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— Philip Gourevitch responds to criticism of his New Yorker article examining “the moral hazards of humanitarian aid.”

He mentions This American Life’s excellent show on relief aid in Haiti. I would also point you to listen to Krista’s interview with Binyavanga Wainaina for a deeper look at the ethics of aid in Kenya.

[h/t publicradiointernational]


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2 Comments

Or consider your program A Different Kind of Capitalism with Jacqueline Novogratz which also examines a different model of responding to poverty and the people affected by it. She too asks some hard questions while experimenting with a different approach.

I'd look at the question's inverse to understand it better; "What's not to be done?" Success--"victory"--is uncertain; the way is not clear and there are real obstacles. So... because we don't know precisely how to go forward, and whether we can (or will) succeed, is nothing to be done?

Or is the attempt self-justifying in itself? Gourevitch's article on the effect of humanitarian aid reads more (to me) as a criticism of how it's been done, not the intent. Good intentions, badly implemented. The thing then is to learn from those failures and to then craft humanitarian responses that aren't "aid" but "collaboration."