Having been associated with global development and relief aid programs in some way for over 33 years, I have seen individuals and communities respond to long term help in decreasingly positive ways over time. Much has been written about how aid hurts rather than helps and development programs create dependency. To a degree these statements are correct, if done incorrectly. Billions of dollars have been spent to build infrastructures for aid, including distribution networks, equipment, local and global staffing, food/medicine/technology aid materials equipment and supplies. Have people been helped? Absolutely. Have they been harmed? Yes.
The relief and development community has unfortunately in many cases, over time, put programs, process, and funding ahead of people. This is not to say we must stop doing relief and development, i.e. throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. There will always be a need for emergency relief and aid due to natural and human disasters and catastrophic weather events. It is just that we must not continue to use expensive existing delivery systems and processes, and we must first consider where we can use the local human capacity, the human potential that is available even in the midst of human suffering...
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David L. Neely
David is Operations and Outreach Pastor for Blue Valley Baptist Church in Overland Park, Kansas. He and his wife Phyllis have three daughters.. David holds a B.S. in Education from the University of Oklahoma. He studied evangelism and missions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prior to receiving a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies at Trinity Theological Seminary.