10,000 NGO’s in Haiti

My husband is a huge fan of This American Life. He listens to podcasts of it every week. I love it too….contained and informative stories about things happening in this country (and sometimes other countries…not really sure about that name for the show, frankly….I digress). There’s always some humor in the stories, there’s always some sadness, and there’s definitely always something new to be learned.

Last week’s episode, called “Island Time” just happened to be about Haiti and the relief efforts happening there now as a result of the earthquake, as well as the relief efforts that have occurred there over the last 50 years. Did you know that there are currently 10,000 NGOs working in that country, and the country has consistently gotten poorer over the last fifty years (these facts all according to the show itself)?

It seems mindboggling to think of those statistics, but Act 1 of the show tells a wonderful story of a farmer who is trying to grow and sell mangos on her small plot of land. The story told by the show about this woman and a really cool-sounding entrepreneur named Mango Man turns out to be one of the best and most coherent descriptions of a couple of the grand concepts that we here at Nuru bump into all the time in the work we’re trying to do:

1. Complexity – no intervention is truly simple. Every one has far-reaching implications that one can’t comprehend just by looking at a mango tree.

2. Purpose – what we are trying to really do in the communities we travel to must be defined. In defining that thing we are doing, we will inherently establish a reason for us to leave at some point – once that thing is done.

In deference to the show, I’ll now say: listen to it. I can’t do it justice in this blog, and it’s truly an amazing and thorough depiction.

Next week we here on the Research Team will submit to a couple of members of our field staff an early draft of two small lists of “Dashboard Metrics” related to Water and Sanitation and Education. These two lists will consist of our recommendation at this point as to the best indicators of poverty and movement out of it in a community. They are things that, when measured and tracked, really show a change in the lives of the people in the community.

I know, I know, we’ve been working on these for a while, and it’s our purpose in life, but I would say that the difference between these Dashboard metrics and really anything we worked with last year is that each indicator in the Dashboard will have a list of sub-indicators that are the things that must be measured in order to determine a movement in the Dashboard.  For instance, a Dashboard metric might end up being “Adult Literacy”. In order to show a movement in adult literacy, measures of different portions of the adult population might need to be done and a score then comprised of that composite.

The purpose of our submittal of this draft list of Dashboard Metrics to the field staff is to help with Nuru’s addressing those two grand concepts I mentioned from the TAL episode.

1. Our model is holistic because of the complexity of the issue of extreme poverty. We knew that leaving out any one of the five target areas we decided to address in or work would put the communities where we work in danger of not experiencing a sustainable exit from extreme poverty.

2. The list of possible interventions related to each of our five areas is a very long one, though. Our field staff will use our draft Dashboard to start to make some revised program plans. By using research and well-thought-out goals, our programs will proceed with a sense of purpose that will enable the reaching of our goal of sustainability and a five-year exit!

Thanks for reading and until next week….


About Gabrielle Blocher

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