Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Give TODAY to Care Foundation Pakistan

Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) has a great op-ed in The International News (Pakistan) that quite incisively corrects for the overstatements in my previous post:

Zaidi starts with the following observation:
Casual observers could easily conclude that first, under the Musharraf regime, and now under the democratic government of the PPP, Pakistan has been reduced to a rentier or beggar state (or both). The country is incapable of meetings its own needs and constantly needs to seek help with the bills. Of course, this kind of an observation would have to be made by people who are either deliberately ignoring the circumstances that have produced the current situation, or who are plain, outright ignorant. Three very large and very important shocks have rocked the Pakistani economic system in recent years-natural catastrophes, violent conflict, and global price shocks. While most countries can claim to have been victimized by one of these, and perhaps some can claim to have been victimized by two, there is hardly any country on the planet that has had to take on all three kinds of shocks at the same time. Perhaps most crushingly, these challenges have been thrust on Pakistan in a global environment where the narrative of Pakistan is of a country that is fully responsible for every problem that afflicts it (true but only partly), and therefore deserves, deserves to be left to solve those problems itself (not true at all).
He then notes that aid comes in many forms, from many sources:
The most important division we need to understand is the division between humanitarian assistance and development assistance. For most practitioners, this distinction holds limited value in a country like Pakistan, where so much of the recent assistance to Pakistan has been humanitarian, and where a lot of the “development” assistance, has been supplanted, or replaced by humanitarian programmes.
The bottom line:
The most important distinction for a country that is the size of Pakistan, and with the kinds of problems Pakistan faces, is who the aid is being given to. Aid can be provided to governments, or it can be provided to non-state actors-such as contractors, firms, and civil society groups. Government aid itself can be of several kinds, including budget support, and project aid.
Without understanding these distinctions, and knowing who is giving what, and to whom, the national conversation about international aid or foreign assistance is largely a rhetorical jousting session, not serious policy discourse.
All of which is to say that being a critic of official development assistance (as I am!) is not inconsistent with getting online to give today to Care Foundation Pakistan or other effective organization working to assist the millions of victims of Pakistan's recent floods.

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