Late night in the office

Well, seems like even working in a disaster relief effort there is still late night office work to be done…

I have just finished drawing up about the forth or fifth draft of the layouts for the three shelter camps in Kallar, for where each of 250 shelters along with toilets, washing facilities and access roads are positioned. Why so many drafts?

Well, firstly it’s the fact that I’m the third person to have been given the task, with the previous two people having been on the job for just a short duration and not long enough to have completed fully or properly. Then there’s the fact that the locals putting up the shelters are not always adept at reading the plans – such as today where they had the plan around the wrong way, even though the lagoon was clearly marked on it – and so rather than have them undo the construction they have done, I am redesigning the plans around what they have done. And then there’s the local Divisional Secretary’s office, who change their minds almost daily on exactly how many shelters they require. And considering we have to coordinate with three different NGOs for the shelters, the toilets and washing facilities, and the water distribution, this changes both the plan and what we need built each time.

Anyway, finally done, and this time making allowances for unforseen (ie. presumed local government) changes.

I guess the final question for some might be, why is some guy with absolutely no experience at disaster relief and/or relief camp construction drawing up the plans and coordinating the NGOs for deliverables?

Well, maybe the best explanation to give is a little story that Justin, a Canadian also helping out around here, told me from when he took a few days off and headed down south to Arugam Bay. Apparantly the Swiss, French and German Red Cross teams were having serious issues with each other, and just could not cooperate at all. So much so in fact that they were doing such things as cutting the electricity to the others hotel, re-poluting wells that the other/s had cleaned out, and similar. It got so bad apparantly that the local hotel owners and the residents made them leave town, they were such a negative influence.

Now, I don’t think all – or even most – NGOs are as bad as that, however by having the local community coordinating what the larger NGOs are delivering it does avoid a lot of this potential conflict. And hence, I’m doing what I’m doing.

Yes, so water one week, shelter camps another. Nothing if not a varied existence I guess. Anyway, must get to bed now. Have to up at dawn tomorrow to take these redrawn plans down to the sites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *