By Paul Jimbo
James (2008, p.3) lists several definitions of crisis, which are an important precursor to understanding crisis theory.
The core element in each of them is that an individual is overwhelmed.
In his theory, he says, “People are in a state of crisis when they face an obstacle to important life goals–an obstacle that is, for a time, insurmountable by the use of customary methods of problem solving”.
Crisis theory, concerning the causes and consequences of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall in a capitalist system, is now generally associated with Marxist economics.
Earlier analysis by Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi provided the first suggestions of the systemic roots of Crisis.
It says, “The distinctive feature of Sismondi’s analysis is that it is geared to an explicit dynamic model in the modern sense of this phrase”.
In this theory, I will attempt to analyse and argue the links between the Crisis Theory and the reality checks behind humanitarian aid in relation to disasters and calamities.
In early 80’s all through to the early years of the 20th century, HIV/Aids remained the world’s major threat especially to the survival of mankind.
The scourge ravaged homes and villages across the globe forcing world leaders to declare the disease an epidemic.
It claimed lives irrespective of the race and language, from one continent to another and so it was treated as a humanitarian disaster.
Most Non-Governmental Organizations across the globe that focus on humanitarian aid capitalised and cashed in on the HIV/Aids pandemic.
They engaged in awareness creation across vulnerable populations and in Africa, urban set ups suffered the same brunt like rural communities, which suffered more because of high poverty levels and low illiteracy levels.
The NGOs formed during this crisis had a field day, tasks before them included sensitizing populations on the dangers and threats of the HIV/Aids virus.
Having been declared a global threat to the survival of human beings, the World Health Organization (WHO) swiftly lobbied huge resources that would later be channelled through humanitarian aid groups to fight the scourge.
With major breakthrough in awareness creation amongst target groups, infection rates dropped and the spotlight started shifting from HIV/Aids to other humanitarian capacity building thematic areas including affirmative action and gender empowerment.
This debate has been sustained because different regions across the globe find imbalances created through culture, traditions and perceptions.
It all meant that the global attention would shift to capacity building including Maternal Child Health nutrition, disasters such as floods and other natural calamities like droughts and epidemics associated with the disasters. These include cholera, Malaria and typhoid diseases.
However it is important to note that civil society organizations cannot survive without crisis and so certain levels of crisis is necessary for their continuity.
The Global Fund is a coffer that brings together resources for humanitarian aid action and it has to be sustainable as a demonstration of an existence of some crisis at any particular time.
In the wake of the battle against poverty lies some self-inflicted but sustained conflict that requires humanitarian aid.
A closer look at how the war in Iran, the conflict in pockets of the African continent including DRC Congo, West African countries and of recent the Arab uprisings are all but a clear manifestations of how humanitarian crisis can mutate from one form to another.
One would wonder how the US and the world at large invested huge amounts of resources to flash out Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Odhiambo Kony and decades down the line, the LRA leader remains at large. At the end of it the triangle between the Central Africa Crisis, Northern Uganda, parts of South Sudan and a segment of Democratic Republic of Congo remains under constant threat of humanitarian crisis.
Worse still why would the war in Yemen last this long inspite of massive destruction of property and loss of lives under the watch of world super powers like the United States?
The United Nations has invested massive resources in war torn countries like Somalia to handle insecurity and stabilize security situations in countries including South Sudan and Darfur and DRC Congo.
The theory of crisis informs that humanitarian aid situations differs from disaster to the other and has direct links to political instability.
This explains the reason NGOs thrive under crisis especially where there is instability.
The break out of Ebola disease in West Africa saw a major shift from all other funding opportunities to humanitarian aid shifted to tackling the virus that reportedly threatened the survival of mankind.
All emergency relief services related to medical attention were diverted to tackle the spread of Ebola until it was scaled down to manageable levels.
Ebola conspiracy theories indicated that while the world continues to debate whether the disease is a fiction or fact, reality has it that it is a threat to human survival and so a disaster.
Not everything you hear about Ebola is true because there are several myths and conspiracy theories about the spread of the disease including “how some humans ate contaminated carcass of some primates”.
Don’t forget that the HIV/Aids scourge also has a connection with some story around how “some human being has sexual intercourse with some primates”.
These theories of crisis have some threads of arguments along human/wildlife contacts.
We are informed that signs and symptoms of Ebola typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus with a fever, sore throat, muscular pain, and headaches.
During the Ebola disease outbreak in parts of West Africa, most medical practitioners including nurses rushed to the region to offer expertise to civil societies in the health mission.
However the operation lasted longer and its funding was immediately scaled down and most of the experts had to return to their countries. They had made a kill out of the disaster.
In know of a friend who was part of the Wipe Out Ebola campaign in Sierra Leone who made quite a fortune over the five months he served as an epidemic disease consultant. She confesses that such emergencies come with lucrative funding for organizations involved.
Of recent is the Ebola disease outbreak in DRC Congo and one wonders of the connection between the HIV/Aids scourge and the Ebola epidemic.
The major question is why DRC Congo would be only country to consistently become the first to report the continent’s major epidemics.
It simply means that the wider the spread of the Ebola disease, the more humanitarian aid support is needed.
Food for thought, the bigger the crisis the higher the resources allocated to tackle the crisis.
So far, no case of Ebola disease outbreak has been reported in South Sudan, Kenya or Tanzania.
A tip of the iceberg, the recently reported case at the Uganda/DRC Congo-Kasese border case.
Back to the Crisis theory, concerning the causes and consequences of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall in a capitalist system, is now generally associated with Marxist economics.