Business Life – Kabul’s war for talent

The Financial Times discusses recruiting for Kabul. FT often has excellent coverage on the nitty-gritty of relief and development work. This articles talks about the challenges of recruiting:

“Humanitarian-type people are attracted to the disaster circus, but we are beyond that here. It’s not a chronic crisis, but it’s not post-conflict either.”

I am not surprised by the staffing shortage. The world is full of altruistic adrenaline junkies who’ll go to a war zone if they can save people’s lives. It’s also full of warm fuzzy world savers who’ll spend 30 years teaching a village to grow their prickly pears more efficiently. What it’s not full of are people who want to do slow-speed capacity-building development work while also dodging bullets and kidnap attempts. The 50 people who do fit that profile probably all have jobs in Sri Lanka already.

I don’t really know what can be done to improve the staffing for development work in Afghanistan. Pay better, I suppose, but then you run afoul of donors and create an image of a bunch of mercenaries.

It could also point to a issue about the fit between the work being done and the context. Maybe we should move beyond the stereotypes, and trust in community knowledge. Maybe, if no one will go there, we’re doing something wrong and we need to re-think the kind of aid that’s being given.