Evaluating the Effectiveness of Short-term Humanitarian Aid
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Social scientists, international aid organizations, governments, and religious groups have conducted extensive research concerning the effectiveness of long-term humanitarian aid. However, there is little research concerning the effectiveness of short-term humanitarian aid. This project is centered on the short-term trips that are sent to Cameroon by a small, U.S. based nonprofit that supports an orphanage in Northwest Cameroon. The purpose of this research project was to identify the issues involved in evaluating short-term humanitarian aid including defining effectiveness, determining unmet needs for evaluation, and exploring the benefits and drawbacks of implementing more formal evaluation methods. The results of a qualitative analysis of the data revealed that both the orphanage and organization are aware of dependency and dominance issues, but there is a mutual understanding of the benefits of having a dominant organization work with the orphanage toward goals of independence. Delivering deep and long-lasting happiness and offering long-term support is an important part of short-term trip effectiveness. Structured goals and the willingness to honestly evaluate short-term trips will enable better evaluation, and the tools used in evaluation must address not only tangible effects but also intangible effects such as improved morale or spiritual development. This project serves as a starting point for future research by identifying some of the key issues and questions involved in evaluating the effectiveness of short-term humanitarian aid.