When losing track means losing lives
Erin Hohlfelder
274

Thanks, this is an interesting piece. Sadly, your experiences match those I made in Georgia in 2008 with a similar aid monitoring effort, see link below. Little progress since then, it seems — with the increasing acceptance of IATI a possible exception. I’ve got aid industry “lessons not learned” fatigue :((

There’s only one way to avoid a zillion repeats of this in future (IATI can merely mitigate): host country led reduction of donor and agency fragmentation. This is a rich world and we don’t need 30 donors, 15 UN bodies and 300 NGOs to deal with every emergency. We only need as many actors as can fit around one single table, with the country’s president sitting at the head of that table.

Aid industry players will never agree on such limitations among themselves, so it’s up to host countries to act. Ironically, if there’s one problem any developing or crisis-struck country ***CAN*** solve by itself it’s donor fragmentation. Don’t have a hundred million minimum? There’s the door. Want to register your INGO that hasn’t worked here before? Ask again next year.

Georgia didn’t Luxembourg chipping in 10,000 dollars for food aid within a 4 billion dollar overall aid package. There were more NGOs working in conflict-affected villages than there were conflict-affected villages overall (literally, no joke).

Donors must disburse money. If a country bars 25 of them, the remaining 5 will see a chance to spend more. Equally, massively scaling up 4 INGOs with in-country experience is far cheaper and more efficient than having dozens of new arrivals setting up all at once.

But it really is up to host governments — they are ultimately responsible for everything that happens on their soil. I’m not going to blame the Red Cross if an Ebola response in the UK fails either.

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