Wired magazine just published an excellent article about the Red Cross Red Crescent relief operation in Haiti: “Organizing Armageddon: What we learned from the Haiti earthquake.” In the paper edition Vince Beiser takes 13 pages to describe what is needed to manage a major relief operation. It is an extremely well-balanced and well-informed piece. Vince was in Haiti just after the earthquake and saw everything first hand.
Criticizing the right things
The article does not shy away from criticism. But it is criticism that I find fair and appropriate. Vince took the time to find out why certain things don’t work and Wired gave him the space to explain it. I wish we would see more articles like this. Disaster relief is extremely complex and these complexities cannot easily be reduced to three paragraphs, a two minute YouTube video or 140 characters.
Knowing how hard the international and local staff and volunteers have been working since January, I often can’t help but feel protective about them.
Everybody is a disaster manager
However, in most cases it is not the criticism that I mind. What I have a problem with is most of the time the people who do the criticizing don’t take the time to try to understand the issues before launching into a tirade of condemnation.
In the same way, that everybody is a football coach during the world cup, it seems like suddenly everybody is a disaster manager.
For everyone who is prepared to invest 30 minutes of his time to get a good, basic understanding of the problems and solutions that all aid agencies face in Haiti, I recommend that you buy the magazine or read the story online.