Innovation in the humanitarian sector: sustainable funding system

a38f2c050c93b3256f8b17ef5f77a7f33028339a_800x600As the surrealist picture of Erik Johansson when the path doesn´t answer to our needs, it’s imperative to build new ones by our own. That’s the big challenge that this new age demands.

In a world hit by multiple crises–migration, financial, institutional, leadership, etc- explore new forms of humanitarian aid and/or development becomes the key for making aid a sustainable system. As a first measure, it’s important to change traditional channels of functioning.

An alarming corruption in the political system has transformed the humanitarian system on unsustainable and inefficient. The traditional funding system is not working and demands a radical change that allows a flexible system focused on empower people in vulnerable situations.

The lack of trust that a world in crisis delivers – within the framework of a financial crisis- makes of direct investment the best option for big donors. Recent resolution from Trump´ administration that involves “dramatic reductions in foreign aid” confirms the worst predictions.The reduction of budget added to a bad management and a bureaucratic system ends in other crisis: institutional, threating the own survival of the humanitarian system.

“This new normal for foreign aid supposes an anarchic strategy that makes of private sector the big player of this uncoordinated game that looks more to charity than to a serious global strategy of development aid”* Within the humanitarian organisations -and in many cases- funds originally intended for an specific project are being redirect to pay off their own debt and this is why there is a dramatic loose of trust towards the sector. Having as a direct consequence the surge of parallel systems that guarantee private donors certainty for their investment.

However, current relevant role of the private sector not necessary goes to the empowerment of local people (including emergency situations) but of the absolute control at financial level. That´s the next step: generate a wave of communities and individuals resilient to crisis and not dependent on the humanitarian system. Humanitarian aid supposes “assistance” not a permanent deliver of services because of the lack and weak public intervention. Even if the need for empowerment is not new there ought to make it a results-driven strategy. Is precisely for this reason that private projects become more influential.

Climate change it’s the best example that illustrates this new stage: it has created a new category of refugees that easily foresee that the humanitarian sector will overwhelm their own capacities as well as governments. Is it so, that local empowerment is the only way that assures the survival of vulnerable communities although not necessary of the humanitarian sector.

Lack of trust and fear mark the rhythm of this new world in which private investors keep an attitude of excessive caution, looking at traditional aid channels as ineffective engines unable to contribute to a resilient society.

 Now, do we have to donate directly or trust on the system? Maybe the answer is both and only the harmonic combination will get into sustainable results. Just the fact that vulnerable communities would design there own priorities will make them less vulnerable and build grow up societies for facing challenges.

Is it also true that basic needs -education, health, food- have to be guaranteed not only by the investment of the private sector but also by supporting civil society organizations that control and monitoring, mainly within corrupt systems.

A strong local leadership is the key.

*”The paradoxical future of foreign aid”.

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