Oxfam Staff Sexual Exploitation

You are correct in that there are some NGOs that do achieve much success on the ground but unfortunately they tend to be in the minority.

During my brief military career over two decades ago, I was part of team tasked with putting together a training course for combined Military/NGO personnel deployment/aid operations. I interviewed a large number of senior officers and NCOs for their experience of such operations to create case studies for practical exercises.

The general consensus about NGOS was much the same regardless of rank - a few good individuals doing some good work but overall a complete waste of time, energy and money; that poverty wasn't the problem in Africa, it was corruption along with a few other pithy comments around nuclear weapons.

I do remember one story relayed to me by a senior officer in very colourful language about an operation he was involved with in deepest, darkest Africa. Military personnel were tasked with driving aid convoys through dangerous territory rather than civilians. One day, some doddery old dear staggers out into the road into the path of a convoy of large, white trucks and is promptly killed. Company commander reports the issue to the regional HQ.

To resolve the 'crisis' a man in a clean suit is dispatched by air and 4x4 with air con. This 'resolution' is a briefcase full of cash to negotiate 'compensation' with the newly-bereaved family despite the strong objections of the military commander about the possible outcomes but the 'man in the suit' knew better.

A fleet of shiny 4x4s sweep into the village and the negotiations began - the toothless old dear becomes an esteemed matriarch of the clan and the price goes up but is haggled down again to close at USD2,500 which is a tiny, insignificant part of the UN Africa budget but pushes the family into the category of winning the Euromillions lottery in comparison to their neighbours. The 'man in the suit' flies back to his office, busily patting himself on the back for another job well done.

Very soon drivers are reporting that they have to slalom their way along MSRs to evade the motley collection of cripples, cretins and old crones being flung into the path of the convoys to elevate the family's social status. All convoys are halted, new routes have to be recced and secured; some are unable to carry large trucks; loads have to split among smaller vehicles which have to be sourced; more drivers are required or they have to drive longer distances meaning more time off road.

In short, the advice of the military commander on the ground i.e. give the family a few quid but with a stern warning to the village headman to keep civilians away from the convoy routes or suffer the consequences was ignored. The USD2,500 handed over by the 'man in the suit' created a logistical nightmare that lasted weeks, tons of food aid and supplies sitting in warehouses with far less going to where it was desperately needed.
Similar experience. Canadians SOP in the early days in Kandahar was actions on an IED, open fire on the people you see running away a soldier they will be the trigger man and his oppos. Happened once and they ended up cutting some kids in half with 25mm canon from the LAVs. Village elders and family don't give a toss as they weren't too old and therefore seen in their eyes a sense a burden. Family Ian happy with a few hundred dollars and a goat for each kid. Fast forward a years and in the odd occasion we didn't hit the wrong target (I.e a wedding) our BDA would be X KIA, and a few days later X plus ten bodies wouldn't be shown to us with ngo mediators. The additional ten were slightly more decomposed than the others and we'd got IMINT of the local sun digging up deathly deceased relatives to get some extra cash.

Anybody hanging outside any of our main bases When the compensation claims we're being processed would think that military convoys were going out daily to run over and ram a soldier many locals as possible. I will caveat that with is suspect we'd see the same in the UK if cash oayements were being made so freely.


Book Reviewer
In any normal company organization bringing it into disrepute would be grounds for instant dismissal.


Book Reviewer
Happened once and they ended up cutting some kids in half with 25mm canon from the LAVs.
Try the chicken. Please ensure you do not choke on a bone then catch fire and and burst in your coffin. Thanks.
Makes me laugh. Massive catastrophe and the first people flown in set up a communications team.
I may have missed something in the article, like the authors self awareness, but where she describes driving out of their compound and says they saw surgeons amputating patients limbs under trees as they had no where else, the thought occurred that the compound that a comms team had helpfully part occupied and parked their vehicles in might have had a better, alternative use.
In any normal company organization bringing it into disrepute would be grounds for instant dismissal.
Not unless you're linked with Tony Blair and the Labour Party. It normally means lottery jackpot payout and strings pulled to get you an equally profitable new job elsewhere.
Welcome to 2007. That Umbrella choon by Rihanna is mint innit?
You'll generally find there's a lag.

