Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The social hierarchy of aid agencies

The same overflowing fishbowl of agencies traveled from one disaster to another. It felt oddly similar to the Greek system in college—there were the "good" agencies, the "exclusive" agencies, the agencies that kept to themselves, and the ones that threw big parties; the rich agencies with their fancy compounds, air-conditioned bedrooms, regular Internet access, and dozens of white Land Cruisers parked in their lots. Each agency had a reputation and a place somewhere in the industry hierarchy. But the pecking order varied from country to country. Just as SigEp could be cool at WashU but lame at Michigan, so, too, could Save the Children be great in Darfur, but terrible in Aceh. It really just depended on who was there.
Jessica Alexander, Chasing Chaos: My Decade in and out of Humanitarian Aid (New York: Broadway Books, 2013), p. 105.

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