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Picking up the pieces

Peacebuilding is a word that describes all actions, that promote peace and justice. It includes things like conflict resolution, relief and development work, peace education, demilitarisation and urging governments to take peace and justice building decisions. Peacebuilding is a complex process.

Communities and countries impacted by conflict and war use their own resources to minimise the effect. Often though, the scale of the disruption and the impacts of the war mean local people exhaust their resources and need outside help.

This outside help usually comes from three sources - overseas governments, international agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Other governments - This is called 'bilateral aid' because there are two parties - the government giving the aid and the government receiving it. Bilateral aid is usually for big projects like large shipments of food, or money for rebuilding roads or schools. Some governments also send weapons or troops to help one side in a war overcome their enemy. After the war peacekeepers may arrive to help keep the peace and restore order. Often the assistance is given with 'strings attached' meaning that the giver benefits in some way as a result of helping.

International agencies - This is called 'multilateral aid' because these agencies represent several countries. The biggest multilateral agency is the United Nations (UN). Within the UN there are several organisations which help people affected by war - for example, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP). These agencies use money from their member governments to support emergency relief, peacekeeping troops and other large projects.

Non-governmental organisations - This group is commonly known as NGOs and unlike the other two types of helping organisations, governments do not run them. NGOs are private charities who raise most of their funds from ordinary people who have heard about the needs of others and want to do something to help. Some examples are World Vision, OXFAM, Save the Children, CCF, TEAR fund and the Red Cross. The NGO's use these funds for smaller, grass-roots projects working directly with the people in need. For example while governments and multilateral organisations fund and send large shipments of food, NGOs employ experienced people to distribute the food to those most in need.

     Pros and cons
  1. Imagine you are a government advisor in a country where war has just ended. Complete the table below for the three different types of aid organisations, to help you decide which assistance you will seek to rebuild.
    Type of

    Which type of assistance do you think would be most beneficial to a country rebuilding from war? Give reasons for your answer.