The impact of the Tump election

Posted on: November 10, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

Yes, November 8th happened.

We have a new President-elect here in the United States by the name of Donald Trump.  Reading about his recent meeting with President Obama was a challenge for many, perhaps acutely so for Vice-President Biden. Though many here are jumping on the #notmypresident bandwagon, the democratic process will move forward and on January 20th, 2017 Trump will be sworn into office, having already moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

trumpYes, I get the irony. Pennsylvania was indeed part of the ‘blue wall’ that crumbled.

My personal and professional responses have been many, but I find myself wanting to know how aid and development workers around the world see this event.  In the last few days I have talked with colleagues and friends on four continents and the near universal reaction to the Trump “upset” is stunned fear.

Some blog sites have some very insightful posts up right now that are very good reads. poses some good questions, and adds good points of departure for thought, discussion and possible action, for example.  Just after the election Goats and Soda published From AIDS To Zika: Trump On Global Health And Humanitarian Aid.  This IRIN piece  “Who’s afraid of Mr Trump” contains some valuable insight and useful hard numbers.  Spoiler: the answer to their rhetorical question is the entire sector.

Those are other’s thoughts, but what are yours?  What do aid and development workers like you think about how this election result will impact them in their work and in their personal lives?  I hope to get many more answers to that question with a short survey.  Please take the time to respond, and I’ll be posting results as they come in.

Preliminary survey results
From the results thus far here’s what one industry insider said,

“The immediate challenge I see is the potential impact on safety and security of aid workers. Particularly if Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims doesn’t change, American aid workers will be at significant risk when traveling in the Muslim world. For instance, I have a trip planned to Afghanistan which was supposed to fall over the inauguration weekend and I’ve already been asked to change the dates to reduce risks in country.”

Another aid worker noted,trump-effect

“This may be a bit short term and a bit long term but my biggest concern overall is around funding and funding restrictions. Does Donald Trump even know what USAID does?? His isolationist, “care for the Americans first” attitude will likely have negative effects in relief and development spending from USG. He may bring back a reversion to the played out idea that it’s a zero sum choice to address issues at home and address poverty abroad. The current administration made considerable progress in ensuring gender mainstreaming, climate sensitivity, inclusion, and LGBTQ issues were addressed in programming. Without the push from the funding agencies, I think most NGOs would have continued their programming as usual. Without this pressure (or at worst, with pressure to the contrary), we may see a back sliding in the quality of programming and attention to address deeper root cause issues.”

Agreed, the idea that aid and support are not a zero sum choice is hard to comprehend for many people and the incoming Trump administration’s rhetoric is clear in supporting “American first.”

More updates as data roll in.

Click here to take the survey.


Tom Arcaro

Tom Arcaro is a professor of sociology at Elon University. He has been researching and studying the humanitarian aid and development ecosystem for nearly two decades and in 2016 published 'Aid Worker Voices'. He recently published his second and third books related to the humanitarians sector with 'Confronting Toxic Othering' published in 2021 and 'Dispatches from the Margins of the Humanitarian Sector' in 2022.

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