02/14/2013 05:57 pm ET

Why Didn't All The Aid Reach The Poorest? Here's Why

When academics or the media criticize aid organizations for inefficiencies or promises unfulfilled, I think about the vast and endlessly tangled complexities of this work. Crisis follows crisis, harsh realities are compounded by harsh realities, and every day there are situations where we are forced to make decisions when no option offers the perfect solution.

That’s often the case here in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the epicenter of what was called “Africa’s World War” (1998-2003), the deadliest conflict since World War II. Especially in the eastern reaches of the country, violence and terror have continued since the supposed end of that war. Conflict and preventable disease take the lives of tens of thousands each month—five years ago a fellow international organization here put the toll at more than five million. The situation has changed little since then.