I sat around thinking about a title and nothing sums it up better than crisis. For Kenya is witnessing a major food crisis and it is spawning into smaller and smaller crises mostly contributed by the lack of an effective disaster response government agency.

It is encouraging seeing how Kenyans have responded and the drive and zeal to solve the problem locally. At such trying times, Kenyans have an uncanny ability to come together to add value to their country in unison. For a country that was dangerously divisive and at the brink of war a couple of years back and a country in which certain arms of government seem to thrive on intransigence, the response by the mwananchi (common man/woman) has been overwhelming. Nonetheless parallel programs exist replicating efforts and wasting scarce resources. This should not be a battle from for egoes and or competition. Furthermore marketing and publicity should not be masqueraded as chartable actions. Leaders and stakeholders alike must have a conscience and rethink their actions, people are dying….

Technology and social media seems to be playing a pivotal role in relaying and amplifying snippets of information relating to the crisis with a bias towards the fundraising component of the solution, which is currently attracting a lot of effort and publicity. Nonetheless, the problem is much bigger than that.  A few years ago, drought was an issue, a decade ago, drought too was an issue, and another few decades ago drought too was an issue. Recurrent cycles of drought and famine cannot be solved by sporadic mobilisation of resources on a need by need basis. Famine is predictable and is part and parcel of the realities of life. Yes food and help should be accorded to victims but are safeguarding their future? Are we doing justice to the goodwill of donors? What is being done is treating a symptom not the cause perse, more has to be done by all stakeholders in finding a lasting solution towards this sorry reality.

What can be done in the short-term especially in the context of information technology including social media? Technology is applied well solves problems and promotes efficiency, on the contrary if it applied haphazardly we add complexity to our lives and processes, this could be catastrophic especially in a scenario in which we are dealing with precious and fragile lives. Below are my thoughts -:

1.Aggregate Stakeholders: All leading entities and individuals working on the problem need to come together since they are working on the same goal

2. Establish Secretariat: Some sort of leadership and co-ordinating entity needs to be formed with representation from all major stakeholders. Kenya Red Cross for example is playing a pivotal role in the relief efforts. Can they take a lead on this? Also secretariat needs be broken down on to functional domains i.e Needs Assessment, Communication, Operations, Logistics e.t.c

3. Goals: Identify problems and desired states/solutions as well as grouping into what is achievable in the short, medium and long terms. Mapping to resources should be realised and thought through

4. Action Points: Listing of steps to achieve goals across functional domains

5.Technology: Once some sort of roadmap and leadership as well as administration have been established towards achieving the stated goals, technology should then be plugged in order to fit into the processes. Its useless deploying a platform without data being fed into it by stakeholders. Also its pointless having an element of technology functioning well without the necessary structures around it to make use of the data or information. Technology is like a chain, its only as strong as its weakest link


    Very well said, Soud.

    High time someone looks a year ahead from now and works backward. We have the issue at hand, and the issues to come and someone needs to be giving attention ahead.

    We can fix the hole in the hull of Titanic, but we’ve got to change course if we’re to avoid the icebergs ahead.

    Mark added these pithy words on Aug 01 11 at 15:14

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