|+ ‘Thanks but no thanks’ - Should NGOs go or stay?
ACFID has done some analysis post the Sulawesi Tsunami
on how localisation worked.
At the time, the Indonesian government’s request for international NGOs not to come, made sense. This was localisation working. The last thing affected communities needed was a flood of overseas aid workers all needing beds, food and water when there were none of the above for locals.
But its not always that simple:
“Due to extensive damage to infrastructure, and fuel and electricity shortages, it was difficult for relief workers to reach the areas most affected by the disaster and information-flow was patchy. Those that had made it through were relaying that in the critical first days - when people can be rescued from under collapsed housing and rubble - not enough was being done to save lives and aid workers were being stopped from helping. It was causing anger and frustration,” writes ACFID’s Tim Watkin.
“It’s tricky because aid donors, like Australia and ACFID’s members, have committed to the principle of ‘localisation’ which means ensuring that humanitarian action is as local as possible. But NGOs have a responsibility to call it as it is, to be truthful in communicating the reality of a dreadful situation and the relief that is required.”
In the end it’s a balance, and each situation is different. Local first responders need relieving; and sometimes, you just need outside help to save as many people as possible.
The bottom line is that the response is driven by local needs.