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Patronage or Partnership: Local Capacity Building in Humanitarian Crises

Ian Smillie
Kumarian Press, IDRC

Available formats

Much has been written about the need to build local capacities in emergency and postemergency situations. Many relief programs, however, remain characterized by externality: in their funding, accountabilities, approach to management, and dependence upon expatriate staff. Reality often flies in the face of stated policy and good intentions. In reality, strengthening local capacity is easier said than done, and there are real tradeoffs between outsiders doing something right now in the midst of an emergency, on the one hand, and building longer term local skills, on the other.

This book examines this dilemma from various local perspectives, through eye-opening case studies from Bosnia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Sri Lanka. In doing so, it finds real hope and real possibilities amidst the prevailing rhetoric and confusion.

The editor

Ian Smillie, an Ottawa-based consultant and writer, has worked for more that 30 years in the field of international development, He has managed large development enterprises in Canada, Africa, and Asia and has written extensively on the subject of nongovernmental organizations. He is a leader in the global effort to curb “conflict diamonds.” Smillie has been associated with the Humanitarianism and War Project since 1997.