GPS and cameras in Afghanistan
"So how do you track cash-for-work in a place like Helmand, where fighting still rages? John Stephens, who manages programs in Afghanistan for the U.S. charity Mercy Corps, came up with one solution: Use cameras with GPS to verify aid projects in insecure places where expatriate staff can’t oversee projects in person."
"The idea is simple: If an area is too dicey to send in expats, Mercy Corps sends in Afghan staff with GPS cameras — either a Nikon point-and-shoot, or a Garmin handheld GPS with built-in camera — to verify that the projects are actually being undertaken in the right places, so they can pay wages. The data is then uploaded to a Google Earth–style program, so Mercy Corps — which implements USAID projects — can track projects and their participants."
Let me get this straight. National staff is being sent into potentially hot conflict zones with a digital camera and GPS and told to take pictures? I hope there's a little more to this story in terms of risk management. I suspect packing a Western camera and GPS receiver around the Helmand Province might just be viewed as spying by the Taliban. What do you think? With some potentially nasty consequences for the Afghan employee. On the surface this sounds like using national staff as, excuse the pun, Canon-fodder.
Any readers from Mercy Corps that are hip to the details care to comment?