Oxfam Scandal Shows Aid Agencies Need External Accountability, Should Work With Countries For Long-Term Development

IRIN: Aid agencies can’t police themselves. It’s time for a change
Dorothea Hilhorst, professor of Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction at the International Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam

“…[D]espite … sector-wide initiatives to hold NGOs accountable for power abuses, the initiatives all rely on the voluntary buy-in of NGOs, who ultimately retain power to independently deal with abuse. In light of this, how can the external accountability of humanitarian NGOs be strengthened? … Abuse of power is an inherent risk in the unequal relations between aid providers and vulnerable populations. An independent ombudsperson can provide the necessary space for victims to speak out and seek justice. Internal procedures are not enough, it is time to bring accountability to the next level” (2/22).

Washington Post: What the Oxfam sex scandal reveals about aid and power in Haiti
Jovenel Moïse, president of Haiti

“…The general paradigm of aid and power in Haiti, as elsewhere in the developing world, is not a balanced one. … The level and direction of aid, and its implementation, is controlled by donor forces with little or no input from Haiti’s government or other local stakeholders. … Something clearly needs to change. Cutting aid certainly is not the answer … Haiti needs support from the international community while working toward economic stability and ultimately the type of national prosperity that will enable us to be self-sufficient. … Our government, however, must now move into the driver’s seat. … We know exactly what we need in order for our country to develop, to become more self-reliant, to move away from aid dependence. … While we pursue accountability for what occurred [with Oxfam] in 2011, we must simultaneously pursue long-term, clear-eyed solutions to the root causes. It’s not enough to punish one or two individuals, or to shame an organization. We have an entire cycle to break in order for the vulnerable to become the empowered” (2/23).

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