Friday, May 05, 2006

AID WORKERS NETWORK: To keep you from having to reinvent the wheel

Aid Workers Network asks: "How many times have you reinvented the wheel?" And then they go on to help people working to relieve suffering from having to do just that. They explain what they are trying to do in the following way:

"When working in relief and development projects, we often face situations others have encountered before us. Sometimes we ask around and consult a few colleagues for their opinions and advice. Other times we "jump in at the deep end" and do as best we can under the circumstances.

"Aid Workers Network links relief and development field staff to share support, ideas and best practice. This web site is being developed by a team of experienced aid workers to provide a comprehensive resource for busy field workers needing practical advice and proven resources to help with their current work."

This organization must be making sense because they currently have 5605 members in 157 countries.

Aid Workers Network believes that it is a learning community of aid workers and it exists to "provide mutual support and practical advice based on experience."

"The Aid Workers Network is a place to ask questions and find answers. This happens at the Aid Workers Forum and through the weekly email bulletin, Aid Workers Exchange.

One strength of the network is that if the forum does not answer your question today, it can put you in touch with colleagues whom you can consult directly.

Their ambition is for to be a comprehensive "one-stop-shop" for field workers needing advice or resources to help with their current work. The web site provides links to other online resources which have been recommended by fellow field workers, as well as publishing original content where none exists elsewhere."

They say that some exchanges in their forum will in due course be edited to become new content for web pages. This is done to allow for easy reference. They also adapt existing documents to make the content more accessible to field workers needing quick reference, especially if they are using a slow connection.

The network is run by aid workers for aid workers. It is maintained by volunteers and membership is free. It depends on active contributions from a wide variety of aid workers and your contributions are welcome.

Begun in May of 2002 the project is still evolving and its web site says that it is still currently in a pilot stage. Because of this, they are still testing different options, to discover which best suit the practical needs of aid workers in the field and they welcome all feedback on making the network and the website as useful as possible.

Aids Workers Network acknowledges the financial support that it has received from Joel G Joffe Charitable Foundation, Oxfam, Save the Children and British Red Cross; and Aid Workers Network is registered in the UK as a not-for-profit company, number 04723251

In its organizational structure, Aid Workers Network is led by an Advisory Panel which guides a team of volunteer Authors and Facilitators who are work on the website.

Some of the features found at the web site are:
- Aid Workers Exchange
- Forum
- Advice Pages
- The Lighter Side
- About the Network

In addition to discussion forums specific to work being done in various African countries there are also discussion forums that are specific to projects in countries in Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.

Just to give you an idea of what type of information can be found at Aid Workers Network, consider the following, in addition to the forums there are Q&A sections on the following topics:

- Retirement, Bribes, Unconventional aid ...
- Child trafficking, Donor visits, Disability ...
- Health insurance, Sexual abuse, Sustainability ...
- Roundabout pumps, Civil society, Monitoring contractors ...
- Staff salaries, Gender and emergency assistance, Evaluation criteria for HIV/AIDS e- ucation ...
- Accountability, Fisheries, Street Kids ...
- Water committees, Poverty reduction, Old folks home ...
- Volunteering, Peacebuilding M&E, Documentation ...
- Staff evaluations, TBA documentation, Women's participation ...
- Building synergy, Education projects, Fundraising courses ...
- Capacity building, Logistics software, Irrigation advice, Ambulances, HIV initiatives, Emergency strategies
- Ambulances, HIV initiatives, Emergency strategies, Participatory monitoring, DDR, Contracts
- Participatory Monitoring, DDR, Contracts, Fundraising databases, MED in insecure camps, Managing from a distance
- Fundraising databases, MED in insecure camps, Managing from a distance, Conflict resolution, Labeling goods, Short-term gains

There are also informative articles on such topics as:

- Financial Management by Alex Jacobs
- Beneficiary Rights - Essential, Not Optional by Erik Johnson
- 3 Steps to Computer Virus Protection by Paul Currion
- Keeping Track of Fuel Use by Mark Butler
- Preventing a Vehicle Roll-Over by Mick Farmer
- Disability Equality in Practice by Alison Harris and Sue Enfield
- Addressing Demands for Programme Inclusion by Steven G. Loyst

There is a lot of information to be found at the Aid Workers Network. Join, Participate, Learn and Help. It is well worth the time.

Aid Workers Network

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