Share

The role of the ‘new aid’ providers

The role of the ‘new aid’ providers
Blogs

The role of the ‘new aid’ providers

Finance | Andrew Chaggar | 18 Apr 2011

Andrew Chaggar says commentators continue to under-value the complementary role smaller aid organisations can play in international crises.

Last December I wrote a blog post which responded to a Guardian article by Rory Carroll calling for an end to “aid tourism in Haiti”.  In that blog I stated that the work of larger, established NGOs and smaller, newer groups should be viewed as complementary rather than competitive.

However, it seems that many people still view newly-emerging approaches to humanitarian aid as mutually-exclusive to traditional ones.  For example, this week I came across another article, again in the Guardian, which reflects this ‘either-or’ perspective rather than one which considers the benefits of plurality.

This more recent article, by Joel Charny of InterAction, discusses the inability of the ‘new aid’ providers to respond to more ‘complex’ emergencies in places like Libya and the Ivory Coast.  Mr Charny uses these points to highlight why traditional, established NGOs are still vital.

This is a point I whole-heartedly agree with.  As I stated in last December’s blog large, established NGOs are essential in saving lives and leveraging resources.  Their work around the world, particularly in conflict zones, is invaluable and the challenges they face are unlikely to be tackled by others anytime soon.

However, Mr Charny does make some points that I don’t agree with.  For example he argues that newer groups tend to operate only in highly visible disaster zones, such as in Haiti and after the 2004 tsunami.  He also claims that those affected in lower profile emergencies will “never be more than an afterthought to the new aid providers”.

Having worked with several volunteer-driven disaster response organisations, and now having founded the first such charity registered in the UK, Mr Charny’s views here don’t correspond to either my experiences or my understanding of the potential power of volunteers.

For example, in 2007 I spent nine months managing volunteers in the Peruvian city of Pisco which was devastated by an 8.0 earthquake.  This disaster attracted very little media attention and as a result relatively little support in the way of public donations.  Consequently I witnessed very little work being undertaken by traditional NGOs.

In contrast, groups who mobilised volunteers, and through their social networks also financial support, were able to effectively provide assistance where other, larger groups struggled.  So, while us ‘new aid’ providers will not replace traditional NGO’s in more complex environments, I would argue that in certain cases we actually have a better ability to mobilise support in less visible disaster zones.

As our charity, and others like us, grow and attract more and more volunteers, this ability will only increase.  I would argue that this could become a great compliment to the work of traditional NGOs, particularly as they become increasingly stretched by more emergencies, including rising weather-related disasters stemming from climate change.

Further, as well as the impact that volunteers can make while in the field, I also believe that there is an additional, perhaps even greater value in what they take home with them in terms of experience and understanding.

For example, since the mid-1970s Oxfam has channelled some of its resources to providing development education to the UK public.  Such efforts have been credited with creating support for African famine aid in the 1980s and for more recent campaigns such as “Make Poverty History” by providing a fundamental understanding of poverty overseas and its knock-on effects, including vulnerability to disasters.

In my mind, providing opportunities for more people to participate in disaster recovery through volunteering is a natural, and again complimentary, extension to this work by a traditional NGO.  The main difference is that instead of using a media campaign to communicate the message, some ‘new aid’ providers are giving people first-hand awareness and exposure to these issues.

My point through all of this is that we really need to stop making over-simplified comparisons between ‘professional’ NGOs and newly emerging approaches. More importantly we also need to stop this ‘us and them’ mentality.

As I’ve stated before there are good and bad examples of all types of organisation and all of them also have different strengths and weaknesses.  Surely the most important thing is that we recognise this and together do all we can to complement each other’s work.
 
Andrew Chaggar is executive director of European Disaster Volunteers which he co-founded in 2008, and is a 2010 Vodafone World of Difference International winner  

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Andrew Chaggar

Andy Chaggar is executive director of International Disaster Volunteers (IDV) which he co-founded in 2008. In 2004, he was seriously injured and bereaved in the South East Asian tsunami, after which he became a disaster response volunteer, and founded IDV.

