I read an article on IRIN the other day about the dysfunctional UN mission in Myanmar, and felt an urge to write some spontaneous, but heartfelt comments.
Myanmar – A Case In Point
What is described in the article is unfortunately not unique. Quite the contrary:
- The absence of leadership. In Myanmar, through a UN representative who is apparently not suited for the job.
- Internal, detrimental strife between different agencies.
This is, unfortunately, the case with many UN missions around the world. As a result, the UN is not able to take a stand and focus on essential matters.
Such as the horrendous situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar.
Furthermore, this cowardice mixed with internal battles makes the UN look ridiculous, and more and more insignificant day by day. [Read more…]
Does corruption make people more susceptible to disasters? In other words does corruption shape the impact and magnitude of a disaster?
In the first post in this series I wrote about what is more well-known regarding corruption and disasters. Such as the embezzlement of relief funds and substandard buildings collapsing during earthquakes.
However, when it comes to how corruption influences vulnerability in general, little has been written, and even less has been said.
There are a few published articles on the subject but they are beyond most people’s reach. Official reports and documents often only hint at a connection, and use terms like “ lack of accountability” or “weak governance”.
That does not mean a relationship does not exist. Because, there are several things we actually do know. [Read more…]
I have just read “The Book of Joy” by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. (with Douglas Carlton Abrams). And I felt so uplifted that I needed to write a blog inspired by their thoughts.
The authors remind us of the universal and ancient wisdom that joy can only be found within ourselves. It is not about loads of money, the next promotion, a bigger house or achieving any kind of self-centred goals.
We know that, but the human race seems to be in need of a constant reminder. If we had lived by that reminder both humanity and the planet would have been in a much better state. [Read more…]
If you have any experience from working with disasters, you are probably aware of the severe impact corruption has on disaster management. The problem with corruption is of course that it is opaque; and often occurs in countries where transparency is low and press freedom repressed. Hence, it can continue undisturbed. Journalists or others who want to investigate cases of severe corruption also risk putting themselves in danger.
In academic literature the influence of corruption on disaster management is mentioned; but mostly in a generic way without elaborating on the matter. When I browsed through the index lists of my books on disaster management, the word corruption occurred in only one of them. Articles that do exist are often shared among academics or networks of professionals. In other words, within closed communities talking to themselves.
So, what do we know?
This is a story about two very different work teams I have been part of.
One of the teams was a UN team; the other was an emergency preparedness project team in Sweden. I leave it to you to guess which team was which one.
The Bad and The Ugly Team
This team was not actually a team. Its members worked side by side. The flow of information and number of interactions were kept to a minimum.
Some of the team members did not miss an opportunity to belittle other team members. It could be about rank, experience or anything else they could come up with. Many spent a lot of time and energy on dreading the next toxic email, or spiteful comment; and subsequently, strategies for how to handle them. [Read more…]
Gender stereotypes play a large part in persistent gender inequality. Women are still expected to be humble and withdrawn, or, in many cultures, submissive.
Men are still excused, by other men and many women, for their sexist or even violent behaviour. Because they are, apparently, “not able to control themselves.”
It is easy to find stories about poor girls and women being forced to marry their rapists. What is even worse is that religious and political leaders often support these decisions. “Woman tempted man. He, of course, could not help himself.” I can only try to imagine the fear and horror these women have to go through.
Primitive and Powerful
But this archaic behaviour does not only occur in certain cultures. Sexual harassment and misconduct still seem to be widespread even in countries where men and women are relatively equal. [Read more…]
Sunk cost bias is one the concepts presented in the World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society and Behaviour. Since I assume many of you do not have the time or the energy to read that report, I will try to give you an apprehensible explanation; and some reasons for why you should know.
In an aid context, sunk cost is when you persist with a project, despite its obvious flaws or absence of results. You, your office or your organization have invested so much money and effort into it that is hard to admit your failures. And the more you have invested, and the more you have lost, the more likely you are to head on; despite knowing that the project is beyond rescue.
Why do we humans do such a thing? Looking at it from the outside it seems rather stupid, to say the least. Especially if we claim ourselves to be well educated and “rational”? [Read more…]