Coordination in Humanitarian aid

By Duke Huang

            Ever since learning about the issue of lack of coordination and transparency, I have been thinking about what I can do to counter that. Sometimes, there are enough aid, but because of the way it is being delivered and coordinated, it is distributed terribly. As a result, it not only does not get to those who are in need, but also contribute to the conflict. I found it very interesting that some peacebuilders consider humanitarian aid as an industry, which I agree with, and it’s a huge industry as well. I personally think that since humanitarian aid is an industry with hundreds of billions of dollars spent every, there needs to be regulations of it. Not like Structural Adjustment Program, but regulations to keep humanitarian aid to fall into the wrong hands and being used with ill-intentions. 

            However, as much as we would like to regulate things, they might still be used with bad intentions and fall into the wrong hands. So, I think the coordination, organization and accountability of the humanitarian aid organizations are extremely important to make sure that the aid is delivered to those in need. From visiting Community Alliance for Safety and Peace (CASP) meeting and hearing from the program coordinator and two of the members, I have learned a lot about how coordination between different governmental sectors and non-profit organizations works. The thing that stood out to me is the fact that they are based on sharing value and common goal, instead of interests or money. I think it is very true but hard to put into practice. They also distinguish the difference between ideologies and values, which I haven’t thought much about. But when they said it, I immediately agreed with them. 

            By focusing on the sharing values and common goal, I believe that people can come and work together. What’s better, people can approach the same goal with different approaches, which I think can generate even more creative thinking. I am still thinking whether a central figure for the process is required, I agree with its importance and efficiency. However, I question whether who should be the authority, especially in a post-war context. When the situation is hard to control and people are searching for power and money. 

            I think that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has very important mission and very ambitious of its goal to bring together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort. However, because of the lack of transparency of information and willingness for the different sectors to work together, OCHA hasn’t been able to achieve what it sets out to accomplish. I think it’s a shame that NGOs and different sectors are refusing to work with each other because of their funding and ego, and I believe that maybe OCHA should take more responsibility on implementing the its framework for organizations to follow.