01.02.2022 – 18:24
SWR – The First
Some of the flood aid money goes into a questionable project / “Report Mainz” this Tuesday, February 1, 2022, 9:45 p.m. in the first
Mainz. Almost seven months after the flood disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, a large part of the donations for the reconstruction still cannot be paid out to those affected. This is shown by research by the ARD political magazine “Report Mainz”. According to the German Institute for Social Issues (DZI), more than 580 million euros were donated after the flood in July 2021. The Deutschland Hilft campaign had collected the largest sum: over 270 million euros. These donations should actually be used by aid organizations such as Malteser, Johanniter and others. In practice, however, more than half of the donations are still in the alliance organization’s account.
Aktion Deutschland Hilft: “The legal situation is completely slowing down payments”
In an interview with “Report Mainz”, the CEO of Aktion Deutschland Hilft, Manuela Roßbach, explains that around 30 million euros in immediate aid were paid after the disaster, donations in kind were financed or charitable projects were supported. But now everything is getting more complicated with the donations for the reconstruction: “You can’t simply pay out money. The legal situation is completely slowing down the payments.” The complicated laws force the aid organizations to wait until the state has paid out its aid money for the reconstruction of buildings. According to research by the ARD political magazine, other aid organizations are not yet able to pay out reconstruction aid either. Criticism also comes from the chairman of the German Fundraising Association. In an interview with “Report Mainz”, Martin Georgi criticizes the bureaucratic regulations. There is no legal basis for providing concrete help in emergencies and disasters. Financial help is delayed by the rigid rules, and in some cases even prevented by companies. It is not legally possible to pay out donations to winegrowers or traders.
Last Friday, the Federal Ministry of Finance had rejected any responsibility at the request of “Report Mainz” and explained: “The state finance authority is responsible for the assessment and legal classification of the payments in each individual case. However, there is agreement that there is always a need for meaningful support there should be a workable solution.” Today, the Federal Ministry of Finance announced a solution and explained to “Report Mainz”: A way had been found that “should enable the funds collected to be paid out to the affected companies.” However, no details were given.
Microorganisms: questionable donations?
According to research by the ARD political magazine, donations are sometimes spent for questionable purposes. In this way, several tens of thousands of liters of liquid containing so-called microorganisms were distributed. They should be applied to walls and floors, among other things, and help to combat leaked heating oil, mold and odours. According to its own statement, the donation alliance Aktion Deutschland Hilft alone is providing 450,000 euros for these special bacteria. The responsible donation organization ADRA Germany e. V. advertises the liquid as an all-purpose product. Several independent scientists doubt the effect in specific individual cases compared to “Report Mainz”. The microbiologist Professor Rainer Meckenstock from the University of Duisburg-Essen criticizes: “If you apply a liquid that contains normal microorganisms such as yeast or lactic acid bacteria to walls, it will certainly not fight mold, but may even promote it. According to the product description “There are no microorganisms in the liquid that can break down oil. It is absurd to hope that commonplace bacteria or yeast would accelerate the breakdown of oil.” Professor Dirk Bockmühl from the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences exclusively examined a sample for the ARD political magazine “Report Mainz”: “We have […] found microorganisms as similar as promised on the product. What we have to say, however, is that there are relatively few. For me as a scientist, this is highly questionable, because we naturally assume that such donations will also go to measures that are scientifically based. And we don’t have that here.”
The aid organization ADRA Germany eV admits that the effect has so far only been marginally scientifically proven. Nevertheless, based on the experience, the organization sees the effect as proven and explains to “Report Mainz”: “Although extensive scientific evidence is still missing, we do not think it can be deduced from this that there is no evidence-based effectiveness.” The alliance organization Aktion Deutschland Hilft explains that it did not check the project in advance, but would like to do so now after the “Report Mainz” research.
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