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NGOs make pledge to shift the power in international aid

31 October 2022

Pledge for Change

SOME of the world’s largest NGOs have pledged to change the aid system to shift power away from the donor organisations to those most affected by crisis and poverty.

Christian Aid, CARE International, Save the Children International, Plan International, and Oxfam International have promised to form equitable partnerships with local organisations, only stepping in when there is not the capacity to meet need locally.

They have signed up to a Pledge for Change, which says that, although there are times when international agencies will be needed, “we need to know when to step away as well”. In emergency situations, the charities have made a commitment to find ways of working with local and national organisations and support them as they take over decision-making.

They say that when international organisations compete for funds and staff they can weaken the societies that they are trying to strengthen; so, in future, they will allocate more money to help local organisations to take the lead, and they have pledged to collaborate between themselves to reduce duplication of efforts.

The pledge also commits the charities to changing the way in which they present stories to the public: moving away from a “white-saviourism” which “reinforces stereotypes whereby we give, and they passively receive”.

The signatories agree that “the reality is quite different. The best results are achieved when people in their communities lead the decision-making. That is why we’re pledging here not only to work more closely with communities, but also to tell their stories more respectfully.”

The pledge says: “We will continue to show the harsh realities of poverty, conflict, hunger, and natural disasters because humanitarian crises should not be sanitised. But we’ll avoid exploitative imagery that portrays people as helpless victims.”

The year 2030 has been set as the date to instil equal partnerships with local organisations as the default approach, to offer “authentic” storytelling, and to try to bring about similar change across the aid and development sectors, and also to challenge government approaches to aid.

The pledge for change process was spearheaded by Adesco, a humanitarian and development organisation in Kenya.

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