Preach transparency in aid programming. Publish all aid activities and funds so the general public knows. It improves transparency in humanitarian assistance.
By Simon J. Mone
Aid agencies, donor governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) continue to make global commitments to support suffering people in our under-developed part of the globe.
As part of their support, they continue to send money. They also contribute food items as well as non-food items. Most importantly, they are providing bursaries to enable the less rich children go to school. Education to me is by far the best way in which aid agencies contribute to helping the needy. Education builds community's capacity to think independently. The young kids when they grow up can think hard enough to hopefully be a part of the solutions to their various problems.
While humanitarian organisations commit to these demanding responsibilities, it is important that recipient governments, agencies, local communities and all friends of compassion conduct themselves in the best of manners, especially in managing the generous offers that come to ease the pain of suffering populations. They ought to conduct themselves in a way that shows transparency, trust and accountability to the people that give. It is because of needy communities that this support is sent. So all stakeholders have a duty to be at their best of behaviour and do a just cause to humanity.
It is unfortunate however, that the last week has seen compassion marred by misappropriation of food aid that was meant to feed refugees in the camps. This bad habit does not only happen to food items. Even non-food items and cash donations are being diverted for selfish reasons by the people who are entrusted with the trust of custodianship of the aid. Then you ask in wonderment, how selfish we have chosen to become. Imagine a professional who can steal money meant for the less privilege communities, what they can do to government funds, meant for services in communities.
What they can do if tasked with the responsibility of procuring drugs meant to vaccinate citizens. And yet nobody bothers to follow up. There is now a clear pointer to the reason why needy communities continue to cry over services that never get to them. On the refugee front, our country has performed so admirably that the rest of the world was starting to sing our praises. They see genuine hospitality that we show to needy people and are left with nothing but praise. On the other hand, we have to consider the numerous factors that have ensured that we could lose the credit. On some occasions, a lot of aid is given to needy people, by aid workers who are themselves vulnerable. When you consider volunteer aid workers or counsellors, you could be in for shock, by how they transport themselves to work.
Volunteer aid workers at times are themselves needy, so they end up diverting refugee food. That is why when you give money to an unpaid worker to give out as cash assistance, on many occasions, things do not balance up. The other factor is due to the laxity in the aid distribution procedure. Distribution lists that are not acknowledged by aid recipients allow for a lot of concoctions. So, tidy up the procedure. Let distribution lists be verified by recipients or at least two recipient representatives. Possibly, the local leadership should always receive aid items on behalf of needy communities. Provide the distributor enough food for his family. Pay the accountant who hands out cash well, so they are not tempted to steal.
Preach transparency in aid programming. Publish all aid activities and funds so the general public knows. It improves transparency in humanitarian assistance. Involve the full participation of needy communities. Involving them ensures they own the aid delivery process.
The writer is a civil engineer