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The Changing Role of Aid Policy in Protracted Crises

Published paper1

A recent HPG research briefing paper provides an overview of the changing role of aid policy in protracted crises. It starts with the premise that there has been a significant shift in the 'linking relief and development' debate over the past decade and that there has been an expansion of interest by the development community in these environments which presents both opportunities and challenges for humanitarian action. On the one hand greater attention and resources may go to supporting the basic welfare needs of populations living in difficult environments who have historically not received a proportionate level of aid. On the other hand, as the aid landscape in crisis countries becomes increasingly crowded, it may be difficult (particularly for belligerents) to distinguish between the different forms of aid and security being offered by the international community.

The researchers argue that there is evidence suggesting that a shift in the policy environment has resulted in increased spending and activity by development aid actors in countries undergoing protracted crisis. The research looked at a group of 16 countries experiencing protracted crises in Africa, Asia, the Caucasus and Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2002, these 16 countries received $6.3 bn of ODA, the highest level they had ever received. In late 2003 the World Bank had over 80 projects totalling $5.5bn in 13 conflict-affected countries. This is nearly equivalent to the entire official humanitarian aid budget for 2001. The EU has disbursed high levels of development funds over the past decade in countries such as Afghanistan, Angola and Somalia. Commitments made at the Financing for Development conference in Mexico in 2002 together with programmes such as the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria mean that global development aid budgets could continue to grow significantly in those countries that are the primary concern of the humanitarian community.

The study states that "while acknowledging that there is little formally articulated policy, let alone consistently implemented approaches it is possible to identify some important implications arising out of the global trends in international aid in these new environments".

Show footnotes

1HPG (2004): Beyond the continuum. An overview of the changing role of aid policy in protracted crises. HPG Research Briefing, number 16, July 2004

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The Changing Role of Aid Policy in Protracted Crises. Field Exchange 24, March 2005. p8. www.ennonline.net/fex/24/changingrole

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