You know, you're right with alot. I've heard the argument that the only way to actually help would be to stop humanitarian aid which makes people dependant. A great way to actually improve things are microcredits, and there are some organizations that make the whole thing possible. I just read this article about a successful german businessman who gave up all his money to build an organization that does exactly that. People who want to help can give a small credit to someone who seeks it, 20 or 50 dollars maybe, and you would get the money back after a short time. The organization provides the contact and hands out the money etc. Mostly woman profit from that program, and that is a good thing because it has direct positive results in society there.
I remember watching a documentary about Haiti with my mom who was so shocked about the poverty there. How can they be so poor and disorganized and dirty? Some woman said that she baked a sort of cookies out of mud and grease to stave off the worst hunger. Unimaginable.