INTERNATIONAL aid agencies are missing chances to help survivors
of large-scale disasters by failing to work with local
organisations, a new report has warned.
Aid agencies that go into places after floods, earthquakes,
hurricanes, or other disasters could help more if they worked with
organisations in each area, which have in-depth local knowledge to
deliver humanitarian aid, researchers for the study found.
The report, Missed Opportunities, was commissioned by
the charities ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Tearfund,
and is based on responses to four crises: the Haiti earthquake, the
Kenya famine, the Pakistan floods, and the conflict in the Congo.
The first three of these took place in 2010.
All five of the charities work through partner organisations,
but their report says that the international sector as a whole has
failed to invest enough in local partnerships.
Andrew Carnwath, of Christian Aid, said: "Local and national
organisations play a crucial part in saving lives and rebuilding
communities after disasters, but are too often sidelined by the
international humanitarian system. This research brings strong
evidence of the benefits they bring after emergencies, and calls
for a fundamental change to the humanitarian system, to strengthen
Researchers say that they found that local partnership meant
that the aid response was more appropriate and effective, as well
as achieving better value for money. They warn that the current
international aid system is at breaking point, and will not be able
to respond to a rise in complex emergencies without working more in
The report says: "Continuing to miss this opportunity in the
face of growing vulnerability and risk is a potential tragedy among
the other inevitable tragedies that will occur."
Working with local organisations also helps to defuse any
resistance to aid, especially in politically sensitive areas such
as Burma, it states.
Jan Cocking, of Oxfam, said: "We are seeing, and will continue
to see, an increase in the number of people affected by disaster.
We cannot possibly respond to this increase without a radical shift
in the way we do things.
"It makes both economic and moral sense to invest much more in
helping to build local capacity to cope with and prepare for more
disasters. This will mean working in partnership with local people,
organisations, and authorities. It does not mean sub-contracting
because it is cheaper; it means a real partnership between
organisations that can help each other to help those in most need,
better and quicker."