Organizing Armageddon

The most persistent systemic problem with big international aid efforts, one highlighted in virtually every major study, is that no one is in charge. In a major catastrophe, thousands of high-minded, highly motivated folks pour in from all over the world. Each big agency has its own style and priorities, and each sets up its own supply chain of planes, ships, and trucks. They compete with one another for resources, duplicate one another’s efforts, and generally get in one another’s way.

from Organizing Armageddon: What We Learned From the Haiti Earthquake via Derek Hoven.

What is not mentioned in the article, and is even more catastrophic is the fact that very few of those aid efforts utilize and work with locals, allowing the locals to participate in the decision-making process.  This is perhaps best understood by the fact that no Haitian is addressed in the article except for the negative image of a muscular man stalling the Red Cross in their effort to deliver food.

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