This field study represents the second half of a modest research project to investigate whether international Islamic aid agencies can make use of their privileged relationship in majority Muslim societies to achieve high standards of efficacity, as Christian agencies are often able to do in majority Christian societies. (The first case study was conducted in Mali, where the evidence was clearly positive.) Post-tsunami relief aid in Aceh, Indonesia, was chosen for the second case study, with a focus on rehousing programmes. Attention is given to the contrasting programmes of the Turkish Red Crescent Society (strictly speaking, a non-confessional organization) and of two British agencies, Islamic Relief Worldwide and Muslim Aid. The conclusion is reached that whereas benefit has been gained from the ‘cultural proximity’ of Muslim agencies, this is a problematic concept and the main reason for the high reputation of all three organizations in Aceh has been the recognized quality and reliability of their service delivery. However, in the current international political climate where the entire sector of Islamic charities is experiencing an overreaction against them after 9/11, it should not be necessary for a Muslim charity to demonstrate that it can do better than non-Muslim charities – only that it can do as well.
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.
By definition, virtually all development interventions contain a welfare element. This welfare element involves the subsidized provision to a marginalized group or community by an external agency, physical, human, and/or social capital. Where marginalization is compounded by some type of natural disaster or civil conflict, the welfare element is justifiably high. Where impoverishment is less acute and more chronic, it is generally held that the welfare element should be minimized to avoid dependency and attack underlying structural constraints. However, it is clear that even mature southern nongovernmental organization’s development interventions involve some welfare element (see, Lovell, 1992). Indeed, the widely adopted micro-credit approach generally requires some external subsidy (Yaron, 1994). As the distinction between relief and development intervention becomes blurred, a more helpful way to type responses to impoverishment is needed. This paper suggests a continuum is more useful way of understanding various humanitarian responses: ranging from welfare-dominant, including material assistance for immediate need (e.g., provision of food), material assistance for intermediate need (e.g., provision of seed), through provision of social services (e.g., primary health-care education), single component interventions (e.g., micro-credit), integrated interventions (e.g., sub-sector promotion or microenterprise credit), to development- or self-reliance-dominant, via capacity building of new community networks and norms (i.e., building new forms of social capital). Then the paper sets out to analyse these approaches in terms of poverty and gender reach, operational costs, direct impact, secondary impact through growth linkages, and institutional sustainability.