Humanitarian Aid

What’s the Difference Between Short and Long-Term Solutions?

World Concern
November 10th, 2018

International aid is not “one size fits all.” There are many opinions about the benefits and drawbacks of both short and long-term aid. But despite the different views, in much of our work both are needed.

Why a Short-Term Solution Worked for Husen

a boy is screened for malnutrition in Somalia

Husen was malnourished and in need of food right away. In Somaliland, however, due to the severe drought crops are not able to grow. What Husen needed was emergency relief—immediately.

This immediate boy is screened for malnutrition in Somalia.’

These packets, a little bigger than the size of a protein bar, are filled with a peanut butter-like paste containing essential vitamins, healthy fats, and minerals that a child needs to grow. There are even different versions of these packets depending on how malnourished a child is and how old they are.

Different versions of these packets

A child consumes one nutripacket per day. Husen, three years old, was one of the older children to receive nutripackets. His mother was given a box that would last Husen about a month, after which he would come back to the clinic for a checkup.

Why Long-Term Solutions are Important

a woman waters her farm in rural Kenya

Suluha lives in the Tana River Region of Kenya, where crops are able to grow in season. But when the floods came, Suluha’s harvest washed away and she was left with nothing. Kale, tomatoes, bananas, goats, and most of her home were gone.

Her eyes filled with tears as she recounted returning home after the waters subsided. “The other part [of her land] that was left was full of silt, making it unsuitable for farming. Only a small portion was good for cultivation.”   

Not all was lost. With a portion—albeit small—of land that was ready for farming, Suluha received seeds and other tools through one of World Concern’s farmers’ groups. Farmers’ groups, like the one Suluha is a part of, have around 20-30 members who train one another, plant, harvest, and sell crops together.

Each member benefits from being part of a group as not only can they plant a wider variety of grains and vegetables, but can also produce much more than they could alone. Slowly but surely, Suluha is regaining what she lost as her seedlings begin to sprout.

How World Concern Works to Equip  Families

At that moment Husen’s family, if given seeds, farming tools, and training, wouldn’t be able to grow their own crops—the ground is too dry and without water, nothing would grow. Husen would have to wait until either the vegetables grew or the rains returned to have food to eat and, according to Husen’s mom, he couldn’t wait that long.

two men working in a vegetable garden in Kenya

If Suluha’s family were given nutripackets after the flooding instead of seeds, she wouldn’t have the wealth of knowledge she has now to become self-sufficient. Her family would become dependent on nutripackets instead of learning farming best practices.

Both immediate and long-term development are necessary, depending on the context. World Concern seeks to walk alongside communities until they are able to sustain themselves, and that often means meeting urgent, critical needs and addressing long-term issues with lasting solutions.

To learn more about how World Concern responds to feed and equip hungry families, visit: