Building and Busting Trust in Humanitarian Action

van Praag, N.
Publication language
Date published
09 Dec 2019
Conflict, violence & peace, Working in conflict setting, Engaging with affected populations, Evidence, Forced displacement and migration, Refugee Camps, humanitarian action, Humanitarian Principles

Jack Barbalet, in his study on trust and its consequences, argues that trust between people requires vulnerability to the possibility that trust can be broken. The greater the power imbalance, the greater the vulnerability. Karen Cook, professor of sociology at Stanford University, argues that people affected by crisis compensate for this uncertainty by hoping they won’t be let down. In other words, what we thought was a question that probes the level of trust between aid providers and aid recipients may actually reflect a sense of hope rather than trust.

How, then, to measure trust in humanitarian action? Most people in crisis want, above all, to take back control of their lives. If standing on their own feet is at the top of their wish list, delivering on it is a good litmus test of trust in aid providers. To understand whether this is the case, we asked aid recipients whether they felt enabled by the aid they received to live without it in the future.

van Praag, N.