“GiveDirectly wasn’t the first humanitarian aid group to implement no-strings-attached cash, either. Degan Ali, executive director of Adeso, a Nairobi-based NGO, started an unconditional cash transfer program in Somalia in 2003. She first suggested unconditional cash because the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) was handing out food that didn’t align with the local culture. “The food that WFP was giving to these people was being given to livestock [by the recipients],” she says. “They weren’t eating it because [the WFP was] giving them grains. They were giving them maize. And they don’t eat that. They eat rice and pasta.”
Ali adds that Western humanitarian aid has an ugly and racist history of bulldozing local needs in favor of solutions that don’t actually work. Eventually, she says, she’d like to see citizens thrive on their own instead of depending on foreign organizations like GiveDirectly. “At some point you need to transition from unconditional transfers and figure out how to get people long-term employment,” she says.”
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Degan Ali, our Executive Director, is quoted in a recent Forbes article on cash transfers. Though cash transfers are critical in emergency situations, like the current drought in Somalia, Adeso’s long-term goal for aid is to reinvigorate the local economy and transition to longer-term economic growth. Read more from the article here