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A Worldwide Groundswell is Needed

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Training Handout

Mobilizing the World


A worldwide groundswell of concern about correcting how aid is delivered sounds like a daunting goal. Is it?

The argument here is that there is an important role for activists and mobilisers; it can succeed


Although we can not predict if it will happen or not, or how, we can get encouragement from the environmental movement.

Back in 1968 in Vancouver, I witnessed the launch of a tiny organization called SPEC, which was concerned about the polution of the environment.

Today, after the joining of the movement by the likes of David Suzuki and Al Gore, we have a worldwide groundwell of envitonmental concern.

Powerful vested interests, led by the oil companies and the auto manufacturers, put their full corporate weight behind a program of disinformation and denial.

Mother Nature joined in, and gave us startling evidence of global warming, which was even denied by gullible targets of that disinformaton reaction.

The environmenatal movement has not yet completely finished or won, but it is clear there is now worldwide concern.

So that is something that took over forty years.

And there is more immediate concern of everybody who will be affected by this than those who are directly affected by international aid.


The movement to correct international aid will need a few things:

It will need a few Al Gores and Davic Suzukis.

It will need many scientists to research the current problem.

It will need time, perhaps much more than the environmental movement is using.

It will need media to get on board to publicise disasters and f&%#ups.


The movement has a few things available to it that were not around in 1968:

Most importantly, the Internet.


What we need is a strategy:

For those who hear about aid, there is at least a general and vague concern that something is wrong with it. We need to build on that.

Decision makers felt no negqative feedback for using the charity approach. We need to find ways to provide that necessary feedback to them.

We need to recruit mobilisers. Thousands of them. Now.

We need to cultivate allies in the media, in governments, in education.

We need to encourage the formation of many pro movement groups.

We need to avoid a too doctrinaire approach, or rigid rules and interpretations.

We need to be aware of and prepared to counteract the reactionaries with their vested interests.

We need to curb our vocabulary, and avoid words like "reactionary." [smile]

We should avoid making this a single organization. Better to organize many small organizations.

We need to think positively and to give each other encouragement and praise.


Because the solution is not one single organization, but many small groups working locally, there is a special need for monitoring the process, and informing all about how it is doing, and what is next needed at each step along the way.

Since any changes in direction, and vision for further steps is important for all, several monitors are needed, and ways that their observations can be seen and heard by all. Eqachmonitor should concentrate on the groundwell of popular concern, and make means, through pubic broadcasting and the internet, to keep all the local organizations informed.


The way that aid is delivered is seriously wrong. It causes more poverty rather than lowering it. To correct this problem requires a major rethinking of aid, for sustainable development rather than as charity. and requires major restructuring and changes in ways of operating, especially by the donor agencies and by the host country governments and their civil services.

This paper, as part of a training programme for activists and mobilisers, suggests that those major changes can only come about by a world wide groundswell of concern that will affect the decision makers among donors and recipients of aid. It p[oints the way to make those changes

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© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
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Last update: 2012.08.29

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