This week UK MPs have criticised delays in getting international aid to victims of last year’s floods in Pakistan. The Commons International Development Committee revealed that of the $1.9 billion called for by the UN, only about two thirds, approximately $1.2 billion, had been received by January this year, and just $720 million had actually reached the victims. The news that aid for Pakistan’s flood victims was late or never arrived feels depressingly familiar. All too often it seems that governments and organisations responding to a humanitarian emergency face criticism because their aid doesn’t reach the people it was meant to, isn’t coordinated, or isn’t spent effectively.
This is a common problem and the challenges that beset humanitarian aid efforts are also present in non-emergency aid, even though this is perhaps less headline grabbing. If donors provided more information about the aid they give, then recipient governments would also be able to plan better, and citizens in both giving and receiving countries could start to hold their governments and aid agencies to account.
If donors sort out the transparency of their aid, they will be in a much better position to coordinate efforts when responding under pressure in an emergency. Hopefully then we will have to read fewer stories like this recent one on Pakistan.