shit happens

Field team: Hello? Hello? HEY! Yes. Down here. Helooooo… ok thank you. Just so you know, we are in the shit.

Regional office: Thanks for the update. You OK or you need some help with that shit?

Field: Shit yeah.

Region: What kind of shit is going down?

Field: Really shitty shit. I mean, there are shitloads of people coming across the border. Refugees. Returnees. You name it, we got it. And would you believe it, they all need shit, and they all need to shit.

Region: Sheeeeit. OK. Yo, HQ. Field is in the shit.

HQ: Well go help them with their shit.

Region: No shit, Sherlock. We are. It’s still shit. And it’s getting shitter. And now there’s like, bombs dropping and shit.

HQ: Oh, shit.

HQ: OK EVERYONE LISTEN UP WE ARE ON IT NOW AND IN CHARGE AND WE ALL HAVE TO GET OUR SHIT TOGETHER. I WANT DAILY UPDATES ABOUT THE SHITTYNESS OF THIS SHIT!

Region: Oh, shit.

Fundraising: Hi guys! Um… how much is all the shit you need gonna cost?

Field: Dunno. But shitloads, definitely shitloads. Call it ten million.

Fundraising: Oh, shit.

Region: HQ, can you give us some cash to give to Field, so they can get going while fundraising does their shit?

HQ: Ah, shit. Look it’s end of financial year… I’m a bit short right now… here’s $100k.

Region and Field: You have got to be shitting me.

Fundraising: Don’t worry guys! I totally got this. Field, can you please stop what you’re doing and send me some pictures of your shit?

Field: Shitshitshitshit. OK… fine. Here.

Fundraising: Thanks for the pictures guys! I’m afraid these pictures of your shit are a bit shitty. We’ll send out a shit-hot photographer. Also we’ll go shoot the shit with the donors.

HQ: WHY IS NO ONE PAYING ATTENTION TO ME? MORE SHITREPS PEOPLE!

Region: LOL! Well played.

Field: Ahem… can we get on with our shit now??

HQ and Region: YES! GO GO GO GO!

Logistics: Hey! Nobody told me you need ze big piles of sheet!! Whaz iz wiz you people, you teenk shit grow on trees!!

Region: Calm down logs, no need to lose your shit.

Field: Just ignore them. They’re always like that.

Logistics: Merde! *drags on cigarette*

Finance: What the shit is going on? You’ve spent a million quid! Which shit for brains signed off on all this shit!?

Field: Sometimes the spirit just moves you. Y’know, humanitarian imperative an’ shit. Soz.

Region: “The spirit” just moves you? Bullshit! Right. Gin is now banned from all team sites.

HQ: The shit is really gonna hit the fan when audit hear about this.

Fundraising: Hi guys! Got you a couple million, enough to muddle through, but not the proper shitload you really need. Some donors have some other nasty shit on their plate. Others have to hang back until this crisis is officially designated as “deep shit”. And frankly, some just don’t have their shit together. And as you know…. all this shit just rolls downhill. 

HQ: Ah, shit.

Region: Ah, shit.

Field: Eh. Same old shit.

 

Fin

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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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