A recent report by the World Bank reiterates the widely held view that donor agencies commit large amounts of funding in the immediate post-conflict phase, only for funding to taper off to more "normal" levels once the crisis is over. The World Bank criticizes this phenomenon, referred to as "frontloading," and claims that it damages the prospects of economic growth, which in turn undermines the peace.
This chapter argues that the Bank's analysis is flawed because it does not distinguish between commitments and disbursements, or take sufficiesnt account of other factors influencing aid patterns over time in different settings. Moreover, the link between official aid and post-war economic performance is only of marginal significance. Any critique of aid policies must be based on detailed analysis of what is delivered rather than what is promised, and of the impact of donors' assistance on the ground, argues Suhrke and Buckmaster in Development and Humanitarianism. Practical Issues which addresses these and other dilemmas that aid agencies face in interpreting the principles of humanitarianism in contexts where they risk being manipulated by political agendas. Humanitarian intervention invariably rubs shoulders with politics, albeit awkwardly and sometimes even with tragic results. Tensions between them take many forms, ranging from different assessments of the extent or even the existence of a crisis to claims that humanitarian assistance is not saving innocent lives but sustaining politico-military forces, or to the conclusion that the constraints upon them compel aid agencies to withdraw from the area of operation completely - whether to ensure the safety of their own staff or because they believe that their integrity is unacceptably compromised by staying.
The contributors have extensive experience as frontline aid workers, agency policy makers, academics and researchers, and professional consultants around the world. Like every book in the Development in Practice Readers series, Development and Humanitarianism draws on the contents of the acclaimed international journal, Development in Practice and includes an annotated resource list of recent publications, relevant journals, organizations and websites presenting a cutting-edge guide to thinking and action.
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