15 comments on “9 Events that have Shaped the Humanitarian Industry

  1. nice post 🙂 first of all, i would like to say that it was your page which inspired me to do “little actions” of my own in helping people. it’s always nice to contribute one’s skills and talents to help other people through their hardships in life. i’ve always believe that humans, regardless of one’s morality or religion, are inherently helpful despite political influences or whatever it is that cause people to “kill”.

    i cannot name other major global events in the history of humanitarianism but i can name a lot here in our country. i have participated in some of them either in major roles or minor ones. regardless how little ones efforts are, there’s always that light feeling inside you despite seeing the devastation in the environment and that extra strength which came out of nowhere to keep you moving to help more people.

    • A lovely sentiment Kat, and I like your approach- that humanitarian action is first and foremost individual, and local. I hope more people embrace this philosophy.

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  3. MA,
    Longtime follower, first time commenter 🙂 This is a great post, and I’d like permission to use your material as I present material to a high school social justice class on humanitarian ethics. You have become a role model as I aspire to be a blogging photographer. For now I’ll stick to TCK, humanitarian, and follower of Jesus.

    • In terms of additional key events, perhaps Pakistan 2005 (first roll out of the clusters), or Japan 2011 (nation refusing external assistance). Oh, and maybe the possibility that Nargis (2008) is the positive side to political partiality, where humanitarian assistance increased pressure for non-violent resolution and recent trade embargoes have been lifted.

    • That’s kind of you Chris, thanks for your words and encouragement and peace on your journey. Please feel free to use the material as you need- happy to share and help out. 🙂

  4. I think you could round it out to 10 with a reflection on the massive Afghan refugee population in Pakistan, peaking at around 3 million I think, during the 1980s. As well as being a prime example of co-opted humanitarian aid as an instrument of foreign policy in the cold war era. I think this one is apposite at it reflects the potential intransigent permanence of conflict-related aid operations in the absence of a political solution. A lesson of the 80s that I think both the humanitarian sector and western governments had a massive dose of starry-eyed selective amnesia about, the day the Berlin Wall came down. Aid is not substitute for political will and engagement, diplomacy and leadership – as the Balkans, Somalia, and the Rwanda genocide all in the early 90s will attest.

    • Thanks Cynan- a welcome addition. I’m showing my immaturity in years by admitting that I completely failed to take this one into account. Well before my time (at least during the Afghantsy campaign), and I guess a little relegated to the backwaters of the international community’s conscience- particularly given the strong like between the ‘aid’ operation in Peshawar and the rise of the mujahadin that was to become the foundation for the Taliban.

  5. V. thought provoking post – thanks for the round up. I agree with Chris, that there were several important learning points from the 2005 Kashmir earthquake too, which I’ll paste below from our twitter exchange:

    1. How to work in a context where there is a strong state and involvement of national army and try to maintain neutrality

    2. Need for gender sensitive programming, particularly given the Muslim context http://tinyurl.com/coorsbv

    3. Divisive impact of dispersing funds through Cluster mechanisms rather than dedicating them 100% to coordination

    4. Importance of participation – working in partnership with national NGOs (also often the only way to ensure access) & involving local populations in response – asking people what they want/need/if they received it ie. HAP initiative

    5. Lots of learning in relation to logistics at high alts – using mountain guides to lead distributions etc

    6. Realisation that education IS part of an emergency response (maybe came earlier though – tsunami)?

    7. And growth of Disaster Risk Reduction approach

    That’s it from me, but would be interesting to know if others saw any impact from Pakistan flood response too.

    • All great points Lucy- thanks for converting that Twitter thread into a reply! You’ve brought out some key ideas here, valuable additions, ta!

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