January 23, 2013
Reading and thinking about Oxfam America’s new aid campaign and some of the reactions to it, made me think about the title of a song my kids used to listen to years ago “We’re All in this Together”. As the greater community of “we” try to figure out what Smart Aid or Disruptive Development or whatever we want to call it is, and how we transform from where we are to where we want to go, it’s a giant puzzle, with many moving and interconnected parts, and we need to be listening to and talking to each other. Is some aid ineffective? Of course. But is some aid also useful? Most likely. I can cite examples that I feel are making an impact including this story from a program I’ve worked with that is partially U.S. AID funded, but I also want to address some of the broader ‘mindset’ questions.
It seems to me that there are a variety of useful roles to be played including:
It’s not always the roles we play that are the problem, it’s how we play them. Decision-makers can help develop organizational cultures that encourage those in their organizations to keep asking the tough questions:
So kudos to organizations like Oxfam America that are opening up the discussion and encouraging others to engage with them. We may not always like the answers, but the more we ask the hard questions and really listen to responses from within our own organizations and from others, the closer we’ll get to better understanding the whole puzzle.