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in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and why?

Critical Synopsis Of:


Fixing the humanitarian aid system
Reference:
Fleshman, Michael Fixing the humanitarian aid system, Africa Renewal 19(4) 2006.
www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol19no4/194relief.html

1) Why am I reading this?


To answer the critical question in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and
why?

2) What are the authors trying to do in writing this?


Michael Fleshman is writing this thought provoking article in the African Renewal magazine to
ask the question is there something wrong with the way the world responds to famines,
earthquakes and floods? The article is intended to make the reader think about how the world
responds to natural disasters in particular the humanitarian aid system, and it fails to deliver
the response necessary to alleviate the cries for aid across the world.

3) What are the authors saying that is relevant to what I want to find out?
Aid is received too late, and that only a fraction of the target areas are met. Quicker response
needed.
Fixing the humanitarian emergency response system and anchoring it more firmly in long-term
development goals is an important part of sec-gen Kofi Annans plan for UN reform. It could
mean the life and death for millions of people.
The New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD), Africas long term plan, argue aid
problems can be alleviated by strengthening local agricultural production and rural living
standards are raised. In the short term rapid humanitarian interventions followed by
rehabilitation are required before normal development can resume

in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and why?
What is beingdone to fix it?

in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and why?
There is a general agreement that the current system does not facilitate rapid responses and
fails to generate adequate resources. Backed by Oxfam study.
He argues part of the problem is money. However reserves of $50million have been established
by the UN for disaster relief known as the Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF) in 1991.
But the problem is the countries need donor pledges before funds can be released which can
be difficult for some countries in the first place. Slowing the arrival of assistance and increasing
human suffering.
Another process is the Consolidated Appeal Process, which issues flash appeals for sudden
crises. Though, on average only 16 per cent of requested funds are generated this way. Kofi
Annan.
There are too many delays in getting the money and resources to the places that need them. A
metaphor of petitioning for money.
Political interests also play a role in who gets funds and who doesnt, reward allies punish
opponents. After the cold war political ties with many developing countries were cut which
eroded the countries influence with donors. Aid has never been distributed on the basis of
need. There are few phenomena in modern life as political as humanitarian aid.
Where the aid and resources go, depend on what the media covers in their stories. It is likened
to countries in need playing a lottery where there is one winner. This is decided by which
country gets the most media attention.

Reforming the fund Mr. Annans proposes;


a ten-fold increase in funding, to $500 mn, within three years
restructuring to provide all but $50 mn as grants instead of revolving loans
the earmarking of two-thirds of these grants for early interventions and rapid response
programmes
the ability to release funds within 7296 hours
the reservation of up to a third of annual disbursements for the urgent needs of underfinanced humanitarian operations.

These proposals helped bring forth a rapid-reaction capacity that will save lives, time and
money. Transport by air instead of sea and land has been instigated. More donor countries
welcome the reform and are pledging more money towards. However donors may only fund
some programmes, such as child feeding centres while ignoring other vital services like
providing clean water, medical care and shelter. Graphic example Niger 2004.
in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and why?
What is beingdone to fix it?

in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and why?
Other reforms include donating cash instead of commodities, the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development OECD. The food aid increases costs by as much as 50% over
locally produced goods, reduces market incentives to expand production in the affected areas,
slows arrival time and risk destroying rural economies by flooding them with food. There are
arguments on both sides, against, more money less food, destroys balance in the end could less
of both. Charities oppose the plan.
These reforms can never be a substitute for accelerated agricultural and economic
development. Higher living standards and improved harvests leave the poor less vulnerable to
weather and changing prices.
Increasing investment in agriculture, which has declined sharply. More hungry people in Africa,
number of food aid donors going down.
Conspiracy in grain reserves, IMF told to sell off reserves, no point in holding so much, 2001-2
Famine struck.
The mindset that food aid is only for emergencies, leads to greater hunger. A basic level of
nutrition is everyones right and were going to provide it. Until this happens hunger will never
end.

4) How convincing is what the authors are saying?


What Fleshman is saying very convincing, his claims are backed by studies from authoritive
sources such as the WTO, OECD, Oxfam etc. as well this he provides real world situations as
examples for his claims which further provides a convincing argument. Mentioned quite
frequently are the failures of the aid system, he does not mention many counter examples of
aid being successful apart from viewing them in bad light as others miss out on the aid due to
others receiving more media attention.

5) In conclusion, what use can I make of this?


this article can be used to show and explain the failures of the humanitarian aid system and
explain what reforms are in place to solve the problem. Also this article has some good
examples and references which I can use as (counter) evidence.
in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and why?
What is beingdone to fix it?

in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and why?

Code: (1) = Return to this for detailed analysis; (2) = An important general text; (3 ) = Of minor
importance; (4) = Not relevant.
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in what ways does the humanitarian aid system need fixing, and why?
What is beingdone to fix it?