Thomas Donnelly: Security Not Just for Donors But for Poor People Too

    The discussions on the link between development and national security should now pave the way for discourse on how aid can meet the security needs of not just donor countries but also the poor and vulnerable, says an expert.

    “We should not fall into the trap of assuming that ‘security’ is only a concern for donors: it is also something poor people want, and which aid has a crucial role in delivering,” writes Thomas Donnelly, an advocacy and policy officer for international non-governmental organization Saferworld and contributor to the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog.

    Donnelly says that what’s not being discussed is how “aid can best promote security and access to justice for poor people as development goals in their own right,” whether in volatile countries such as Somalia or Afghanistan, or in sturdier states where judicial processes or police services may still be repressive.

    He cites the landmark 1994 Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Program, which changed the concept of “human security.”

    Donnelly says the notion of security all over the world has broadened - from potential conflict between nations to worries about jobs, income, health, environment and other concerns in daily life.

    “So what should we be doing? ‘Security’ is a public good that people in developing countries want and deserve just as much as anyone else. But communities must be given the opportunity to define their own vision of that security. In some places it may mean ending violent attacks and rape, but in others it could mean dangerous traffic, school safety, armed cattle rustling or run-down, poorly lit streets,” he adds. 

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    About the author

    • Louie-An Pilapil

      Louie-An is a former senior development analyst at Devex Manila. She has held consulting and editorial positions at the Asian Development Bank in Manila and a business-to-business media company in Hong Kong and mainland China.