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As COVID-19 wrought havoc across the world, expat aid workers were on the move. Not flying into the developing world, but flying home.
Some aid experts view this mass evacuation as a harbinger for change in the way foreign aid is delivered. With fewer expat aid workers on the ground in developing countries, there is an opportunity for local agencies to claim, ‘greater ownership over humanitarian responses and development cooperation’, and for the aid industry to fund local actors to support locally led response. COVID-19 has the potential to boost ‘localisation’: local control over international aid.
That’s certainly a positive, but ABM has been using a strongly localised approach for decades. As a church agency, ABM has an approach that already devolves power and funding to our local partners in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. What makes us different?
Today, as COVID-19 threatens to destroy families and economies across the developing world, ABM’s partners are on the front line. They are providing water basins and soap at designated community meeting points in Kenya, using previously trained psycho-social counsellors to conduct COVID-19 awareness raising in Zambia, delivering soap, rice and sardines to households in the Philippines, installing water supply systems in PNG and Vanuatu, and bringing COVID-19 posters and personal protection equipment to communities in Myanmar.
ABM’s localised way of working has given our projects geographical reach and high levels of trust in even the most remote communities. And our way of working continues to deliver results to communities in the fight against COVID-19.
* Many ABM programs are partly funded by Australian Aid.