A short article on the BBC news earlier this week returned to the drought in Somalia and the refuge crisis. They actually, surprisingly and unexpectedly made valid and important points.
They reported that only one in three of the people in the giant refugee camp had arrived because of the drought/fighting, with the rest of the people arriving in years gone by. These people survive on the food aid supplied by the many governments and NGOs from around the world. An economy has developed which sees people collect their “aid” before then selling a proportion of it to traders who then sell it in the growing market places.
Now. Was this the intended end result of aid provision? You could argue it was given that people are surviving however, is this type of emergency “aid” helping long term? It doesn’t help the refugees to return home and receive “aid” which will allow them to live lives based on local sustainability possibilities following the investment in infrastructure and the local economy.
The truth provided by refugees interviewed strongly suggested that they didn’t want to go back to Somalia. That being the case, how much longer will the “aid ” be provided? Will these refugees be integrated into Kenya? If not and the only option is for the refugees to be returned to Somalia, then who will tackle the real problem, Somalia itself and the way in which it is run or not.
There is also the big question about “aid in general. The same issues come around time and time again. Does this not reinforce the need to address more fundamental issues rather than “aid” sticking plaster approaches? I’m sure there are people working for NGOs and charities who are doing good work and helping people live better.
Last question. If the need for “aid” goes away, what happens to all those people employed to provide it? I’m just musing here I think we are all aware of the answer and of course I haven’t mentioned the issue of corruption… That’s one for another time.