Giving Compass' Take:
- The author provides an overview Matthew Green's insights on holding large-scale charities and NGOs (like Oxfam) accountable for their abuse of power in development work.
- Green offers the solution that developing countries build their own nonprofits and NGOs, but Wooster makes the point of asking,"Who would fund them?" What do you think would be an effective model for development work? And how do we hold people already doing the work accountable for their actions and aware of the power dynamics at play?
- Read more about accountability in aid sector in regard to the Oxfam scandal.
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Matthew Green, a former reporter for the Financial Times and Reuters and the author of Aftershock, points out in a long piece for the Financial Times, the Oxfam scandals are the beginning and not the end of the story.
But the problem here is that these large organizations have things poor people need—money, food, clothes, housing. They therefore have power over the poor, and far too many aid workers abuse it. “There can be no question,” Green writes, “that this ecosystem” of aid to Third World disasters “has saved countless lives and done enormous good. But there can be few other enterprises founded on such high moral principles that are so prone to unleashing unintended consequences, and where genuine impulses towards compassion can blur into something less noble.”
But Green, who covered the Ugandan conflict as a Reuters correspondent in Nairobi, says the real atrocities were not those committed by Kony, but by the Ugandan military opposing Kony, who placed two million Ugandans “into what were effectively open-air prisons, where families crammed into desperate, squalid conditions were forcibly prevented from farming, pushing their children to the verge of starvation.
Green argues that what the Oxfam scandal should be exposing is the notion that the best way to help poor people suffering from crises in the Third World is to have giant nonprofits, headed by highly compensated experts, helicopter in to a country and direct badly-compensated underlings until the crisis is resolved.
It’s far better, he says, for Third World countries to develop their own nonprofits to deal with their own disasters.
Read the full article about the dark side of large-scale aid by Martin Morse Wooster at Philanthropy Daily