|Disaster Management Ethics (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - United Nations Development Programme , 1997, 70 p.)|
|TOPIC 2 Providing humanitarian assistance to displaced populations and refugees|
Top down planning is unethical as well as ineffective.
The appropriateness of interventions and the efficiency of their implementation is enhanced by the participation of beneficiaries. However, securing participation remains difficult because of bureaucratic pressures by donors on assistance agencies. Further, because of the timeliness required to meet emergency needs, it is difficult for outside institutions to identify representatives of different sectors of a displaced population, particularly in a chaotic or politically tense situation.
The greatest institutional pressures in emergencies involve coordinating the efforts of UN agencies, international and local NGOs, as well as the national government and its various ministerial and local governmental institutions. In contexts of conflict and confusion between the major actors, it is hardly surprising that little consideration is given to beneficiary perspectives. Information is collected through rapid field visits, often involving short-term consultants whose knowledge of aid delivery systems is often much greater than it is of refugee experiences, livelihood strategies, and the local context. This leads to the multiplication and persistence of relief system models conceived by technocrats generally unaware of the significance of local factors and the extent to which the knowledge and skills of the displaced people can be a major resource.
Such top down planning is unethical well as ineffective. It can be countered from the outset, through the involvement of local institutions and expertise, the posting of senior staff with appropriate social and linguistic skills at the real field level, the use of participatory research, and the prioritizing of early identification of leaders among the refugee population. The introduction or recognition of democratically elected and civil society institutions should also occur as quickly as possible and be included in the discussion of actual policies as well as in the arrangement of its implementation.