This article analyzes imagery and representation in humanitarianism. It focuses on ethical dilemmas aid agencies face in advertizing: on the one hand, photos of distant victims are necessary to inform and to raise funds; however, the risk is that these representations dehumanize and devalue the very individuals they are intended to assist. There are two central arguments. The first is that humanitarian actors engage imagery as a “recipe,” or means, of bridging distance, thus transporting the distant victim to donor publics. Second, the paper argues that these marketing acts raise essential ethical questions as they derive emotional force through their reliance on human misery. If images of suffering and want are a means towards a principled end, they also risk undermining the principle of humanity and calling into question the very meaning of humanitarianism. The article concludes by returning to the role of technology and change in representing humanitarian crisis.
As the importance of NGOs is in the aid process increases, this research asks whether NGOs respond to criteria similar to the proposed economic factors important in the conditional aid literature. Data from US-based NGOs, specifically, is used to ask whether country involvement varies based on funding source (receiving versus not receiving US government contracts and grants) and economic criteria. Results indicate that NGOs overall do respond to low per capita incomes. NGOs receiving government funding are more region-neutral while non-government funded NGOs tend to become involved with countries with higher levels of government consumption. Finally, while government funded NGOs are neutral to increases in population, the number of non-government funded NGOs increases with population. In terms of activity choices, the data suggests significant differences in the proportions of NGOs receiving government funding and not receiving funding in the categories “Agriculture/Food Production,” “HIV/AIDS,” “Business Development, Credit”—which all have a higher proportion of government funded NGOS—and “Policy Research and Analysis”—which has a higher proportion of non-funded NGOs.
The scope and scale of post-war violence is often more severe than anticipated. If left unchecked, many fear that complex forms of insecurity can potentially tip ‘fragile’ societies back into armed conflict. A host of conventional security promotion activities are routinely advanced to contend with such violence including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR). There are also many less widely recognised examples of security promoting activities that deviate from – but also potentially reinforce and enhance – DDR and SSR. Innovation and experimentation by mediators and practitioners has led to the emergence of alternative, and in certain cases complementary, approaches to addressing the risks and symptoms of post-war violence including interim stabilization measures and second generation security promotion interventions. Drawing on evidence from a wide variety of settings, the article sets out an array of contextual determinants shaping the character and effectiveness of security promotion on the ground. It then issues a typology of security promotion practices – some that occur before, during and after conventional interventions such as DDR and SSR – offering a sample of entry-points for erstwhile warring parties, mediators, donors and others involved in promoting stability and post-war violence reduction. This typology implies a challenging new research agenda for the growing field of security and development.
The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 highlighted glaring deficiencies in Sri Lanka’s institutionalized framework of disaster management, which the government had been developing since 1996. This report reviews disaster management in Sri Lanka before and after the tsunami and offers recommendations for reform. The study points to a need for clear lines of responsibility among various actors; greater support for community participation and bottom-up approaches; greater focus on disaster risk prevention; and attention to promoting gender equity and to meeting the needs of communities’ most vulnerable members.
In 2006, Oxfam commissioned the Swasti Health Resource Center in Bangalore, India, to study whether the 2004 tsunami and its aftermath increased vulnerability to HIV infection among affected residents of coastal India. Researchers found that such vulnerability did indeed increase in most of the 30 communities studied, primarily because the physical, social, and psychological conditions after the tsunami led to a significant increase in unprotected sex with non-regular sexual partners, especially among people living in temporary shelters. The research team recommends measures that government, local NGOs, and international aid groups can take to minimize the risk of HIV infection among displaced people after major disasters.
The 2004 tsunami had disastrous consequences for entire coastal regions bordering the Indian Ocean. Yet the tsunami’s impact on the affected populations varied according to their pre-disaster vulnerabilities. Specifically, gender roles contributed to the vulnerability of girls and women by limiting their social rights and access to resources. This study, which was conducted by researchers from the Anawim Trust in Tamil Nadu, India, documents ways in which 10 local Indian NGOs brought a gender dimension to their post-tsunami emergency and rehabilitation programs in the state of Tamil Nadu, and it offers recommendations to help local and international NGOs improve their gender mainstreaming efforts at both the programmatic and organizational levels.
The fate of migrants caught up in natural disasters has only come to heightened attention in recent years as a result of calamities like Hurricane Katrina and the Asian Tsunami. These disasters show that migrants are often a forgotten group in crisis situations suffering from very particular forms of disadvantage and discrimination. The juxtaposition of these two cases highlights remarkable commonalities in the migrant experience: despite the fact that these disasters transcend two continents; economic, regional, cultural divides; disparate groups of people; and both the developed and developing world, the fate of Burmese migrants in Thailand following the Tsunami and Latino migrants in the United States after Hurricane Katrina, provides a salutary lesson for disaster planners. It is a warning which merits heeding; given the increasing likelihood of freak weather events resulting from climate change visited on an ever expanding and mobile global population.
The Tsunami hit Thailand’s southern seaboard on the morning of 24 December 2004. A total of 5400 people died but the number of Burmese migrants who were killed or affected remain unknown to this day, conservative estimates suggest 7000 victims [Inter-agency, 2005, 4]. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the US half a year later, on 29 August 2005. It displaced 2 million people, killed 1300, affected some 160,000 migrants (regular and irregular) [NCLR, 2006, 8; Batalova, 2005], and left a trail of damage estimated to cost between US$75-200 billion.
This paper is based on information collected by a desk review of literature on migration and natural disasters materials collected through internet research and email enquiry in 2007. The material was originally collected as part of consultancy assignments on natural disasters and migration carried out for International Organisation for Migration (IOM) [Naik et al, 2007]. The papers resulting from those assignments very briefly touched on the issues raised here, but do not develop the themes covered by this paper or make parallels between the plight of migrants facing disasters in the developing and developed world. The analysis therefore is an original comparison of the impacts of the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina on migrants. The paper is based on documents obtained from: UN agencies, inter-governmental organisations (INGO), human rights organisations, research institutes, sector journals, national non-governmental organizations (NGO), lobby groups, government bodies and press agencies.
The overall aim of this article is to illustrate the recent challenges to humanitarian action caused by the doctrine of the Global War on Terror. Therefore, the first part will give an illustrated overview of how insecurity in the field influences the performance of humanitarian actors and how beneficiaries suffer from this change. A very common perception among the beneficiaries of humanitarian aid, explicitly in conflict zones like Afghanistan and Iraq, is that relief action is conducted and somehow even imposed by foreign states, and therefore humanitarian aid is another tool of western imperialism. The impact of counter-terrorist donor strategies and security concerns of humanitarian actors is described in the second part. The main focus of this article will be: (1) donors policies, (2) action of implementing partners, and (3) beneficiaries.
This paper challenges the traditional view about chronically food insecure populations, in contrast to relief-assisted population, who are often seen as a ‘structural’ or ‘long-term’ problem, meriting neither an emergency nor recovery assistance. The author puts forward three interlinked assumptions related to chronic food insecurity in developing countries: a) investments in agricultural and rural development over the past decades have declined significantly; b) relief interventions have become effective in saving lives but do not go a further step to encourage investment in recovery of disaster affected population and the food insecure; and c) recovery programmes suffer from lack of best practices, absence of institutional means and dedicated financial arrangements.
The problem of chronically food-insecure populations must be recognised nationally and internationally as a priority, and as a distinct economic group with specific political, security and humanitarian dimensions. Nationally led specific institutions and dedicated recovery funds that focus on the chronically food insecure population must be established. This will guarantee recovery for the chronically food insecure populations and for those requiring sustained assistance following a relief measure.
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.