• Ruta Naujokaite
The Haiti 2010 Earthquake was used as a case study to test how the competition between NGOs might affect the quality of humanitarian aid delivery. Emergency situations attract donations, and the influx of these funds increases incentives for pursuing narrow quantitative goals that measure project success for donors, rather than focusing on quality delivered for those the projects are meant to serve. The question presented is: How do increased flows of donor contributions influence NGO behavior? To measure the quality of humanitarian response, the humanitarian principle of impartiality was used. “It dictates that humanitarian action responds to the most pressing needs for assistance as a matter of priority irrespective of political, ethnic, religious and other interests. For humanitarian organizations, correctly assessing the urgency and intensity of the needs for assistance is thus a pre-condition for the impartial delivery of aid” (2016, pp.154). To study the primary drivers of and outcomes of NGO competition after the Haitian earthquake between 1 January 2010 and 1 January 2012, Porter’s Five Forces framework and Humanitarian economics theory were used. On the one hand, securing the funds is a vital task for any NGO. Organizations must prove to their donors, via project proposals or public campaigns, that they can deliver the aid more competently than others. On the other hand, NGOs declare humanitarian values as the core mission of their work and are committed to impartiality and neutrality in these emergencies, not to serve donors in far off countries. Through the past few decades NGOs have transformed their behaviour from humanitarian organizations to somewhat business-like entities. This behaviour can be explained by studying the incentives and constraints produced by the international donor environment. As all NGOs compete for the same project funds, the incentive for competition is quite high. I argue that the humanitarian market for services has inherent flaws that in the long-term lead to a worsening rather than an alleviating effect on human suffering. Furthermore, some examples of somewhat problematic standard practices in the humanitarian field are highlighted. Numerous instances have illustrated, due to competition for donations, NGOs are motivated to show results to their donors at the expense of quality service to the local community. Many had failed to incorporate prevention and preparedness, contributed to degrading government performance, economy, contributed to a brain drain to better paying NGOs, and excluded government and local NGOs from the decision-making process. A study of camp building illustrates that a practical understanding of when humanitarian aid should cease, and development aid should begin is not part of NGO standard practice. Haiti remained stuck in limbo between the emergencies and increased humanitarian aid did not have a substantial ameliorating effect on the population. Further, competition between NGOs had a direct influence toward contributing to long-term structural problems.

Haiti, earthquake, humanitarian, aid, humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence
SpecialisationGlobal Refugee Studies
Publication date1 Sept 2018
Number of pages50
ID: 280195317