Solving the Relief/Development Divide, part 3: Shocking Conclusions

I’m publishing a short series of posts as the definitive word on tackling the root cause of the failures of humanitarian and development practitioners to reconcile, resolve and otherwise deal with their differences in approach.  There is certainly much more that can be said, and probably volumes that can and will be written, but it will all be wrong.

Let us recap.

In part one of this series, we established that the abject failure of economists, anthropologists, sociologists, ethnologists, political scientists, engineers and every stripe of sun-weathered dusty-booted aidworker to resolve the yawning chasm between relief and development into a Grand Unified Theory of aid, is down to the fact that Disaster Risk Reduction advisors and practitioners are some of the most miserable buggers to walk the planet.

In part two, we empirically established that it is nevertheless possible to be wildly successful by making beautiful noises about miserable buggers.

And so now we turn to part three, the conclusion of this series: shocking conclusions.

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I’m feeling very depressed: solving the relief/development divide, part 2.

Let’s summarise the state of play.

Finding  1: DRR types are now, and always have been, a bunch of miserable buggers.

Now look, before we go any further, I’m not making scurrilous comments about a crucial species of the genus Aidworkus for shits and giggles. It brings me no pleasure. But it must be done for the explanatory power it brings to the failure of emergency response and longer term development programmes to get on in theory, and get it on in practice.

Put simply, mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction into both of these disciplines is critical to ensuring their overall coherence; the success and sustainability of all aid interventions; and thus peace, poverty-reduction and ponies for everyone. But such mainstreaming efforts are a non-starter if its practitioners are so miserable and dull on a personal level that no one wants to go to the pub with them, where all relationships and innovations of any note are brought into focus. Seriously, YOU try buying rounds with someone who wants to talk about how the professional nirvana they seek is “a well-regulated, highly functioning market in appropriate insurance, re-insurance and micro-insurance services.”

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We’ll all be rooned: Solving the relief/development divide, part 1

I’m publishing a short series of posts as the definitive word on tackling the root cause of the failures of humanitarian and development practitioners to reconcile, resolve and otherwise deal with their differences in approach.  There is certainly much more that can be said, and probably volumes that can and will be written, but it will all be wrong.

Saundra and Dennis have been sharing some poetry. I’m going to join in, as there’s a poem that provides a useful longitudinal perspective with which to begin exploring one of the many long standing problems in aid slash international development today.

Why, oh why, are rapid-onset emergency responses and longer term development programmes such uneasy bedfellows? Apart from the former stomping in with their water trucking, the mountains of GIK, the local partner and partner-staff nicking, the smelly loggies, the cavalcade-of-CNN, the carnivale-of-wannabes, and/or the occasional stupidly well funded public mega-appeals of late. Apart from the latter being left to pour a neat gin and weep (by candlelight please, to complete the image) as they draft unfortunate letters about force majeure and project suspension and think about where their work of the last two years went.

Oh, no. Those are simply proximal causes. We need to bulldoze the problem tree, tie a chain around its stump, and yank it out of the ground. We’ve got to get a good look at the root cause here.

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