Political party seeds it's people into positions of power. Political party looses power but its minions remain in key positions for some time.

Trump for example going through this dealing with key people who Obama placed. Obama struggled with those key people at the start who were placed by Bush.


Book Reviewer
You'll generally find there's a lag.
Wow. Persec. Been a while but yeah, there was a proper old lag. Big Jaffa, Head Cleaner on E Wing. I made myself small then made myself useful punting snout. We still meet for a beer now and then. He sometimes brings Chartreuse, his fave Granddaughter.

Hmm. Do a Google on Goddard's Law?
The idea that Charities and NGOs are neutral and benign is a myth..

You would be better to be blatant about it.. channel aid through the military and increase the size of med/sapper/log elements to cover..

..just a thought!
I like the idea, but the Americans have a great system of using USAID to deliver their humanitarian aid. What better way to improve brand USA than building a school with a big American flag next to it with 'paid for by the US government.'

We can use DFiD.

Where they problem comes though is as usual the costs associated. I suspect it's cheaper for UKPlc to give the money to a third party to do the job on a contractors basis so there's no hiring costs, pensions etc to worry about.

That's where NGOs are helpful. They can recruit Guardian reading, governement and military hating middle class champagne socialists on short term contracts who are Moreno interested in getting 'talking points on their CV and dinner party topical conversation' rather than getting the job done.

You'll also have a certain problem recruiting DFiD personnel. Do I
A) work for an organisation so risk averse that when I'm in a dodgy part of the world where I'll be restricted to living on a dry camp and having to take an armoured convoy everywhere.

B) work for an organisation where I have massive degree of freedom to go drinking and eating with minimal restrictions on my movements whilst being able to go to NGO parties and shag female NGOs who are as desperate for sex as you are because you're in a crappy part of the world and social norms from back home don't really apply so you can work hard and play hard.

Neither USAid or DFID do any work themselves*. They are umbrella contracting agencies who outsource the work. To, er, NGOs.

Need some mines cleared? DFID will find someone. Wells dug? Ditto. A hospital built?

DFID would have to be bigger than Ben Hur to do all of the jobs they fund if they did them directly.

In fact, DFID was probably the main funding channel for government cash to DFID. So, IMHO DFID share some of the blame for their crappy, complacent and 'easy life' contracting processes.

* Nor do the various UN agencies like UNICEF. Their country staff again subcontract the work, for which the UN takes a hefty slice off the top.

BTW None of the UN agencies are themselves 'NGOs' but are 'International Organisations' and their staff are actually referred to as 'international civil servants'. It is to them you should look for the business class travel and the champagne lifestyle in the field. Most NGO field staff are pretty poorly paid. It's in their HQ that you tend to find the big bucks.

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Joshua Slocum

Book Reviewer
I often wonder whether when these natural disasters occur, if we took the option of leaving well alone
would the local people organise themselves and resolve the situation far quicker ?
I often wonder whether when these natural disasters occur, if we took the option of leaving well alone
would the local people organise themselves and resolve the situation far quicker ?
You mean like we do when Somerset and Dorset are flooded for weeks on end, or when disasters affect other parts of the UK?
Who knows? Might motivate some to do something about fixing things themselves if outside help wasn't guaranteed.

Moz floods - every year the same areas get hit and villages flooded. NGOs go in and fix things, handing out new kit all round.

Just before the wet season you'll see a lot of last year's new kit for sale in the markets. When the floods come you claim everything was lost and the nice bloke from the NGO replaces it for you. You then go back to the village built in an area you know will be flooded and wait for the same to happen next year.

As long as the sugar remains on the table you'll have ant problems.
Some off these stories are pure gold dust , where are the journos when you need them ?
Oh but Journos don't want to write stories about 'boring' corruption. They want stories about 'Caligua' style orgies.

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