Shifting the Power: Decolonizing Aid and Development

Safa
Rethinking Development Podcast
26 min readMay 18, 2020

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Season 2: Episode 7 of the Rethinking Development Podcast

Arbie Baguios is currently a Programme Quality and Accountability Specialist at ActionAid UK. He studied development studies at the Ateneo de Manila University and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has worked with Save the Children, the British Red Cross, ActionAid and others in the Philippines and the UK with missions to other countries. In Sept 2019 he founded Aid Re-Imagined, an initiative to help usher the evolution of aid towards justice and effectiveness through deep, radical, and evidence-based reflection and research. He has drafted a re-imagined aid model in a bid to offer a framework for designing, implementing and evaluating aid projects that are just and effective. He speaks to us about how development is taught in different countries, decolonizing project management tools such as the logframe, power dynamics amongst donors and agencies, pushing back against the status quo, audit culture, working in crisis mode, being more reflective, ActionAid’s feminist principles, accountability as the responsible use of power, the new frontiers of the aid and development sector, his Aid-Re-Imagined project, and much more. He joins us from London, UK.

Editors note: This transcript has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Transcript

Intro: The more that I work within the international development and humanitarian aid sector, the more that my ideology has shifted and the more that I see that things aren’t black and white and in fact, especially in the development and aid sector, there are very much gray areas where solutions are really dependent on the context. As we like to say in this sector, it’s complex. It’s not always a one size fits all. And I’ve sort of become more pragmatic, personally, in my approach, in the way that I think about development and humanitarian aid. And it’s also interesting to see this from the other side. I did my masters here at LSE. It’s just interesting to hear how development and aid is being talked about in a global north institution, versus how it was being discussed in the Philippines. And so I think having those two perspectives is really enriching and really interesting.

Safa: Welcome back to the Rethinking Developing Podcast. My name is Safa and I will be your host as we speak with and learn from practitioners of all backgrounds and affiliations around the world. In our conversations, we aim to rethink ethical behavior and best practices through the lived experiences and personal reflections of different practitioners. Our guest today is Arbie Baguios. Arbie is currently a Program Quality and Accountability Specialist at ActionAid UK. He studied development studies at the Ateneo de Manila University and London School of Economics and Political Science. He has worked with Save the Children, the British Red Cross, ActionAid and others in the Philippines and the UK with missions to various other countries. In September 2019, Arbie founded Aid Re-imagined, an initiative to help usher the evolution of aid towards justice and effectiveness through deep radical and evidence based reflection and research. He has drafted a re-imagined aid model in a bid to offer a framework for designing, implementing and evaluating aid projects that are just and effective. Arbie, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

Arbie: Thank you very much for having me here.

Safa: Wonderful. Can we begin with you telling us about some of the experiences or reasons that drew you to studying development studies and working in this field initially?

Arbie: That’s a great question. I’ve always wanted to be a public servant. And I guess I’ve been influenced by my family. My mother is actually a humanitarian aid worker. She started out as a nurse in the Philippines, and then eventually got a job with an international UN agency, the International Organization for Migration, working in the Philippines, and eventually she became an international aid worker. And when I was growing up, she would always tell me stories about her work and her job and it sounded really fulfilling. It’s been difficult for her because obviously she had to be away from her family quite a lot, but I have always felt this inclination for what she’s done. It’s given me a sense of public service. And initially when I was younger, I wasn’t so sure of becoming an aid worker and following her path, I actually wanted to be a public servant within the Philippines. And I was actually studying to become a lawyer. I did development studies, but I was thinking it was going to be my pre law course in the Philippines. But I thought that it might also do me good to see the world and experience being in places other than the Philippines. And I thought that one way to do that, to combine my desire to do public service as well as to experience the wider world is to be in the international development and humanitarian aid sector. So that’s how I started my career in aid.

