Friday, September 17, 2010

Aid distribution: creating order out of chaos.

R4 Today reports (audio) on disorder as aid is distributed to Pakistani flood victims. It makes good television (yes I know, Today is radio, but you see it on TV) : harrowing scenes of desperate, hungry people mobbing lorries filled with food, fighting each other, some going away with nothing.

It doesn't have to be like this. 

The waiting crowd organises itself into groups of about 5 people. The groups will normally be of family or acquaintance, but unaffiliated individuals (e.g. orphans) can form their own cluster. They may be larger than 5, but in this case, they will get less per individual.

Each group elects a leader.

The leaders form another group of 5, until the whole crowd is represented by five persons.

When the aid lorry arrives, the five step forwards, and the aid is divided into five piles.

Each pile is divided further by the elected leaders, and back along the chain until a ration is dispersed to each individual.

Materials can now be exchanged between those who have too much of one commodity and too little of another.

This rule (which could be called Panchayat, the Hindi name of the process) transforms a chaotic mob of struggling individuals into an orderly and efficient system for equitable distribution of aid materials.

Call me a socialist if you want, I do not care. I just cannot see that fighting is a necessary part of aid distribution.


Garrat Elector said...

Don't see why you call this "socialism", it just seems like a reasonable enough sort of idea.

I must say though, if I was hungry, cold and desperate, surrounded by lots of other equally desperate men with guns (and Pakistan is a very heavily armed society) and maybe better family connexions than me, I'm not sure I'd be laid back enough to just sit back and wait, trusting all the individuals all the long way up the chain to all behave fairly ...

DocRichard said...

It was a kind of irony, but the chaos at distribution points is every man for himself (and I use the man-word consciously). If the crowd organises itself into an orderly group, it becomes a society.