4 years ago
Aid is no panacea: it can’t solve all the problems of the world by any means. But it can, and does, help. Similarly economic growth has an important role to play. Yet economic growth isn’t everything either, and even in its absence some good can be done.
Famine has a technical meaning these days. It is declared when 30% of children are acutely malnourished, 20% of the population is without food, and deaths are running at two per 10,000 adults or four per 10,000 children every day. ...
Yet famine was not declared until July, eight months after the first FEWS Net forecast. ...
Outsiders’ caution is linked to the role of the Shabab... The Shabab has banned food aid in most of southern Somalia since 2009, branding Western aid agencies anti-Muslim. The WFP, the biggest provider of food aid, has had 14 staff killed there since 2008. Agencies also worry that militias use food aid to rally their troops—some say this happened in Ethiopia and Eritrea in the 1980s—and do not want to pile into southern Somalia to find they have reinvigorated the Shabab.
... Some, but not all, parts of the Shabab seem to be looking for help. [Chance to split al-Shabaab?]
... FEWS Net may have predicted famine but nothing happened until television cameras showed up, beaming out pictures of fragile children arriving at the huge Kenyan refugee camp at Dadaab in large numbers. Aid officers worry about being criticised by the public and their own bosses if they spend scarce resources before there is an outcry. The result is that donors often ignore their own early warnings. “We’re not behaving like good risk managers,” worries Duncan Green, the head of research at Oxfam.
Quite apart from the death toll and the misery, this is criminally wasteful. When famine threatened Niger in 2005, the cost of help was put at $7 a head. No one did much; the famine struck; the cost of help ended up at $23 each. Economic incentives and early-warning systems say donors should act early. But the political incentives advise delay—until it is too late.
My primary criticism of the doctrine as it is currently written is the doctrine's weakness with respect to waging counterinsurgency as a third party, something both Charlie "Erin" Simpson and Steve Biddle have written a lot about.
...I think these three thinkers and experienced counterinsurgents took the right approach: concise points on why the current doctrine is insufficient that should be readily apparent to anyone who has participated in COIN operations. ...I would suggest adding a few more to the list, though.
1. The new manual should spend some time and space discussing counterinsurgency as it fits within and relates to the total spectrum of warfare.
2. Speaking of #12, the new manual should go beyond the fact that legitimate violence is an element of COIN and expand on how to use it: primarily the use of indirect and air fires.
3. We need a better discussion of ends. I don't know that the new manual wants to wade into the minefield that is COIN metrics... We just had no idea what we were working towards other than "better than things are now" - talk about mission creep potential.
4. Interagency, interagency, interagency. ... I could write a book on this topic, because it's still so screwed up (you don't want to get me started on [b]police reform[/b], for instance)...
What do Pakistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Sudan and perhaps Libya, Egypt and Tunisia have in common? Fragility and middle-income status.
Yet strikingly, some 15 of the 56 countries on the bank’s lower-middle income list (ie, over a quarter) also appear on the list of fragile and failed states maintained by the OECD, a rich-country club.
I'm not 'anti-aid'. But I do think that we should be clear about what the aid program is trying to achieve, and I think both the Aid Review and the Government's response have left that very muddled. Both say that the primary purpose of Australia's aid is to 'overcome poverty'. Is that something aid can do?