Safa: I see, very interesting. In terms of shaping your thinking about development and how the work is done, what would you say were the different approaches that you picked up from your studies in the Philippines versus your studies in the UK and the different approaches or ideas or thought processes that were shared in each country, so to speak.

Arbie: So when I studied development studies in university in the Philippines, it was slightly different from what is more commonly known as development studies for example, here in the UK, or in the US, were they are studying more of international institutions and NGOs etc. When I studied development studies in the Philippines, it was very much focused on Philippine society. So we got to know how our government works, how public policymaking in the Philippines works, poverty in the Philippines, disaster risk reduction in the Philippines, but also learning a bit of lessons from other countries, but it was mostly focused on the Philippines. So it really gave me a local and national view on how things work in my own country. And when I was in university, how can I say this, I was a bit of a radical, I guess, I was organizing protests in the university and was participating in protests outside of the university. I even wrote my undergrad dissertation on protest movements. And I was very much informed by specific ideologies. If I could describe it, maybe I would even say, kind of like a Marxist ideology. But the more that I work within the international development and humanitarian aid sector, the more that ideology has shifted, and the more that I see that things are not black and white, and in fact, especially in the development and aid sector, there are very much sort of like gray areas where solutions are really dependent on the context. As we like to stay in this sector, it’s complex. It’s not always, you know, a one size fits all. And I’ve sort of become more pragmatic, personally, in my approach and in the way that I think about development and humanitarian aid. And it’s also interesting to see this from the other side. I did my masters here at LSE. And it’s just interesting to hear how development and aid is being talked about in a global north institution, versus, you know, how it was being discussed in the Philippines. And so I think having those two perspectives is really enriching and really interesting.

Safa: Absolutely. You mentioned the gray areas and the complexities — at what stage, or in your earlier work experiences, were there certain moments or specific examples or experiences where you were confronted with the power dynamics or unequal power relations that exist in the industry, between organizations and communities or even within organizations? Are there or were there specific moments where you were really confronted with that?

Arbie: Yeah, definitely. I think I can speak of my personal experiences specifically. When I was working for one of the organizations that I’ve worked for here in the UK, I was actually working within their Philippines team. I was employed in the UK, but working on a Philippines project. And this was as a response to typhoon Haiyan, which was a huge cyclone that devastated the Philippines in 2013. And throughout my interactions with not just people within my organization, but in the wider sector, I would always hear, for example, oh, there’s just a lack of capacity in this community or there’s a lack of capacity in this country and we need to do capacity building. And I’m thinking to myself, that doesn’t quite fit the reality that I know in the Philippines where there are a lot of capable people and there are a lot of capable individuals and capable local and national organizations who can do the task and who are or who have been doing the task for years and years. And working in that organization, as someone who supported the Philippines and hearing these conversations, really opened up my eyes to the dynamics within the aid sector and how there is somewhat an inequality between global north institutions versus global south institutions. And since then, I can see it in the sector. And I don’t think that it’s a particular organizations fault or a particular individuals fault, but I think it has more to do with how the system has been designed and how the system has emerged over the years — when a disaster happens, or a crisis occurs, global north countries can just send in their aid and send in their staff. And now we have created this bureaucracy, and rightly so for accountability and transparency purposes, sort of like an audit culture or compliance culture within organizations where local organizations or local communities are always measured by standards that have been developed in the global north. And it may be useful in some contexts, but there is certainly a power dynamic and imbalance there.

Safa: Yes, absolutely. Thinking about those issues, reflecting on it, what did you aim to accomplish in terms of your own work or your own position in the industry in terms of maybe changing things or not necessarily changing things, but just your own role and your own motivations of what you want to contribute to?

