aid industry

Another look inside the aid “industry”

Those in the UK may have heard a recent radio program on BBC 4 called “Inside the Aid Industry” aired on Sunday January 6. In this episode, they visited the slums of Kibera in Nairobi and refer to some of the voices that the Listening Project heard in the same area 5 years ago. Many of the challenges and issues remain the same as when we visited before the last elections. Kenya was one of the places where people openly talked about the “aid industry”, with so many organizations based there to support operations in the region, and a high “mortality rate” of local organizations set up to win contracts but which had no constituency and too often did not do the work. While there is definitely a need for far greater accountability, the mere presence of so many aid agencies, many of whom do not operate in Kenya, has surely raised expectations – and questions.

I was struck by the numerous comments of those inside the “aid industry” about why major reforms have not been fully implemented and why so many attempts to change the way aid has been provided have not borne fruit. As we highlight in our book, Time to Listen, people want smarter aid, not necessarily more of it. And they want to be far more engaged in the decision-making process to be sure that it truly supports their interests, not just those of the donors, and that it is accountable. They also talk about the role of corruption and their governments, something that this programme did not focus on enough.

Listen for yourself and share your ideas. You can hear the first episode online and programme two goes out next Sunday Jan 13 at 1.30pm on BBC Radio 4.


By Dayna Brown, Listening Program Director, CDA