In the milieu of chronic conflict and political instability, such as the Liberian case, there is a continuous flux of peaks and valleys in conflict intensity. Both relief and development are needed, and they are not mutually exclusive. A linear model is not possible. In lieu of the relief-development continuum, a more recent concept embraced by humanitarian and development practitioners, is that of developmental relief. Developmental relief is rooted in the concept of supporting livelihoods rather than simply providing basic relief. Through the use of a case study, this article is intended to challenge the way we think about humanitarian assistance during protracted political instability. This field report focuses on how one organization, the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Initiative (SARDI) of the United Methodist Church, has used the Integrated Pest Management-Farmer Field School format to provide developmental relief to four villages in Nimba County, Liberia.
This paper reviews UNRWA’s fifty-five years of operation as a representative case of international aid gone sour. UNRWA has been the most prolonged, most expensive, and most controversial assistance operation. The study shows that prolonged operations go through three phases: first, a short emergency endeavor is carried out as a fire-extinguisher mechanism. Second, the operation becomes bureaucratized, and working norms, procedures, rules and regulations are established. Finally, the operation folds up, and responsibilities are transferred to legitimate local authority. UNRWA never reached the third phase, and it continues to operate as a “non-territorial government” competing with the elected Palestinian Authority for funds and responsibilities. UNRWA’s hastily drawn mandate left a void in defining the agency’s operating regulations and its “exit strategy”. Also lacking are regulations concerning the protection of the refugees human rights, a critical issue in the violent Israeli-Palestinian relations. In conclusion, when a short-term emergency assistance becomes a long-term operation, the mission becomes politicized, original objectives become irrelevant, and the hastily adopted mandate serves as a recipe for mismanagement