Arbie: I think having this perspective of being from the global south and seeing how it works there, and now that I’ve worked in the headquarters of global north institutions, I think it really gives me perspective on the two different sides. And I very much see my personal role as, well, firstly, trying to bridge that gap or bridge that disconnect between the global south and the global north. And at the same time, now that I find myself within the global north institutions, I’m hoping that I can be a champion for the global south and I can advocate for the reforms that I want to see. An example that I could give is when I was working for an organization before and I was supporting a project in Ethiopia, I was kind of like a project support / grant manager sitting at the headquarters. And I was tasked in supporting the country office, the Ethiopia country office, in drafting a report and when they sent back a first draft version, there was a question — and I’ve actually talked about this in other places, but I think this is such a good example — one of the questions the donor report template asks is what impact do you think the project made for the people in the communities? And our colleagues from Ethiopia basically wrote, oh, this has made the communities more hopeful. And that’s it. That’s all they wrote. And at first, I even showed it to my colleagues and we were laughing about it and we were like, Oh, you know, this is not the right answer. So I went back to them and said, Oh, you know, maybe you should change your answer and maybe you should talk about this and that, but later on, I reflected to myself and said, why? If they think that that is the biggest impact of the project, that is to make community members more hopeful, why isn’t that an impact in itself worthy of being reported? And so I really started to sort of like, think about the dynamics between this very specific task of project and grant management. And this is how I got writing about decolonizing grant management actually. It sounds fluffy, and it may sound like as if the scope is too broad, that you know, decolonizing project management, what does it actually mean? But for me, it means making sure that when we provide funding to organizations, and when we support them in managing grants or projects, that we should be more reflective about the tools and the ways of working that this sector has imposed on us from proposal stage to grant management stage to reporting stage, in all these stages it’s very much sort of like designed and driven by donors from the global north, and maybe we could reflect on is this really fit for purpose? Is this really what our colleagues in the global south can engage with? And is this something that makes their work more effective? There are lots of questions there and I don’t have all the answers but I think that really prompted my thoughts around it.

Safa: Definitely, very interesting. In terms of the process of decolonizing project management, you mentioned the tools that are used. In one of your public speeches you’ve talked about the history of the logframe and its connection to the US military. Could you maybe share a little bit about the process of discovering that and how your colleagues and your peers reacted when you shared that with them? What is their reaction? And has it elicited any changes or anything like that?

Arbie: Yeah. So I started looking into the history of the logframe because of that experience that happened. And you know, I was prompted to really think about, okay, so where does this logframe, this project management approach come from? I was thinking, there have been lots of projects across history. I mean, in ancient Egypt, for example, they built the pyramids, surely that is a project. I was thinking, how did they do that? In what point in history, did this project management approach start, and you know, how did we do projects before this project management approach? So when I was started looking into it, I discovered that it originated, the project management approach and the logframe approach that we use in the aid sector now, originated from the US military in the 1970s. And this was their way of making sure that projects in fact fed into US objectives. Because at the time, aid was very much tied to foreign policy objectives, unlike now, I suppose, where we have more freedom, to some extent, but before it was very much tied with US objectives, and this is their way of sort of like controlling and making sure that the projects are in line with US objectives. And I thought that this was really interesting and that, you know, this approach is still prevalent in the aid sector now. Whenever we would apply for funding or we would come up with a project, we still needed to write a logframe and to undergo the proposal stage to make sure that we have these controls in terms of monitoring and evaluation. And it has evolved in such a way that there are now more controls, and there are now more tools that we need to use to ensure accountability and transparency. And that’s great, but at the same time, have we made it in such a way that isn’t fit for purpose, and it’s actually a very top down way of working that creates more imbalance between the global north and the global south.

Safa: Part of the decolonizing process is acknowledging the history of these tools and the motivations that were behind creating them in the first place. So this is such a very interesting example of that.

