Blog Post #6
The first reading from The Crisis Cravan, Linda Polman describes the fundamental issues of giving aid to impoverish or sometimes war stricken areas. As you might guess, the issue is “the aid is often times going to the wrong place”. This issue has been occurring ever since aid has been first offered. Rather than the aid being given to the intended target, instead part of it goes to warlords, dictators, and other corrupt and harmful organizations using the aid to fuel their cause.
I think that she is making valid points and it is worth considering, however, I then ask myself “what is the alternative?” If we decide to cut off aid to these areas in need, instead of getting maybe only 70% of what we are sending, they receive nothing. To me, this is a far greater problem than these unsavory organizations skimming some of the aid off of the top. Because the two options become: send some aid and accept that some of it may not go to the intended group or send no aid and everyone suffers the consequences.
At the end of Polman’s The Crisis Caravan, she claims that, “Aid organizations are businesses dressed up like Mother Teresa” and she makes some points that I had not considered. She is basically saying that a lot of these aid organizations are not terribly transparent or good, and for some reason we are not questioning this. We see that an organization is helping of “giving aid” and we dot look any further than the surface. As is saying that we are taking them at face value and that can be a crucial mistake. She puts much of this burden on journalist. A journalist job, to me, is to be a societal watchdog of sorts. Meaning that they are to dig deeper than the average person to make sure that people, companies, and organizations are being truthful. So overall, they are to inform the general public of any wrongdoing. However, as she points out, this is being completely avoided in terms of aid organizations. These organizations have an obligation to the people that they simply are not fulfilling by failing to ask more questions about aid organizations.
So then, what is the solution? I stated earlier that I think that no longer offering any aid seems like a very cruel poor option. However, I realize that the money and resources are sending are often times being misused and can actually end up backfiring on us in the long term. So the question becomes, hoe can we send aid and make sure that it is getting into the right hands? I think that the solution is some more of middleman between the giver and the receiver of the aid that is not the countries government or an outside organization. A group of leaders such as the UN needs to create a firm that has a sole function of aid redistribution. We need to funnel our resources into this organization then they can redistribute it DIRECTLY to those in need. That way, an outside organization isn’t stealing funds or resources from us, and those in need are getting the aid.
This reading has made me realize that giving aid is a lot trickier than I had ever imagined. I had always thought that coming up with the resources was the toughest part of aid. Little did I know, the most difficult function was regulation and making sure that those in need are really the ones receiving it.
Polman, Linda, Liz Waters, and Linda Polman. The Crisis Caravan: What’s Wrong with Humanitarian Aid?New York: Metropolitan, 2010. Print.