found that this is no coincidence for developing countries, as education is underfunded and schools are much more crowded than offices ot homes.
"Earthquake-resistant buildings there cost about 4 percent more to design and build than other structures" CNN reported in another interview. (there is a living proof in Sichuan: a Project Hope School, supposedly on low budget, was strong enough to withstand the quake in Beichuan County)
Update (I am replying to comments below from here, since it seems very hard to make comments on blogspot behind the GFW, while blogger.com is not blocked)
(1) Kiva models showed us that we can actually do one-to-one corrspondence between donors and receiver these. For the Kiva model see this Fortune report.
(2) re:HoKafka, please go ahead and set it up. I will try to fill in the skeletons when I got time. (I suppose "create" is faster as it requires no approval? -- I couldn't open the other link
I suppose there is discussion page at the wiki project where we can discuss and edit the project page? we can brainstorm over there?