After the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which displaced 1 million people and came as the U.S. economy continued to crumble, the American Red Cross joined with U.S. cell phone carriers to give Americans the ability to donate a few dollars by sending a simple text message. The campaign raised $32 million within days, generating as much as $200,000 per hour, a relatively small piece of the $2.5 billion that relief groups would raise for Haiti by late March. Some aid groups warned that they were so awash in cash they were incapable of distributing it all.
In August 2010, a similar text message campaign was launched in response to the flooding in Pakistan, which has so far displaced 5 million people and put 13 million, particularly children, at risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera because they lack access to clean drinking water. The United Nations has declared the flooding, which is expected to worsen, already worse than the Haiti earthquake, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake combined. But the Red Cross's recent text message effort yielded only $10,000, about 0.03 percent of what it earned for Haiti.
The disappointing campaign has been another in a series of alarming reports from aid groups and even the United Nations that they do not have enough money. The UN says it only has half of the $460 million it requires for its relief mission, with Care International, one of the aid groups leading the effort in Pakistan, reporting 15 percent of its already modest $10 million goal. The amount of foreign donations given per flood victim is very low compared to other such disasters. The figures for the Haiti earthquake, tsunami, and Kashmir earthquake were $1087.33, $1249.80, and $388.33 respectively. For the Pakistan floods, the world has given only $16.36 per victim. These shortfalls have led many to ask a macabre question. Why did the world, particularly U.S. individual donors, give so much for Haiti but show so little concern for Pakistan?