I just finished “Damned Nations” by Samantha Nutt, a book I’d highly recommend to anyone working in the aid sector, anyone interested in aid or development as well as any aid worker who wants his friends and relatives to understand what he is doing all day.
The last three weeks were a mix of very intense ups and downs that left me frequently frustrated, sleepless and banging my head against a table, but ultimately gave me a sense of satisfaction that cannot be found in many other jobs: the knowledge that I had a very real, positive impact on the lives of people – and not just of an anonymous group of beneficiaries, but individuals whose names and histories I know.
I think of information management a little bit like of logistics: You don’t notice it if it works smoothly, but it has a massive impact if it doesn’t work. But, unlike with logistics, many people are so used to IM being crap that they think that it cannot be improved. Let me tell you: good information management is possible, it’s not even difficult, and it can do lots to improve humanitarian aid.