Ciencia local para grandes desastres

La tierra produce un caudal seguro de desastres. Algunos, como el SIDA, son crónicos; otros, como los terremotos o el huracán Katrina, son manifestaciones repentinas de la fuerza de la naturaleza. En todos los casos, se espera que un esfuerzo de ayuda bien financiada llegue de alguna región rica. Pero importar asistencia no sólo puede ser menos efectivo; puede de hecho causar más daño en el largo plazo.

Cuando hay un tsunami, el primer impulso es traer expertos del primer mundo. El rescate es la prioridad inicial, seguida del abastecimiento de alimentos, refugios y ayuda médica. Sólo es cuestión de hacer las cosas, que deben de hacerse en la forma más efectiva para que las operaciones se lleven a cabo de acuerdo con la filosofía institucional de los países donantes.

Pero trasplantar los hábitos de una cultura a otra durante un proceso de reconstrucción puede desencadenar cambios sociales que son casi tan dañinos como el desastre mismo, como pasó en unas pequeñas comunidades pesqueras de Filipinas a finales de los años 1970.

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