So, it’s been 2 weeks since I last put a blog post up, which is pretty inexcusable really. All up, I’m pretty pleased with how well I’ve managed to keep churning out articles and musings since this website started up 18 months ago. I aim to have 3-5 posts up a week, and there are pockets where that’s slipped horrendously, and other times where I’ve managed to mantain a steady pace. Thanks to all you lovely readers who keep dropping by and following what’s going on here on Wanderlust through the feasts and famines.
At any rate, I’m definitely in a dearth right now. Not for ideas or things I want to talk about, but just available time. I’ve spent a weekend out of town, then been in Fiji for work for a few days (hard life, right?), and no sooner back from there than I have to pack for another work trip to Guatemala. All meaning my free space for writing has been pared down to a minimum.
There is a bunch of stuff on my mind, and when I have some time I’m hoping to share some of it. This includes (but isn’t limited to):
Complexity, Analysis and Aid Work: We spend a lot of time in the aid industry talking about (although not necessarily doing) in-depth critical analysis of the contexts we work in- issues such as gender, disability, do no harm, disaster-risk reduction, protection, human rights, and so forth. There is an underlying assumption that this improves the outcome of the work we do. But when you through complexity into the mix (systems, feedback loops, uncertainty, error, among others) there is a real sense whereby there’s only so much we can account for through careful planning. Do we need another approach?
The Humanitarian Landscape: Two recent reports (ALNAP’s report on the State of the Humanitarian System, and the Feinstein Centre’s Humanitarian Horizons report) highlight trends and realities within the humanitarian industry and should not only be required reading for aid workers, but are in fact, as reports go, real page-turners. Relevant issues such as the place of the private sector, emerging trends, and looking at how the humanitarian sector allocates resources, are all worth discussing (possibly not all in one post).
Photos: I had a weekend away in Victoria’s High Country a couple of weeks ago but haven’t gotten around to posting (or even processing) any of the pictures I took yet. I haven’t even downloaded my shots from Fiji from my camera. But I’m hoping to have a few to share with you.
Fundraising 101: Why asking what portion of your donation goes to a charity’s overheads is the wrong question to ask.
New Ways of Working: Historically there has been a huge gulf between long-term development programming, and emergency relief work in NGOs, and the humanitarian sector more broadly. A whole range of emerging realities mean, more than ever (and it’s been a challenge for decades), that this has to change.
Southern Solutions for Northern Problems: There’s a competition currently on that is somewhere between spoof, activism and sincerity, that is awarding a prize to the most innovating ideas for solving some of the social problems that we face in the ‘industrialized west’. The caveat: Submissions can only come from people in so-called developing countries. This is a wonderful idea and one that has captured my imagination, and I’d like to explore it in more detail.
A Couple of Projects: At some point, when I have my act together, I want to have a chat with some of the aid-workers in my e-sphere about setting up some sort of wiki-type online resource for non-aid-insiders, following a tweet-up with follow Melbourne aid-workers @Michael_Keizer and @RichendaG. A colleague of mine has also been making noises about language within the aid industry that is causing more problems than it solves, and the possibility of creating an aid lexicon that redefines, removes or replaces some of our terminology to be more in line with contemporary thinking and practice.
Resisting the Urge: I plan not to comment on BP, oil-spills or corporate accountability (on the eve of a ruling on the 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal disaster), or on Israel’s policy towards flotillas, global citizenry, and Gazans in general. Of course, I may yet lose my cool and find something to say…
So yeah. That’s a couple of things floating around the head-space at the moment. No doubt more will pop up. In the meantime I’ll try and be back soon with a little more meat, and hopefully some pretty pictures to keep you entertained as well.