New Humanitarian Analysis Examines How COVID-19 Pandemic Could Change Humanitarian Sector, Aid

New Humanitarian: COVID-19 changed the world. Can it change aid, too?
“…The aid industry, as we know it today, was shaped by this common collective experience of war. … Independent and neutral institutions would go into a troubled country, ideally with skilled professionals, and not only bring shelter and deliver food, but offer solace — humanitarians were the ones who would sit down with people, have tea, help. … But the means by which the system has gone about achieving those goals — premised largely on using Western- and Northern-dominated institutions to dictate how poorer countries solve their problems — have been objectionable to many. Voices are now being raised within the aid sector and beyond, amplifying those objections, revolting against top-down power structures and demanding change. At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic has flipped aid’s business model — deploying hundreds of outside experts to move in and assist — on its head. The question my students will need to consider as they embark on their careers in the humanitarian sector — and as my colleagues and I continue ours — is: Does this moment demand a new conception of ‘aid’ altogether? And can the industry finally acknowledge that while the premise upon which it was founded remains noble and necessary, the structure itself risks being rendered obsolete?…” (Alexander, 7/16).

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