The Long Term Approach to International Aid Development

"Tired of Starving Children Photos?" That was the title of a recent story on AlertNet, a humanitarian news website. It brought to light the delay in procuring aid in advance of a predicted drought and subsequent famine in 2011.

Year-long warnings of a coming drought in the Horn of Africa and its potential catastrophic repercussions were well documented. Yet according to the article, official government declarations of a famine came too late. Four months too late. By the time international aid arrived, up to 100,000 had died of starvation - half of them children. The article asks "Why is it that, time and again, funding is not provided to respond to a hunger crisis until pictures of starving children are seen in the world press?"

Dependent on Emergency Aid

The unfortunate reality is, despite their best efforts, governments, donors, and international relief organizations must overcome multiple obstacles - logistics, politics, and cumbersome regulations, among them - before they can mobilize and deliver aid. However, more often than not, the international aid community makes a truly remarkable and monumental effort to secure aid and provide relief, when and where it's needed. The task of gathering and delivering resources and manpower is an extraordinary undertaking even under the best of circumstances. And even more so, when racing against the clock or in unpredictable situations - a natural disaster or war zone, for example.

But how often can organizations and governments be counted on to deliver "just-in-time" aid to stricken areas? There is no obvious answer or magical solution, but there is a proven strategy to lessen the dependence of lesser-developed populations on emergency relief.

Prevention vs. Cure

In the past 50 years the number of children who die every year from hunger, malnutrition, and disease has decreased from 20 million to less than 8 million. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half in the same time frame. That still leaves some staggering numbers to overcome, but the improvement is significant. These results came about for many reasons, but key among them was the focus on anticipating and preventing crises rather than simply shipping emergency aid.

In For The Long Haul

At Planet Aid, emphasis is placed on long-term programs to address the underlying cause of the problem or issue. Multi-year support of programs that address education deficits, health concerns, food security issues, and lack of job skills, are hallmarks of Planet Aid's mission. Having a consistent in-country presence, year-in and year-out, in the same villages and communities is essential to the organization's steady, but measurable progress.

Commitment to Mission

While other higher profile aid programs may gain more media and public attention, Planet Aid continues to deliberately move forward in areas where it has earned the trust and recognition of the local community. Those who work with and depend on Planet Aid know they can count on the longevity of the organization's programs and commitment. By carefully deploying its available resources, leveraging its local knowledge, and building upon its core competencies, Planet Aid has successfully established itself as a preferred partner among international foundations, other aid organizations, and national governments.

Proven Track Record

For the past 15 years, Planet Aid-supported programs have built and staffed schools, established on-going health initiatives, and helped train farming cooperatives to address the fundamental issues that face local populations every day. Individuals who attended Planet Aid-funded schools as children are now returning to their villages to teach a new generation after graduating from one of 26 teacher training colleges which Planet Aid supports. This has resulted in over 3,000 new teachers entering the education system every year. The same is true of agricultural and vocational programs supported by Planet Aid. Knowledge and resources introduced by Planet Aid and its partners have been passed through to new generations of farmers and workers over the years, thanks to Planet Aid's consistency of mission.