UN Frustrations

While in Haiti doing relief work in March of 2010 I ran into a frustration which I’d like to air. Namely, it was the United Nations (UN) that drove me crazy.I was asked/assigned to be the point person to communicate with the UN on a donation of water filters, desperately needed, for a number of camps.

What the issue comes down to is that the UN is a challenge to work with. I believe they want to do good. I believe that they want to help, but… Argh!

To some extent the challenges they face are due to their need to report back. But the challenges that I faced in getting this offered aid to the people who needed it the most was unacceptable, to me.  Taking time to fill out the appropriate paperwork, counting and then re-counting camp residents, making sure the photographers were available, et cetera; in all it took over two weeks after I began working on the task to get the water filters passed out that they actually made it into the hands of those who needed them.  I started working a month after the earthquake.  A month and a half to clean water?!

While I’m sure the requirements were put into place for good reason (I heard that people were selling tarps for $75 on the blackmarket) it is still frustrating when the need is visible, and immediate.

It seems like while cover their own needs for reporting, the UN is not always thinking or able to think in terms of systems.  Such as how to most efficiently get the job done.

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