Can Cash Lead the Revolution That the Humanitarian System So Badly Needs?
Recently, in a Liberian refugee camp, I met Christelle, a young mother who was recovering from the violence and insecurity in her home country of Côte d’Ivoire. In our discussions, she didn`t want to talk about her needs for shelter, psychosocial support, or the any of the humanitarian challenges I had come prepared to discuss. Instead, Christelle spoke of the unfamiliar food she had been given during an aid distribution, and the lack of options to feed her children. “My children are getting sick. I don’t know how to cook this, I need rice – please,” she said.
This encounter was a stark reminder that, in spite of many successful efforts to improve its efficiency, the international humanitarian system is still not good enough at anticipating or supporting the many different decisions and choices that individuals in crisis need to make every day.
As the world’s humanitarian needs continue to grow, so do the number of humanitarians criticising the traditional model that aid is built on. There are suggestions that the current relief system is outdated, perhaps even obsolete.
We need to do better. Is it possible for us to improve our ability to meet current and future demands, and do so in a way that both empowers people and also reduces costs and layers of bureaucracy? One possible solution gaining momentum is cold, hard cash.