Targetting aid

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Soutik Biswas of the BBC reports on the informal earthquake relief effort in India:

As is the case with most Indian relief operations, there are a lot of hit-and-run gigs where 'volunteers' throw old clothes, food and plastic to screaming hungry and shivering throngs and depart. It is a very Darwinian way of relief distribution - the old, sick and women practically get nothing.

Surely an analogy for many attempts at aid and charity; there will always be a struggle to make sure that it goes to those who need it most, when they are also the least able to make their voices heard. One reason why transaction costs will be a necessary evil - perhaps even in situations as urgent as this one.

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