Is it time to reassess where the money goes?
In 2011, 12 million fewer people worldwide were deemed to require humanitarian aid by the United Nations (UN) than in the year before. Nevertheless, the UN struggled to raise the finance for its humanitarian appeals, receiving just two-fifths of the money requested.
- “Is it time to reassess where the money goes?”
Hannah Edwards, Press Officer, SOS Children UK
Despite the growing number of bogus orphanages in the world, there are still many children out there who desperately need help. But how to do you find a genuine charity to support?
With the global economic crisis, many governments and donors have reduced their levels of giving. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the amount of aid which went to developing countries in 2011 fell for the first time since 1997.
The drop in both emergency and development aid is of great concern, particularly at a time when economic difficulties are reducing private investment in low-income countries. But maybe this particular cloud has one silver lining. The shortfall in giving is at least sparking a lively debate about how aid money should best be spent.
With regards to humanitarian aid for example, emergency famine responses require a huge amount. The recent Horn of Africa relief effort cost over 1.2 billion dollars to help 4 million people through just one drought crisis. Some development agencies argue that a fraction of this money spent over just a few years could help local farmers improve harvests and adapt to climate change, lessening the likelihood of future famines.
A new study published by economists in the United States also challenges whether food aid should be sent to certain countries with instability. The authors argue that food shipments can actually fuel violence. It is common for supplies to be stolen by armed groups from convoys or taken as a form of tax from the needy. This mass appropriation of aid can serve to increase or lengthen the duration of some civil conflicts.
A UK parliamentary committee recently concluded that the Department for International Development should continue to invest in fragile or conflict-scarred states, despite the risks of delivering aid in these difficult environments. However, it warned that conditions or benchmarks should be set for all receiving governments. If countries then fail meet their commitments to improving transparency, accountability or human rights, the committee advised that aid programmes should be cancelled, as indeed recently happened in the case of Malawi.