Arbie: Definitely. Understandably, some people are resistant to this idea. And then they say, Oh, well, you know, it’s just a tool, right? How can a tool such as the logframe or the project management approach be colonial?And I think what people sometimes don’t realize is that somebody invented this tool, somebody has written that project template, somebody has written that report template and somebody is asking these specific questions and wanting specific information and data and that somebody has some power in their hands. And who is this somebody that’s created all of this? What are they trying to accomplish with this? It’s not a blank piece of document. Somebody made it. And so I think these power dynamics are quite subtle. And I think it’s about time that we discuss it as a sector. What are we really trying to do with these various tools and approaches?

Safa: Absolutely.

Arbie: Yeah, I think the power dynamics within the whole project cycle is still very much in favour of global north institutions. And sometimes it’s hard for global south organizations to engage with that. One example that I could give was when I was in Mozambique for an emergency response and this was for Cyclone Idai. This was just last year in 2019. And I was working for this organization and we saw that there was a need in this particular community. And there were donors who were obviously releasing a lot of funding and a lot of gifts in kind for this disaster. And we got approached by one donor, and then they said, well, we’re going to give you funding, and we want you to work in this location. And we sort of pushed back a bit and said, well, that particular community hasn’t been affected by the cyclone. Yes, they’re vulnerable and there is poverty there, but they haven’t been affected by the cycle and we want to prioritize those communities that have been affected by the cycle, but the donor insisted that we work there otherwise they wouldn’t be giving us the funding and because of organizational incentive to receive funding, then of course, we said yes. And I think — of course, in that situation, we had to say yes, because we also wanted to work in other communities and we wanted to deliver the aid now. But there’s something around there where the donor was able to sort of like dictate where some of the aid will go. And it was in a community that wasn’t affected by the cyclone. And so there’s a power dynamic there. At the same time for this response, we wanted to act quickly and be able to distribute cash and distribute in kind goods to affected communities. But one of the hindrances was that we needed to fill all these due diligence requirements and, you know, basically audit requirements and bureaucratic requirements, and it’s great that donors are requiring this for transparency and accountability purposes, but I think there is a balance that we need to achieve in making sure that we’re able to respond quickly without overburdening organizations that work in crisis mode. And a question in my mind during that time was have we swung too far in the direction of too much bureaucracy and too much audit culture? Another example that I could give is that a lot of donors require informal engagement for when organizations want to access their funds or they sometimes prefer providing funds to organizations that they’ve already funded in the past. And so the question now is how can local organizations without the resources, particularly from the global south, without the resources of larger international NGOs, engage with this process, especially when they don’t have the informal contacts that bigger INGOs might have or when they haven’t received previous funding. And so I’m reminded by the phrase, the rich gets richer, I’m now led to reflect if the same is true within the aid sector. Do only organizations with already existing big financial capabilities, are they the ones that are only growing? How can we bring in smaller, grassroots, local organizations, particularly in the global south? And how can we bring them in and engage with them in this whole funding process?

Safa: Yes, definitely. I think now also in a time of the coronavirus pandemic where a lot of smaller, grassroots organizations are losing their funding base and might need to shut down, this is a very important question to reflect on as a sector or as an industry. You spoke about working in crisis mode and your experiences in humanitarian settings, in that type of situation, what have been your experiences when it comes to the individual interactions that exist, not necessarily at the systemic level, but how colleagues treat each other, the relationship between supervisors and staff. Have you ever had to navigate cases of maybe abuse of authority or any kind of those situations where you think maybe — in the case of abuse of authority, for example, maybe it wasn’t handled well, or it could have been handled better? Just the challenges that exist when people are working together, people of different seniority levels, backgrounds, nationalities in that type of high pressure situation?

Arbie: What I’m going to say is that the humanitarian sector and the humanitarian community are comprised of really hard working people, well minded people, who really want to do the best for the communities in which they work and for the people that they work with. And I’ve been in situations where myself and my colleagues have worked for, you know, seven days week, 12 hours a day, non stop, for example in the cycle Idai response. And I’ve really seen the best of the humanitarian community in that respect. Although however, I’ve also seen some dynamics, which, again, make me reflect about the sort of inequality perhaps or the different mindsets that exist within the sector. I was once part of this response team where the team leader every morning when we were having a meeting would say at the end, well, now let’s go save some people … and I think that was done out of good intentions. And I think they thought they were trying to motivate people, but at least for me, personally, it came across as a bit off putting and you know, there’s this concept of the white savior complex, and maybe for some it is with a good intention, but it just didn’t strike the right right tone for me. And these power dynamics that I’ve been talking about can really be seen in not just our behavior, but also our language. You know, that was interesting. I’m lucky enough to have personally not experienced or witnessed any abuses of power or exploitation. But I know that through the stories that have come out, particularly within the last few years in the sector, there is still so much work to do around this issue. And I think that one way of tackling this is just being very mindful, personally, and take personal responsibility and being mindful of not just our actions and behaviors, but the language that we use and being more reflective about our actions as humanitarian workers. I think something that I’d like to see more within the humanitarian sector is reflectiveness. We’re used to being in emergency mode most of the time, and we have to do, do, do and act, act, act. And so we rarely have time to be reflective of our practices. And this is something actually that I really like about where I’m working now, at ActionAid UK, is that ActionAid UK has this thing called the feminist principles. So basically there are a set of ten behaviors and attitudes that one has to adhere to. They’re called feminist principles. And that’s how we work. You know, when I started to with ActionAid, I thought that Oh, it’s just one of those principles. They have it on their website. But the longer that I’ve been with the organization, the more that I can see that this is really at the forefront of people’s minds, you know, you’re reminded of the feminist principles in different meetings and in different settings, people always think about the power dynamics and people always think about how might this be interpreted by colleagues and I think that’s really, really useful. And it’s a good culture to have, to be reflective and mindful of the way that you act and work around other people.

Safa: In your work in program quality and accountability, are there parts of that process that involve reflecting on the ethical considerations? In monitoring ethical issues? Or is that not necessarily part of the process of program quality and accountability at the organizations you have been with?

Arbie: Yes, I think when talking about program quality and accountability, ethics should be considered. We may not call it ethics, but I think we definitely have to consider it and I personally try to consider whether what I’m doing is the right thing to do. And ultimately, I think that’s what ethics is all about. Is this the right thing to do? And, for me, part of my work is around accountability and at ActionAid they define accountability as the responsible use of power. And I think that that is very much an approach which the organization and myself personally find that is the right thing to do. We have to be responsible with the use of our power, being a global north institution, with the power that comes with being a global north organization, a big one at that. And I think that that is always at the forefront of my mind anyway, personally, how I not just conduct myself, but whether or not we’re taking the right approach. An example that I could give is that at ActionAid, we have this thing called the humanitarian signature, which is the framework that we try to follow when we’re providing humanitarian assistance to communities. And one of the elements of our humanitarian signature is shifting the power. And as I’ve said, this is not just organizationally, but also individually, am I shifting the power to my colleagues in the global south? And in turn, is our work shifting the power to local communities on the ground? And so I think that is an ethical consideration that prompts us whether this is the right thing to do or not.

Safa: Absolutely. I’d also like to speak about your passion project, the Aid Re-imagined initiative and what your vision for that was and the process of deciding to launch that and the work that you hope that it will contribute to?

Arbie: Yeah, so I started Aid Re-imagined, because, for me, I’m seeing that there are different areas or different frontiers in the international development and aid sector where reform is happening. The first area that I’m seeing is the effectiveness, evidence-based area and we see this in the rise of things like effective altruism, or, for example, the randomistas movement, where now we’re seeing more and more the gold standard is rigorous methodologies in implementing development projects, for example, through randomized control trials. And this is also reflected by the fact that the winner of the Nobel Prize in economics last year were the pioneers of the randomized control trial movement. The second area of reform that I’m seeing is around this decolonization, localization, shifting the power — so this area where you know, they’re talking more about power dynamics and politics and how we can really shift the power to global south communities, and how can we be sensitive to power dynamics in the aid sector. And then the third area that I’m seeing reform in the development and aid sector is this sort of like adaptive management, systems thinking frontier where we’ve seen initiatives like the doing development differently, or the building state capability, or the thinking and working politically, where they talk about complexity and systems thinking. And so these three areas, I think, are very useful and valuable and are really the step to the right direction. But what I find is that I think these three areas are not connected to each other at the moment, they’re not talking to each other. So in these three areas, there are different communities, different people who are championing these reforms and are advocating for the change they want to see, but I’m not sure that they’re talking with each other. And so what I’m hoping to achieve with Aid Re-imagined is to really bring all these three together and come up with a different way of thinking about development and aid.

Safa: So in terms of the actions or the activities, is it more kind of at a dialogue based level? Or are there projects you have in the works?

Arbie: So with Aid Re-imagined what I’m trying to do at the moment is just try to advocate this vision of a new way of thinking about aid, which is towards justice and effectiveness. And what I’ve done so far is develop this re-imagined aid model. And it’s currently in a sort of like a working paper stage. But I’ve started these conversations with these different communities and people from these different frontiers of reform in the aid sector to try and gather insights and conduct research into how can we think about aid differently. It’s a work in progress, watch this space, but I’m hoping that at some point soon, I can put it out there in the public and get more feedback and get more insights because this is something that I really believe in and I think that a lot of people are seeing the same thing as I am. And so hold hopefully, this conversation can continue to happen within the aid sector.

Safa: Absolutely. It’s a great initiative and we really support you. I also want to speak to you about your experiences with peers or colleagues or supervisors who’ve had a very important impact in your life or in your career or who have modelled behaviour that you have internalized and kind of taken on in your own work, have there been any such individuals?

Arbie: Yes, definitely. One individual that comes to my mind was my professor when I was an undergrad in university and his name is Leland Dela Cruz. And he’s actually or I think he used to be the Director of development studies department in Ateneo de Manila University, and he’s really influenced the way I think about development. I always go back to a quote that he said in one of our classes where he said, and I think he’s quoting someone, I don’t know who but he said if all you have is a hammer than all you will see are nails. And I think that’s really influenced my own worldview and my own pragmatism. As I mentioned to you before I was more ideological when I was an undergrad. And I always had a hammer mindset. And I always saw problems as nails, okay, this can be solved by this ideology or this theory. And this can be solved by this ideology or this theory. But actually, as I’ve said earlier, now that I’ve worked in the development and aid sector, and now that I’ve seen, you know, the reality, as opposed to being a naive undergrad, I think that he’s right. And he’s really influenced me in that. And this is something that I’ve also realized — when I was talking about complexity and systems thinking earlier — the world is complex, and one has to be adaptive and be able to use the right tool or the right mindset in different circumstances. And this is very much present in my work at the moment where there are different contexts. And so when we’re thinking about an emergency response for Ebola, the particular interventions that we’ve done there, can that be applied to, let’s say the coronavirus at the moment? And yes, some of the lessons can be learned, but it’s not going to be the same. And so you know, having that pragmatic mindset from my mentor, I think that’s really still with me today. And I always think about that.

Safa: You mentioned you’ve been working in the UK mostly, but with missions abroad, is that kind of a conscious decision you’ve made or what have been your experiences with feeling like people from diverse backgrounds are being awarded positions of leadership?

Arbie: That’s a great question. I suppose I can start by saying that I feel that my career trajectory has been slightly different from many people who work in the development and humanitarian sector. I come from the Philippines and I moved to the UK. And that’s for many reasons, personal and professional. And since then I’ve been based mostly here, but I’ve also worked in other countries temporarily. And I think, firstly, that that goes to show that it’s slightly changing, the career trajectories of people within the sector, maybe before, in the 1980s, or in the 1970s — I was listening to your podcast with Hugo Slim, and he was talking about how his career started and it just sounds like a totally different world to me — back then it was different and now something that we talk about in the humanitarian aid sector a lot is localization. And that’s usually interpreted as shifting the power and shifting resources to local organizations in different countries, particularly in the global south, and I think something that should also be talked about is shifting the power in terms of decision making and looking at who are the decision makers in big INGOs? And could we increase the diversity of decision makers at the headquarter level, for example. And so in the organizations that I’ve worked with, for example, at the British Red Cross and Save the Children, I’ve been a member of the diversity and inclusion groups internally within these organizations because I wanted to champion diversity in the workplace. And I think that has a real impact, not only do a lot of studies and evidence suggests that diversity and inclusion make an organization more effective, but at the same time, this is something that we preach in our sector, that we want to work with people who are marginalized or who come from different backgrounds. But I think that it’s also best when they’re represented within the organizations and with diversity, comes diversity of lived experience and diversity of perspectives as well. And I think that will really enrich the work of an organization. I also think that it’s a systemic issue, which goes beyond individual organizations. One example that I could always think about is when aid workers are working in, say, a global south country, and when they get kicked out of it, for example, for political purposes, there’s always an advocacy between organizations and they always advocate for Oh, you know, why are you kicking out aid workers, we should be allowed to stay and we should be allowed to work here. But then when you look at countries like the UK or in the Europe, for example, where you want to diversify the workforce and want to bring in people from the global south into these headquarters so that they can influence decisions making as well. But it’s often hard to do because of visa purposes. And something that I would really like to see us as a sector do is to advocate for reforms in this area. I mean, we say that we’re international organizations, maybe we should think about talking to the government or lobbying the government and think about ways in which we can bring people from the global south more easily to our headquarters, big multinational corporations do it. They’re able to sort of sponsor employees from the global south or from other places. And they do that because they believe that that makes their work more effective. As international organizations, maybe we should be thinking about doing the same thing. These big multinational corporations, they spend loads of money lobbying and advocating to the government to change their visa policies so that it would be easier for them to bring in the workforce they need. And maybe that’s something that we can think about as a sector.

Safa: That’s a great point. Yes. Earlier we spoke about humanitarian settings and being in crisis mode and having to work a lot and that kind of pressure, that kind of work schedule. Have you ever thought of pursuing other kinds of activities? Or have your motivations changed over the years? Have you ever felt kind of burnt out or anything like that? Or what would you say of your motivations and your desire to continue in this sector and in this industry?

Arbie: I’m enjoying what I do, and I’m happy where I am at the moment. And there are moments where I feel really stressed and things become difficult, particularly with this COVID-19 response where there have been a flurry of call for proposals and we’ve had to work longer hours and we actually had to work over the bank holiday in order to get these proposals through, and it’s really essential. And sometimes it can get really stressful. But I like what I do. And I’m hoping to continue my work in the humanitarian sector. But something that I would like to do as well is to do that more reflective side that I’ve spoken about earlier, which is why I started Aid Re-imagined, because I want to be able to bridge practice and research and reflection, I want to be able to write about and think about the way that we do things, and hopefully, through my reflection and research, try to influence the aid sector towards a better way of doing things, a way that is more effective and more just, and that reflects my personal values of say decolonization or shifting the power to people in the global south.

Safa: Absolutely. I think that’s very well said and it’s super important work and we wish you all the best in that. And I thank you so much for speaking with us today and talking about your experiences and sharing your thoughts. It’s really been great to hear from you and we really appreciate it. So thank you so much.

Arbie: Thank you so much Safa.

Safa: Thank you to our listeners! To keep up with our latest episodes you can listen to us on your preferred podcast provider and follow us on instagram @rethinkingdevelopment . If you have listener questions that you would like me to ask our future guests please feel free to email them to us at rethinkingdevelopmentpodcast@gmail.com. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all next time. Until then, take care.

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