Follow Andy on Twitter @IDVExec

Ian Allsop (64) John Tate (56) David Davison (49) Robert Ashton (41) Tania Mason (24) Andrew Hind CB (20) Gordon Hunter (17) Daniel Phelan (14) David Ainsworth (13) Vibeka Mair (12)
David Philpott (10) Celina Ribeiro (8) Niki May Young (8) Rui Domingues (8) Andrew Chaggar (5) James Brooke Turner (4) Sir Stuart Etherington (4) Kate Sayer (3) Jeremy Swain (3) Garreth Spillane (3) Alistair Gibbons (3) Ian Clark (3) Claris D'cruz (2) Stephen Lloyd (2) Richard Maitland (2) Adrian Beney (2) Iain Pritchard (2) Pauline Broomhead (2) Martin Brookes (2) Tesse Akpeki (2) Nick Brooks (2) Stephen Hammersley (2) June O'Sullivan (2) Dan Corry (2) Peter Holbrook (2) Belinda Pratten (2) Simon Steeden (2) Jonathan Bruck (2) Dan Gregory (2) Making Good: The Future of the Voluntary Sector (2) Mark Astarita (1) Don Bawtree (1) Sir Stephen Bubb (1) Victoria Cook (1) Lindsay Gray (1) Rachel Holmes (1) Nick Ivey (1) Iona Joy (1) John Kelly (1) Michael King (1) Heather Lamont (1) Lucy McLynn (1) Chris Oulton (1) Julian Rathbone (1) Socrates Socratous (1) Richard Weaver (1) Karl Wilding (1) Richard Williams (1) Roger Chester (1) Matthew Bowcock (1) Joe Saxton (1) Reuben Turner (1) Martin Farrell (1) Paul Gibson (1) Jonathon Grapsas (1) Andrew Scadding (1) Simon Hebditch (1) Su Sayer (1) Debra Allcock Tyler (1) Martin Birch (1) Mark Hallam (1) Jonathan Lewis (1) Sara Llewellin (1) John Low (1) Dame Mary Marsh (1) Ruth Murphy (1) Colin Nee (1) Julia Unwin (1) Kate Rogers (1) Malcolm Hayday (1) Filippo Addarii (1) Kimberley Scharf (1) Jakes Ferguson (1) Jessica Sklair (1) Joe Turner (1) John May (1) Julian Blake (1) Rosie Chapman (1) Andy Williamson (1) Malcolm Hurlston (1) Andrew Samuel (1) Chester Mojay-Sinclare (1) Paul Amadi (1) Kirsty Weakley (1) Luke Fletcher (1) Peter Mitchell (1) Billy Dove (1) Andrew Ketteringham (1) Jackie Turpin (1) Lynne Robb (1) Jonathan Crown (1) Paul Emery (1) Ruchir Shah (1) Pesh Framjee (1) Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs (1) Moira Protani (1) Vicki Prout (1) Michael O'Toole (1) Dawn Austwick (1) Lisa Clavering (1) Paul Farmer (1) Neelam Makhijani (1) Logan Anderson (1) Andy Rich (1) Sharon Martin (1) Asheem Singh (1) Leigh Daynes (1) Abdurahman Sharif (1) Lynne McMahon (1) Richard Caulfield (1) Carolyn Sims (1) Ashley Horsey (1)
Less +++ More +++

Civil Society Christmas Charity Quiz

19 Dec 2014

It's the last Civil Society News bulletin before Christmas, and we know and you know that you're just...

Top charity news stories of 2014: October to December

17 Dec 2014

Civil Society News is bringing you a festive countdown in the run-up to Christmas. On the eleventh day...

Top charity news stories of 2014: July to September

15 Dec 2014

Civil Society News is bringing you a festive countdown in the run-up to Christmas. On the eighth day we...

Media scrutiny of the charity sector in 2014

12 Dec 2014

Civil Society News is bringing you a festive countdown in the run-up to Christmas. On the seventh day...

Society Diary: Charity cash spent on teeth, troubles over Tony Blair, and being rude to fundraisers

5 Dec 2014

Our weekly round-up of outlandish and interesting information collected from the corners of the charity...

Society Diary: The best loo joke, the typical charity fan, and the Guide Dogs fundraiser sacked for sight problems

21 Nov 2014

Our weekly round-up of outlandish and interesting information collected from the corners of the charity...