International Medical Corps UK’s Peter Medway welcomed The Department for International Development’s (DfID) White Paper, ‘Building Our Common Future’ this month as a, “step in the right direction.”
The July 6th policy paper emphasized helping fragile and post-conflict states to govern and deliver peace to their citizens by including more support to peace settlements; addressing the causes of conflict and fragility; buttressing security, rule of law and basic services, and; pledging to triple assistance for security and justice worldwide by 2014.
“Fragile states account for one billion people and a third of the world’s poor,” said Michael Haig, DfID spokesperson. “We will never eradicate poverty unless we tackle the issues in these countries.”
DfID plans to close 10 offices by 2011 in countries that have shown significant improvements due to donor assistance, freeing up resources to focus on the most vulnerable.
As an organisation working at the forefront of the health sector, specifically building capacity in some of the least stable and most insecure countries in the world, International Medical Corps has welcomed the UK government’s decision to prioritise support to fragile states.
“International Medical Corps is operating in a host of fragile and post-conflict states,” said Medway. “We know that many of our colleagues in the humanitarian assistance sector are concerned about where the money will come from given the current climate of government spending cuts, but ultimately, the shift in emphasis to provide greater support for fragile states has to be welcomed.”
Director at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Alison Evans was cautious however, warning that, “Often donors create dependency instead of building capacity in weak state institutions, apply heavy-handed rules that can paralyse fragile states, and in worst-case scenarios, do more harm than good.”
Yet with capacity building at the heart of all International Medical Corps programs, Medway is optimistic. “The one thing that cuts across all our programmes is capacity building – it’s what we’re all about. We work with local ministries of health, train local healthcare workers and work to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure of the communities we partner. We hope DfID’s new policy direction will help the countries in which we work to expand and build their own capacity and work towards self-reliance.”