Friday, January 16, 2004

African food appeal 'exaggerated'

Some of Britain's leading international charities who tried to help southern Africa avoid a food crisis in 2002-03 overstated the seriousness of the situation to the public, failed to consult the people they were trying to help and did not listen to people's needs, according to an independent evaluation of the year-long emergency ... (link)
Here is the full-text of the audit conducted by Valid Internaional. And here is the response from the aid agencies.

From what I've read thus far, the report strikes me as being more nuanced (not as damning) as the newspaper reports would have one believe.

Here is a bit from the executive summary ....
The Southern Africa Crisis Appeal was a new departure for the Disasters Emergency Committee. Here for the first time was an appeal that was intended to prevent a humanitarian crisis rather than respond to one. This led to a response that was a mixture of traditional relief activities together with activities that were more akin to rehabilitation or traditional development.

... One of the biggest problems was that the DEC agencies, like the rest of the humanitarian community, lacked a conceptual model for dealing with the crisis. The crisis was overstated in terms of the threat of famine, but at the same time the chronic roots of the crisis were understated. While internal agency analysis was often more sophisticated and nuanced than the message presented to the media, even this did not capture the whole picture. The lack of an appropriate conceptual model led to some inappropriate responses.