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How has the humanitarian market been restructured to promote sustainable development?

  • By Arnold Muthanga
  • February 2, 2021

Recent and reoccurring deadly weather phenomenon in East Africa, such as Cyclone Idai, and several other pre-existing factors are fueling a rather worsening scenario of unprecedented humanitarian crises. Essentially, natural disasters induced by climate change- a sculpture of anthropogenic activities- disrupt normal markets impeding their self-sustainability. The time required to fix the problems caused by climate change- food shortage, lack of shelter, and water- is longer than the time people can survive in those difficulties. Swift responses are required to save human lives and livelihoods. Humanitarian aid towards sustainable development can be considered as a contingent plan for supplementing markets by containing the arising immediate needs.

Based on the arguments of the unequal international economic system and the amorphous functioning of the capital markets, aid is intended to transfer capital from developed to developing countries. The humanitarian aid regime is dynamic, the long-held rationale is that it has a positive contribution towards recipient countries’ economic policies and resource allocation.

This is by strengthening their institutional, technical, managerial, and administrative capacity through increased capital efficiency. The role of aid is cushioning the poor from the impacts of poverty. However, earlier market support interventions overlooked the criticality of environmental impacts and sustainable development in closing the poverty gap. In concerted efforts to mainstream the role of humanitarian aid towards sustainable development, three overreaching measures were inculcated. First, was setting aside financial and technical resources through tailor-made programs which include pollution management- brown agenda, natural resources- green agenda, and building on national institutions. The second was ‘greening’ the entire investment portfolio by subjecting banks’ lending to environmental assessments.

This is achieved through Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and the development of National Environmental Action Plans. Third, was a paradigm shift towards a participatory development a take-off from the conventional top-down approach. The latter recognized the inadequacies of states in promoting development, therefore seeking new players that would encourage the participation of the local population.

This has led to the involvement of non-governmental and community-based organizations. The private sector too has not been left behind in regards to investing in efficient and innovative enterprises. Kenya Climate Ventures Facility is part of the overall faith in the potential of non-state actors with the basic credo of a redistributive strategy to reconcile environmental goals to those of equity and efficiency.