Forget about projects, give money to the people instead

By Gianluca Mezzofiore

Experts on international aid marked yesterday the importance of effectiveness and risk-taking in delivering money to countries in need of help. In a panel discussion chaired by Humphrey Hawksley, leading BBC foreign correspondent, four professionals on humanitarian issues admitted the failure of project-based development and stressed on the major role of local people as “big drivers” of the development.

“Let’s put more money into people,” said Paul Ackroyd, International Development Consultant ” and put emphasis on things which improve effectiveness. Don’t build schools, for instance, but support education programme experts.”

Samir Elhawary, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) research fellow, examined the role of humanitarian action in conflict-affected emergencies: “We should invest in contexts where there are national security issues,” he said “and reconsider our criteria for instability in countries like Yemen and Afghanistan. Let’s start including people that do not share our same values.”

The top line for Dorcas Erskine, ActionAid head of public affairs, is transformative development and investment in women: “Brave, radical women should be involved in the growth of developing countries,” she said.

“Value for money” is Michael Anderson‘s motto. Director general for policy and global issues at the UK’s Department for International Development, Anderson focused on the relevance of national security problems: “Aid is important, but it’s just a limited part of development,” he said. “Different organizations have to be humbler. People from developing countries drive the main development.”

He also said that Western Countries have learned a lot in the last 15 years on international aid. “Projects alone don’t produce change,” he added. “Changing one village alone won’t change the system. Working with the local government is essential.”

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