I watched the BBC’s The Trouble with Aid with my wife, who does not work in development or humanitarian aid. She was very troubled by the issues. So was I, of course, all over again. I was impressed by the honesty of Dr Randolph Kent of King’s College London, in the debate afterwards:
One of the fundamental failures of the UN, of the agencies…of the system as a whole, is that we don’t really know how to engage with people effectively – those who are vulnerable, who are in need of assistance. And this is a really fundamental problem.
(Dr. Randolph Kent, ex-UN, now with the Humanitarian Futures Programme)
BBC: The Trouble with Aid: The Debate (till 16/12/12)
I was also glad to see Hugo Slim beeing consulted. His writing is warm, humane, instructive and beautifully crafted. Here are three recommendations from his papers on humanitarian aid:
- ‘Doing the right thing: relief agencies, moral dilemmas and moral responsibility in political emergencies and war’, Studies on Emergencies and Disaster Relief, no. 6, Nordiska Afrikainstitute, pp. 3–11. (1997)
- ‘Dissolving the difference between humanitarianism and development: the mixing of a rights-based solution’, Development in Practice, vol. 10, nos. 3–4, pp. 491–494. (2000)
- ‘A call to alms: humanitarian action and the art of war’, Opinion, Geneva, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, February 2004.