Often I read comments about the UN (or NGOs for that matter) delivering aid, picturing 'us' driving in posh cars, living in posh villas, earning skyhigh wages working in nice airconditioned offices. I think this is a bit of a blindfolded way to look at things...
The 'UN' is not ONE big thing... First of all split off the policital arm, the peace keeping arm, and the administrative arm (mostly coordinated out of New York), from the humanitarian arm. I work for the humanitarian arm.
While there are many areas where I wished the UN (as a whole), could downscale and cut down on the fat, there is far less fat in the humanitarian arm. Within the humanitarian arm of the UN, there are many different organisations. We're one of the largest, and one of the slimmest - I am proud to say..And when people generalize the criticism and put 'all UN organisations' in one garbage can, I invite them to look at these pictures. These are our international staff living quarters in Bor, South Sudan. A tent. The bed takes up half of the space. No closets or cupboards. In the evening, one needs to go with a stick through the clothes and stuff stacked on the ground, to make sure there are no scorpions, snakes and other venim hiding in between. It gets hot. REAL hot in South Sudan. And humid. A fan is a luxury. AC is out of the question.
When you need to go to the toilet (well, 'toilet' is a rather generous word - see some of the future posts), at night, you need to put on all your clothes otherwise the moskitoes "will pick you up and drag you away". And use your flashlight to ensure you don't step on anything that will bite or sting you.
Note that nothing drags from the bed onto the floor (moskitoe net, bed linnen). This is to avoid anything crawling into your bed... Practice learns.
The only luxury one has, is the telephone and data (Internet) connectivity. This is where our friend Cyprien and his ICT crew come in. They extended the wireless LAN and voice network from the office into the living compound, so staff can at least 'do something' when back in their tents. Even if it is just "work from my tent".
Here is Cyp in front of his tent in Bor, South Sudan.
Pictures courtesy of Cyprien Hiniolwa, Enrico Pausilli, Ulrik Pedersen. All in South Sudan