Overcoming poverty by reforming the system, not just humanitarian aid

aceadd74760c57e3148bc1067f16a84fPoverty cannot be eradicated randomly depending on humanitarian aid or foreign donors but with a in-depth reform of the system that attack present conditions and look to the future with resilience. Is imperative to reform both systems: the local political system from one hand and the humanitarian sector from the other. Having as a main goal provide equity and a balanced distribution of aid. If not, it ´d be a constant basis of aid delivery without a global strategy and reliable institutions able to receive aid in a sustainable way within a political local system that gives settlement, trust and a long-term project.

Don´t forget that poverty means living with less than U$ 1.90 per day. Speaks for itself.

MDGs aimed to “eradicate poverty and hunger” and now SDG´s aim to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”. Despite the success of the MDG´s that have reduced from 1.9 billion people in 1990 to 836 million in 2015[1] extreme poverty is still there including 7 million children under five that die every year.

In addition, 130 million people need humanitarian aid and 60 millions have been forcibly displaced from their homes for violence or because of this new threaten category: climate-change refugees. New challenges mean new codes and structures. The humanitarian and political system in the context of a global world ought to create stronger connections and that one system doesn’t dominate or replace the other. A healthy profitable interaction with counterbalance pillars is missing and is creating stagnation and lack of resilience to face current crises.

Humanitarian aid is a great tool for helping fight poverty but not to eradicate it, creating the idea that “we will always be there” to resolve the lack of commitment from governments. A vicious circle has been established in which corrupt governments instead of allocating budget to reach minimum standards their rely on the humanitarian system or on foreign aid to resolve what ought to be a government responsibility. Is it here when we realize the need for in-depth reforms in which the political system works with transparency to assure that foreign aid is reserved to emergency situations or specific situations e.g. capacity building. Under any circumstances humanitarian aid could be considered a tool that replace State´s duties. In many countries foreign aid is the only way out to alleviate poverty and the government become just a “satellital entity” unreliable and no accountable.

In addition, the crisis of the own humanitarian system including institutional aspects and budget mismanagement are factors to take in account for looking for reforms in which empowerment of local communities become the leading line of thought.

Budget deficits in humanitarian organizations -because of mismanagement and uncertainty of fund destinations- have shown that the combination of corruption in local countries and a cumbersome hierarchical pyramid within the organizations have prevented them to be sustainable financial and institutionally.In one word: Empowerment of local communities.

The world cannot afford more of the same: a bureaucratic apparatus that is leading the humanitarian sector into stagnation and the continuity of a model that is not working and by sure, is not sustainable.[2]

In recent World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul there has been established several decisions that once again are insufficient and represents promises without real action commitment: “a “Grand Bargain” between 30 top donors and aid agencies should reduce management costs, provide more flexible funding and give affected people a bigger voice in the decisions that will shape their lives.1/5 of their funding to national organizations, in response to widespread calls for more local decision-making and funding”. The “Grand Bargain”, the idea that donors and aid agencies “give a voice to affected people” is wrong from the very beginning. Local authorities and victims should be the leading people in the process by their active and committed involvement through the representation of leaders and institutions. Is it through them that the work from donors and aid agencies should be channeled. Boosting strength and “courage” of these local institutions is the real help to build pillars that allow them to take decisions according to their conditions but also to their own focus. Empowerment will never be achieved if there is still the idea that “WE give voice to affected people”, vulnerable people have a voice by their own without any external assignation. A culture of a super-power foreign aid and international organizations that establish better rules is inserted without accepting their own institutional crisis and the impact that supposes in a global context.

The rest WHS “commitments” have clear goals but not specific actions, in current times of financial crisis establishes priorities is harder than in the past, that ´s so that only an action plan with short-term goals that go beyond intentions is the way out for so complex interconnected and unforeseeable challenges.

Eradicate poverty is about making reforms to the entire political system to make them be flexible and accountable, not just supporting with traditional forms of aid.

The own aid system need to be transformed with stronger and determinate strategies that lead to more commitment and involvement with local actors, aid organizations and transparent links with governments.  Building good governance, strong humanitarian institutions and maximizing the power of local leaders and institutions. There is still a culture in which humanitarian aid, development policies and political systems are stagnate structures that do not work towards common and harmonic goals with flexible, transparent and accountable structures.

 Building good governance, strong humanitarian institutions and maximizing the power of local leaders and institutions is the best way to get to a real push to eradicate now and for all the infectious disease of extreme poverty.


[1] http://bit.ly/1CWiuTq

[2] http://bit.ly/1WoppSB

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