First in a series by Alexandra Noble (LBJ MGPS Student) covering her internship at InterAction.
One of the challenges of international development is the fragmented nature in which it takes place. Since it is difficult for international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) to communicate with one another on the ground, there is often duplication of projects and wasted resources. Organizations try to reinvent the wheel out in the field instead of learning from their colleagues or from other INGOs on best practices and effective development strategies.
I find this issue fascinating and frustrating. Besides reading about it in classes at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, I have lived through it first hand as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldova. International development can be efficient when executed properly, so I looked for an internship that would allow me to spend my summer exploring ways to increase the impact international development has on local communities. I am fortunate to be doing exactly that through my internship with InterAction.
InterAction, a Washington, D.C.-based alliance of NGOs and a recognized leader in international development, works to help form a united voice for NGOs, advocating for international relief and development programs, supporting humanitarian responses, and increasing the transparency of member organizations. Despite the overwhelming nature of the task set before the organization, the InterAction staff does not seem fazed by the challenge. Interning for InterAction offers plenty of excitement. On any given day there are working groups meeting on everything from the war in eastern Ukraine to food security to G7 and beyond.
There are also special events like the one I attended on Capital Hill, where InterAction presented development statistics showing the positive impact of US foreign aid, or a meeting about the future of Financing for Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
InterAction staff bring organizations, the US government, and the private sector together to discuss innovative ways to collaborate and make international development more effective and efficient—such as the initiative I am working on with NGO Aid Map. While there are always challenges in working with organizations that compete for limited resources, InterAction helps INGOs that are all working towards the same goal.
To that end, InterAction hosts the InterAction Forum, an annual conference which brings together the development community to raise discussions on pressing topics. This year, in June of 2015, the Forum focused on a variety of topics, including the media, closing development gaps, and youth in development. As an intern, I had the opportunity to listen to experts discuss the challenges currently facing international development and ways to overcome these obstacles as a community.