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Wednesday, April 14, 2021
GENEVA, Mar 7 2012 (IPS) - As donors struggle to meet their aid commitments, and the number of people around the world in need of direct humanitarian and development assistance skyrockets, many experts and activists are asking the tough question: are donors being effective? A report published today by the Spanish non-governmental organisation DARA on donor effectiveness highlighted some of the biggest obstacles to aid reaching target populations, including insufficient consideration of women’s needs, politicisation of aid and lack of long-term plans for humanitarian assistance. “If donors want to make sure that money gets to the people, they must analyse the different needs of women and men,” Philip Tamminga, coordinator of DARA’s 2011 Humanitarian Response Index (HRI), told IPS. For example, after the 2010 floods in Pakistan, humanitarian agencies distributed inappropriate hygiene kits to women, and failed to address cultural norms that would have allowed women to be adequately cared for by men. Similarly, Tamminga explained, much of the gender-based violence that shook the post-earthquake tent cities in Haiti’s Port-au-Prince and outlying areas could have been avoided if women’s security at latrines and water and sanitation installations had been taken into consideration when building the refugee camps. Tamminga believes much of aid inefficacy is directly linked to a lack of preparedness for dealing with natural disasters and armed conflicts.
The HRI looked at 19 of the world’s biggest donors and ranked Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands as the ‘best’ donors, with the U.S. coming in 17th and Italy receiving the lowest rank on the index. While traditional donor governments still provide 85 percent of global aid, 40 percent of the funds channelled into relief work in Haiti came from private sources and new government donors like Brazil, Venezuela and Cuba. In fact, DARA has tracked a sustained shift from traditional donors to new, emerging funders. “We want to encourage good practices with these new donors,” Tamminga told IPS. “If not for new donors like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, Yemen, for example, would receive little aid. And many of these Gulf donors are becoming much more aware of international standards – Qatar and the UAE are good examples.” He stressed the importance of new and old players working together and teaching each other about cultural norms and the needs of specific populations. The private sector also has a lot to offer in terms of innovation, quick responses and utilising existing networks and infrastructure. In Haiti, cell phones proved to be a useful tool for disseminating messages on cholera prevention, when an outbreak erupted after the earthquake. “If the private sector understands humanitarian principles and good practices – like standards on the donation of drugs, that forbid sending medicines that are close to expiration – then it can contribute to using aid appropriately and effectively,” Tamminga concluded.
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