Fostering partnership in humanitarian aid and disaster relief
Wishart, John P.
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Humanitarian aid operations are a social and interactive enterprise among a variety of international partners. There are currently many initiatives that attempt to enhance collaboration between United States Government Agencies, foreign governments, international government organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private volunteer organizations. The diverse nature of organizations and numbers of groups involved in a complex humanitarian emergency is extraordinary. Participants must understand there are multiple factors that impact the collaborative capacity of groups in humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations. They need to understand that some NGOs will work with the military and some will not. Military forces must respect NGO needs for independence, neutrality, transparency, and impartiality. However, when actors can come to an agreement regarding contact within these environments the sum of their efforts will be greater than their individual contributions. Face-to-face contact is crucial in enhancing collaborative capacity. Individuals build trust through face-to-face contacts which can translate to more frequent contact using other less personal or social modes of communication. Collaboration is an iterative process. Participants must build collaborative capacity over time by focusing on developing swift trust and be aware of cultural understanding. Participants must also use face-to-face contact at the initial meeting. After swift trust is established, participants can use media of decreasing richness over time, but should schedule face-to-face meetings to ensure collaboration is maintained.
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