Overseas Development Aid for Humanitarian Crises: Implications for the Recovery of Shelter and Settlements

Babister, Elizabeth Anne Rosambeau (2022). Overseas Development Aid for Humanitarian Crises: Implications for the Recovery of Shelter and Settlements. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00014c43

Abstract

This interdisciplinary research draws on the fields of international development and political economy. A gap is present in current evidence to support the conceptualisation of humanitarian donorship and specifically the causal links between donorship mechanics and the ability of those affected by crises to recover. This research investigates the question of why it is challenging for donors to align the characteristics of their humanitarian funding with the lived experience of those who lose their shelter and settlements in humanitarian crises. The research takes a qualitative ethnographic approach using primary and secondary data bounded by a case study of Overseas Development Aid (ODA) for the recovery of shelter and settlements. The theoretical framework uses a critical accounting approach based on Miller and Power’s four roles of accounting (Miller & Power, 2013). Miller and Power’s original framework is extended from these accounting roles to include the broader economic practices of humanitarian donorship. This research finds that while donorship with the characteristics of flexibility and a longer-term perspective aligns well with the lived experience of those who lose their shelter and settlements in humanitarian crises, these characteristics are challenging for donors. Exogenous influences incentivise donors towards short-termism, restricting longer-term approaches, and endogenous influences create rigidity in funding processes, preventing flexibility. Together the lack of longer-term approaches and the lack of flexibility contributes to insufficient support to the agency of affected households over the lived experience of the recovery of their shelter and settlements. The research findings inform humanitarian policy and practice and in particular humanitarian donorship for the recovery of shelter and settlements.

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