Must-read

A friend of mine sent me this article: http://archive.truthout.org/how-rumors-rule-cholera-torn-haiti65656. It is a must-read! (*if you are interested in Haiti and/or development…)

Some thoughts:

It might be the best article I have read about Haiti so far. Maybe because it expresses and reinforces my own observations, and we always like our own feelings to be confirmed!Nonetheless, I think the article highlights something critical to ‘understanding (a part of) Haiti’: the perception of many Haitians with regards to the international community, aid and peace-keeping. In addition to the relevance of the topic, I feel the tone is right and the description quite accurate and sensitive. I am tempted to say it is ‘unfortunately’ quite accurate, because it does break my heart.

The article also points to how important it is for development work to understand the context it is working in (socially, but even in terms of infrastructure too, when you consider the paved road story for example). Logistics, technical design, funding – they are all very important too. However understanding the context – most probably by really involving those you are actually working for – may be one of the most important factors for lasting positive impact. And one which much of the development community is not very good at so far.

You may have noticed that I don’t really write about aid and development – I definitely have a lot of feelings about these topics and often spend most of my time thinking about it, but I don’t actually have enough knowledge and experience to write sensible things (or at least not without a lot of time and effort that are better spent on my work right now). However this article resonated with me – both in my attempt to understand some of Haiti while I am here and reflect it via this blog, as well as in its illustration of the importance of ‘the way NGOs are perceived by a community that they are supposed to serve’ (the article focuses on how this can affect aid effectiveness, but it’s also a very interesting topic in terms of human relationships). So here no hesitations in encouraging you to read it.

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