Break-out session: Real people, real problems: Are aid interventions helping recovery?

Paul Harvey (Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium), Bram Peters (Master's student International Development WUR) and Hans van den Hoogen (Humanitarian director Oxfam Novib) share their views on this important question. Is there a mismatch between the challenges people face in crises and what aid agencies can offer, and what can be done about this?

Moderator: Johan te Velde (Double Loop). Break-out rounds 1 & 2.

Paul Harvey confirms the necessity of context sensitivity when he points out that there is lack of imagination and ambition in the design and execution of programmes for livelihood recovery.

In the first break-out round, the session then includes a short film about a food security project of ZOA in Uganda, which illustrates that even though it appears as if there are commonalities in the challenges people face, one common solution might not be suitable for all.

In the second break-out round, the place of the film was taken by Bram Peters, who shows us the pitfalls of needs aggregation in recovery programs: individuals will have different personal goals that may or may not conflict with the programme design.

Hans van den Hoogen illuminates the audience by reminding us that aid by NGOs is only a small part of all aid and that aid itself is only a small part of the recovery process at large. Much more is needed than aid: recovery needs an enabling environment.

Largely in line with this last point, the discussion revolves around the mismatch between development programmes and humanitarian aid: how do we know what type of aid we need at what moment? Underlying this problem, the audience argues, is the mismatch between institutional interests and NGO priorities. Such inertia is problematic in recovery: perhaps we should use the NGO as a linkage between the private sector and those in need?

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