Transitioning from Emergency Aid to Development Aid
Posted January 23, 2012
"International humanitarian agencies should have begun a handover to local institutions and staff, co-operating with development groups to create more permanent structures with longer-term funding. But that transition has not been easy or smooth. Too often, agencies erected walls between their aid and development work."
Michael Gabaudan of Refugees International opined about the disconnect between emergency aid to development aid in nations that have faced acute crisis. His discussion related to Sudan, yet it has relevance in Haiti.
Haiti, now two years out from the earthquake, should be in the development phase, yet we still hear discussions of building temporary shelters. Even in resource-poor settings, it is possible to ensure success of development initiatives over the long term through better system management and organization. Emphasis should be placed on developing an educated, well-trained work force, equipped to meet the needs of underserved populations.
Successful transition to development is achieved when local affected citizens and the government have a voice in the process and can influence priorities. Use of in country systems and local resources help communities become less reliant on external aid.
There is a place for accountability on the parts of the aid organizations, the local governments, and the constituents they serve. When aid organizations introduce pathways of communication with the communities they strive to help, there is real investment in a favorable outcome. It is easy to think that we know how to solve the problems of the poor better than they can themselves. But only through engagement, and ownership on the part of local communities can we reach the revitalized Haiti that we all hope for.