This article shows, based on the Haitian crises after 2010, that international organisations (IOs) as central actors of humanitarian governance in complex crises situations rely on sequenced time frames to manage the diversification and massification of relief actors. At the same time, crisis professionals struggle to correlate their lived temporalities with this preconstructed time model when the localised crisis shifts from an event to a permanent temporality. The article is, therefore, guided by the following question: How is time strategically used by IOs in humanitarian governance and what are the effects of conflicting localised temporalities? The article argues first that different types of temporalities were associated with different groups of aid actors after the 2010 earthquake. The prolongated humanitarian crisis resulted in the repetitive adaption of UN appeal and funding instruments. Second, I show that the UN used planning instruments based on the disaster management cycle. Based on its cyclical temporality, UN actors combined it with humanitarian project management tools to govern aid projects by formalising the negotiation between the long-term aid programmes and the short-term duration of projects. I finally show the synthesis of both forms of temporal aid governance to control the contradictions between localised and funding temporalities.
- International organisations (IOs) produce contradictions when they associate funding temporalities with crisis temporalities in order to manage actors on the ground. Based on this observation, the analysis suggests more flexible planning tools that allow longer and adaptive funding in humanitarian crises. Project lifecycles should systematically readjust to crisis temporalities and local actors.
- The analysis pushes IOs to further reflect on the internal contradictions and hierarchies of time when designing time management instruments. Highly abstract planning instrument tend to establish a dominant implicit temporality that does not allow for the complexity of localised temporalities. Participatory country planning should dictate aid timeframes and not a preplanned exist-strategy.
- By explicitly acknowledging different temporalities between headquarters and missions, IOs should distinguish between temporalities of project and programme funding, evaluations, actors and crisis phenomena in humanitarian planning in order to avoid contradictions and dysfunctionalities. The temporality of the localised crisis and the political temporalities of aid programmes should be the determining factor for IOs.
- The case study emphasises that cyclical planning instruments can reproduce rigid linear temporalities when they are determined by a single event or process. Whereas cyclical instruments enable a focus on future crises, they tend to suppress parallel temporalities by directing attention to their endpoint. IOs should consider models that enable the management of parallel crisis processes.