TThe cut in the UK aid budget amounts to some £ 4 billion a year. Such a dramatic reduction is a blow to many, but especially to local organizations that are permanently in the last row to receive funding.
New research The Vodafone Foundation reveals that too often only a small proportion of philanthropic funding for African development reaches local African-led civil society organizations. In contrast, most development funds favor intermediaries in the global north and international organizations.
Funding reaching Africa is typically distributed among locally registered international NGO counterparts and then allocated to African-led organizations on a project basis. This limits the scope and flexibility of activities on the ground and promotes dependency on aid, rather than transformative and lasting change.
A year has passed since the racial reckoning that erupted after George Floyd’s murder. At the time, I wrote that calls for racial justice on the streets, in government offices, and in boardrooms must be extended to the international development sector.
One year later, the funding report is a sobering reminder that the racial biases and micro-aggressions I have experienced as an African leader and CEO are deeper, more pernicious and prevalent than even I, someone who experiences this every day. , I understood.
To respond and rebuild, racial bias must be replaced by trust, the redistribution of power, the recognition of a global bias against blacks, and flexible funding.
During Covid-19, we have seen the power of local actors to effectively respond to the pandemic and protect marginalized communities, where top-down institutions have failed. Somehow, Covid-19 has blurred the lines between humanitarian aid, as it is traditionally known, and long-term development work.
For example, my organization, Bright hope for communities (Shofco), was found by independent researchers to be the most recognized responder to the pandemic in Kenyan informal settlements in 2020. Despite the fact that Shofco is not a humanitarian agency, we had our boots on the ground and worked with community leaders to mobilize a rapid response to Covid-19, reaching 2.4 million urban slum dwellers with health screenings, food aid, clean water, cash support and more. Perhaps the deep community trust that organizations like mine have built is the true enabler for long-term change. We need the industry to put real funds behind the idea that upcoming leaders better understand the problems and therefore the solutions.
During Covid, we are seeing the walls fall in the sector. In the future, all development actors are expected to know how to respond to crisis situations. For this reason, it has never been more important for development funders to loosen restrictions and increase flexible financing for local partners. It is imperative that we reshape the development sector, putting local actors at the center, where they are best placed to respond. As my mother has always told me: “Whoever wears shoes knows where to tighten.”
As the pandemic continues and deepens the inequality gap around the world, local professionals and marginalized communities on the ground have run out of patience for platitudes, debates, or lengthy strategic planning processes.
We are also out of patience for empty promises to “do better” or “examine bias” without significant changes in funding and donor accountability.
International donors and policy makers must make immediate and demonstrable efforts to shift power, resources, and decision-making to local organizations that are attuned to community-level realities and partnerships, and capable of acting in concert. real time, towards the change that is communal. -driven.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism