J.M. JOK (1996). Information Exchange in the Disaster Zone: Interaction Between Aid Workers and Recipients in South Sudan
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The author’s experience of information collection and analysis in the Bahr-el-Ghazal region of south Sudan is reflected on here. The paper suggests that existing strategies of needs assessment are often based on misunderstandings about the cultural, social and economic conditions of war-affected communities. Furthermore, the needs assessment process has taken on a life of its own: for the intended beneficiaries it is often a wearying experience, but one which can yield benefits if the ’correct’ answers are provided to sometimes ridiculous and often insensitive questions. For the assessors, participatory patterns of data collection provide an apparently scientific justification for decision-making in contexts characterised by complex political and moral dilemmas and organizational confusion….