Three things that annoy me today:
NGOs. We need fewer NGOs. There, I’ve said it. There are too many NGOs. Too many INGOs, too many LNGOs, too many SLoNGOs, too many bloated BINGOs muddling along, resting on their laurels. For goodness sake far, far too many clueless startups. There is a glut of impromptu, unqualified, parasitic participants in this field. Time to ban from the sector those who don’t add value. We will improve aid outcomes, not to mention make everyone’s life easier. Time to make this all about quality rather than quantity.
Yes, I see you, over there in the back corner, nodding vigorously, all smug, certain I’m not talking about you. Don’t get too cocky…
Development. NGO-style development doesn’t really work. At least not very well. There, I’ve said that, too. There is simply no evidence to support the grandiose claims of large-scale, sweeping change made by development organizations, practitioners, and institutional donors. Meta theories and grand strategies look great on PowerPoint and make awesome cleverly titled books. But they don’t bear fruit on the ground. Okay, okay. Sometimes one-off projects work on a limited, local scale. Yet even there the successes are random enough that it’s hard to pin down the rhyme or reason. So stop fronting.
You want to make a difference in the aid sector, get your disaster response house in order.
Provincialism. It’s international aid. IN-TER-NAT-IONAL. This enterprise is, by definition, about moving resources, ideas, people from point A to point B, specifically for the purpose of making changes at point B. Make peace with this reality. Yes, I know how things sometimes look. But expats in the field are not the problem. Poor people management, indiscernible mission focus, lack of organizational discipline, being donor-driven, and general cranial-rectal inversion are the problems (among others).
I think we can all agree that ideas, plans, and strategies need to be evaluated on their own merits, and not on the basis of who came up with them. Let’s remember that that knife cuts in more than one direction.
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Let’s see what tomorrow brings.