Technology, Humanitarian Aid and Change of Focus


How do you change the focus of your thinking?

Humanitarian aid is a challenging but important topic. Today, various new approaches to aid can be seen where social innovation is challenging many traditional approaches. Behind some of these ideas is a change of focus where ideas are developed that do not support traditional areas.

  • Change of focus on finding solutions based upon providing aid that supports economic, medical or health areas.

First, you identify the areas and assumptions of the problem, then you try to find new areas that you can use for development aid. For example, you can donate technology.

One Laptop Per Kid

Ethiopian kids who had never seen a printed word taught themselves how to use a tablet and how to spell  English words. The children in the village had no books, no newspapers and there were no street signs. So a common approach would be to teach these kids to letters and to read and. . .  Or maybe not. . .

“Hey kids, here’s this box, you can open it if you want, see ya!”

The project One Laptop Per Child provided children with Motorola Zoom tablet PC. That is, they provided the kids with boxes of tablets containing the tablets plus solar chargers. This is what happened.

“We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.”

The children showed creativity and determination to find out more about the things in the boxes. Kids are curious and creative if we provide them with opportunities to learn. “The kids had completely customized the desktop—so every kid’s tablet looked different. We had installed software to prevent them from doing that. “

Change of Focus

Of course, there are other areas where you can search for ideas to improve humanitarian aid.

  • Redefine aid to developing countries as Aid for World Economics – this change of focus could lead to ideas like all the money currently spent on aid could be directed to global challenges that affect the developing countries the most, like rising fuel and food prices.
  • Aid does not have to be directed at the poor people in a country – could focus aid on improving conditions for the middle classes and support them to help the poorest in the country.
  • Aid is a short-term method – change of focus could lead to ideas that teaching people to solve problems could be a better long-term solutions

What other aspects of humanitarian aid could you focus on changing? What ideas did you get as a result?

Go here to read more about using technology to change people’s lives.

Photo “Worldtree” by Salvatore Vuono

7 Replies to “Technology, Humanitarian Aid and Change of Focus”

  1. Why denying refugees the right to work is a catastrophic error

    From the 1980s on, a dominant international approach has been taken towards the majority of the world’s refugees. Concentrated in a small number of host countries, close to war zones, displaced people have been settled in what has become known as “humanitarian silos”. Such places are usually remote, arid, dangerous and almost always have strict prohibitions on socio-economic activity. They are designed to deal only with the emergency phase of refugee intake, and yet the model has endured, leaving individuals and families stranded for years at a time.

  2. Meeting The Migration Challenge And Reforming Capitalism Through Mutual Solidarity

    Hundreds of thousands of jobs in Turkey have been generated by German firms over the years. That hasn’t cost Germany jobs. On the contrary, it’s raised productivity in Germany because of the less skilled jobs, the less productive jobs, have been moved to Turkey. This is globalisation at its best.

    Instead, UNHCR, their response was: “We’re not a jobs agency. We don’t do jobs for refugees. We do free food and tents.” That’s the problem. People don’t want free food and tents for ten years. They want a job.

  3. The way out of the migration crisis according to Oxford economist Paul Collier
    Africa does not need charity. Africa needs jobs

    European migration policy remains a mess, the result of years of short-term thinking without a strategic vision.

    Firms! Investment! Europe needs to steer companies and create jobs, instead of taking care of blankets and food packages. Also from self-interest. Do you want to prevent refugees from taking their chance in Europe? Then you have to bring the opportunities to them. That is what we are trying to do in Jordan. We want to encourage European companies to invest in production sites in the vicinity of reception camps.

    “Sweatshop states? ‘. Do you know what the main objection was to European business leaders when we asked them to join our Jordanian project? That they were afraid of accusations of exploitation by Western NGOs. So far the NGOs have driven it: under the guise of ‘standing up for refugees’ they deny the same refugees their only chance of a decent life. I have long been irritated by their arrogance, a feeling I share with many African leaders. Who are these NGO people, that they have such a moral superiority feeling? Poor countries are not allowed to mine coal, because that is bad for the climate. They are not allowed to build water dams for other environmental reasons. But how should those countries develop if they are not allowed to generate energy?

    The worst thing is that these NGOs can force their agenda on important organizations, such as the World Bank.

  4. We need a paradigm shift; we have to realise that Africa is not the continent of cheap commodities but that the people of Africa need infrastructure and a future: A Marshall Pan with Africa

    What is the dominant thinking in this sentence and perhaps behind the whole concept of the Marshall Plan with Africa?
    “These conditions must include respect for human rights and the rule of law, and also education and economic stability”. To reflect on.

    Besides that, representatives from the business sector, academia, churches, civil society and politics entered into a dialogue on the Marshall Plan with Africa and delivered ideas. Recommended reading.

    Original text

  5. The Global Divide Revisited; How our Failure to Understand value systems widens the cultural fault lines.

    Economic aid and development programs aimed at bringing prosperity to the less fortunate have failed to stem civil wars, famine and migration. Approaches designed to improve the human condition continue to overlook the importance of the different steps and stages in interior social development.

    The European Union is facing one of its greatest challenges with the endless flow of refugees at its borders. Can it successfully address the issues of settlement and migration before its too late? How would a permanent settlement affect the European cultural character in the long term? Beyond the temporary humanitarian care in place, does Europe need a more complex plan for effective integration? Will violence and radicalization these refugees are escaping spill into Europe? Find out which operating codes and which levels of complexities are needed in order for Europe to successfully address these issues.

    Europe with its new realities needs a new level of thinking. It needs a new perspective that has a fresh set of assumptions about human nature, the nature of change and transformation, and the forces that make life for better or for worse.

    Spiral Dynamics in Action: Humanity’s Master Code

    Spiral Dynamics Don Edward Beck Wikipedia

  6. What do you recommend development aid organizations? How should they proceed?

    LOPES: It makes no sense to board a plane and build a school in some African country. That is nothing more than a handout. But you could also use development aid to increase the tax base of a country: better IT, better statistics, better systems for collecting taxes. Ensure that the educational apparatus is given the fiscal scope to build schools itself.

    Another example with which Europe can really make a difference is making it cheaper to send money to Africa. Today you pay almost six per cent to transfer money to Africa, while it costs almost nothing to send money from Switzerland to France. That may sound ridiculous in your ears, but for Africa, it is about huge amounts. The African diaspora sends around $ 80 billion a year back to their countries of origin. That is a lot more than the 50 billion dollars of Western development aid that Africa receives. If that six per cent were lost, that would be an unlikely investment. Those are useful measures.

    Video: “Africa in transformation: economic development in the age of doubt” with Prof Carlos Lopes:

    Book: Carlos Lopes, Africa in Transformation, Palgrave Macmillan

  7. Basic Income Guarantee: Just Give Money to the Poor

    The simplest of ideas can still hold much value. The collaborative work of Joseph Hanlon, Armando Barrientos, and David Hulme, Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South discusses this revolutionary concept and how some developing countries are simply granting the poor money and watching how they use that money wisely, for education and for businesses to sustain the money they are given. Debating the problems and values of such a simple plan, Just Give Money to the Poor is a scholarly and thoughtful read that shouldn’t be missed.”

    Click to access 553a9642e0c0a.pdf

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