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Offense or Defense?

Offense and Defense are popular terms in the U.S. to describe strategies in sports. In basketball, you are playing great offense when you are scoring a lot of points in the event that your opponent starts doing the same, you have a cushion and can still win the game. Defense is often most played when your opponent is close to winning or is doing well and is reactionary as you try to keep your opponent from scoring any more points.

As I read articles steeped in the development sector, in both preparation for Haiti and just in general at my job, (I work a global education nonprofit that works toward every child having access to a quality education) I am often struck with the lack of “before it happens” work that occurs before disasters or crises happen or “playing the offense” to rack up points in case something were to happen. So much of the development sector seems to be playing an extended defense approach (just barely staving off a win by negative factors) instead of really getting good at, and throwing in some offense.

Yes, we work on vaccinations, a great preventive measure, but really what other preventive measure is money allocated for? Education has proven itself as a way to increase economic growth, country stability, gender equity and health outcomes but UNESCO estimates that currently there is a 26 billion dollar funding gap in between what is currently being spent in countries on education and what is needed to ensure that all children have access to primary school (this does not include lower secondary, secondary or tertiary school) over the next three years. There are currently 132 million youth out of primary and secondary school.

A recent United Nations Human Development Report stated that unless swift action is taken in the area of climate change, the amount of those living in extreme poverty could increase considerably by 2050–1.9 billion from environmental degradation alone; 800 million wouldn’t be able to get out of extreme poverty due to environmental crises. Human development would be threatened and poor countries and those living in poverty would be decidedly more affected by the adverse effects of climate change.

I recently saw that 186 Alaskan villages are at risk due to climate change and it is estimated that 130 million could be needed just to completely relocate one village. As I think about all the money that gets pledged and disbursed defensively, AFTER, disasters or crises happen, I wonder what the impact would be of us all working offensively, before, instead of defensively, after. I think about as my trip to Haiti grows nearer, what the effect of the earthquake would have been if more money had been invested prior to instead of sent after the earthquake. But those thoughts should give rise to how we can invest now in the reconstruction to put some points on the board–working with organizations, like we are doing with the Deep Dive, that are investing and putting points on the board daily so the offense can just get better.

just my thoughts,



Image was sourced from Citizens for Global Solutions