I’ve talked about Gifts-in-Kind – that notorious GIK – a number of different times on this blog. And of course I’m not the only one. Alanna, Saundra, Bill & Laura, and plenty of others have also voiced critique of GIK programming at different times.
It’s not that I’m patently against GIK. There are instances when it works and works well. And just to be clear, in this post I am talking about the kind of GIK that comes new by the palate or container or ship load from the corporations that manufacture and distribute it as their core business. (I am patently against shipping loads of miscellaneous used stuff to disaster zones for relief distribution.)
It is a reality that relief programs in the field need stuff. Those relief supplies, those NFIs, all the component parts of all of those different kinds of kits we hand out. All that stuff has to come from somewhere, and if someone can give it to us to save us from having to buy it, then so much the better. And so, on the face of it all, there is most definitely scope, in theory, for GIK arrangements to work out very well.
For me it all comes down to two main principles. In my opinion, if you can deliver GIK within these parameters I don’t have an issue:
GIK cannot (or should not) drive program design. Programs need to be designed based on evidence gathered through assessments, surveys and the like. The data – that evidence – then tells you what is change is needed and, by extension, what kinds of stuff are needed.
Do your assessment. Understand the needs. Plan an appropriate response. The need for GIK is driven by what’s needed to implement the planned response. Not the other way around.
Defining field needs in terms of the GIK on offer is bad aid, straight up. Don’t do it.
We need what we need. We don’t need something kind of like the thing that we need. We don’t need something totally different but that, with a little or a lot of imagination, could be used to sort of serve the same purpose as the thing that we need. No. We need what we need.
Don’t take inappropriate or substandard or just plain the wrong stuff just because it’s available.