“Demanding change”

African humanitarian leader to big NGOs: “Be prepared to be uncomfortable”

Degan Ali (center) visits the staff at Adeso’s field station in South Sudan. (Adeso/Facebook)

Degan Ali has a message for humanitarian groups that think they’re doing a great deal of good around the world: do better. “We are demanding change,” Degan Ali, executive director of the Kenyan organization Adeso, told a group of leaders of non-governmental organizations last October. “Be prepared to be uncomfortable.”

Ali is the leader of a coalition of small local humanitarian groups in Africa that she says has been sidelined by the more powerful groups. The smaller groups get just 2 percent of humanitarian funding and must beg for more, she told the group gathered at the World Humanitarian Summit in Geneva in the fall. Instead, Ali would like to see those groups receive 20 percent. Ali’s quest is backed up by research pointing out that agencies have failed to equip and utilize local organizations, according to The Guardian.

“It is humiliating to beg and plead to attend a meeting about your own country and people,” she said. “You have to try and understand the jargon in a room full of white people — who say they know what is best for you. You are like a beggar standing outside, asking and pleading to get through the door.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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