A simple economic model was used to compare the aid costs of two approaches to supporting pastoralist households during drought in Ethiopia. One approach was the use of timely commercial destocking, enabling households to acquire cash through modest livestock sales to private traders, and use of this cash to buy food, and inputs to protect key livestock assets. The other approach was the provision of food aid, meeting household-level food security requirements but with loss of key livestock assets. Post drought, the food aid provision was continued along with restocking. The results showed that the aid cost of commercial destocking was 125 times less expensive than the food aid-restocking option when local food aid was used, and 137 less expensive than imported food aid. Further use and adaptation of the model is proposed to allow analysis of the aid cost of safety net provision.
In the past century, the number of world-wide NGOs has ballooned from roughly 400 to over 25,000. Though efforts have been made to professionalize the field of humanitarian engagement, serious flaws still exist in the ways NGOs develop and respond to emergencies. For instance, many funders require that international NGOs work with community-based organizations or local NGOs. In many situations, however, local organizations may be non-existent or ill-qualified to administer programs. As a result, services provided through hastily created local partners can be detrimental to the host community and can waste substantial amounts of time and money. A case study from eastern DRC will illustrate some of the pitfalls inherent in responding to disasters in an under-developed conflict environment. A basic set of guidelines are developed to outline the criterion for healthy partnerships between international and national NGOs.