Empowerment and Survival: Humanitarian Work in Civil Conflict (Part I)

This two-part article explores the experience of living and working for a poverty-focused NGO in a civil war whose roots lay in the chronically inequitable distribution of power and access to resources. Based on 12 years' work in Central America, principally with refugees from El Salvador, the article reflects on the demands and constraints placed on international aid workers in the context of counter-insurgency; and on the ways in which relationships with local organisations and NGOs are affected. Empowerment and participation are examined from the perspective of those who reject their role as war victims.