"If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go Together.": Outsiders Learning From Insiders in a Humanitarian Context
A healthy global humanitarian system depends on effective partnerships. Donors, implementing actors, local organizations, and individual experts are all presented with the opportunity to partner with local actors in a beneficial manner, with the goal of best serving disaster- and/or conflict affected populations. This paper argues that lost in the current process is the mutual respect, compassion, and humility needed to establish such meaningful partnerships between the mobilizing team, or outsiders, and the local organizations and affected population, or insiders. Even with the recent emphasis on promoting the localization of aid delivery, the system has missed the mark by using semantics such as “developing local capacity,” which subtly labels the insiders as not equal to, and therefore lesser than, the outsiders. Such a relationship fails to allow those whose lives have been directly affected by disaster and conflict to have an active role in re-shaping the world around them. By relating the impact of a personal experience in Western Darfur, Sudan, and examining the experience within the partnership system approach, the author shows that outsiders who do not build adequate partnerships fail to respect the affected population, and thus fail to learn from them. What needs to be understood about such partnerships is that the affected population, used interchangeably with insiders throughout this discussion, continue to live their lives both through and beyond the crisis, while the international humanitarian actors, outsiders, come and go as is convenient for themselves and/or their organizations. While the insiders inherently live as the experts of their own lives, the outsiders continuously fail to apply the humility and mutual respect needed to partner with these experts.
Copyright (c) 2018 Janaka Jayawickrama
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