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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist.


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07.10.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

The Law of Existing Resources - Episode #004




Good morning everybody! Today we are going to be talking about one of the missing chapters of the book. It's called the Law of Existing Resources. In some ways, you probably already practice this, in other ways you have not consciously thought about it I'm guessing, because it's something that is really obscure in niche like. And it's something that I see time and again results. The first time I really started thinking about it, was Haiti, the first disaster trip that I have to travel to a foreign country. I did not know anybody and there were reports that there were shortages of water. So once I arrived in the Dominican Republic and started thinking about this bus ride over to Haiti, we bought a couple of cases of water. The problem with this was that we had to carry the water in our bags once we got off the bus. Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to go too far. But the following day, we had to travel a couple of miles. Carrying that water, became a real pain. Now, you may think that water is everywhere but we didn’t know how hard it was to get water in Haiti. Clean water. And the problem with not getting clean water is if you're drinking sketchy water, you might get sick. So this becomes a real problem when you're doing disaster aid work.

Happened again in Japan, as I was traveling into the devastated areas, I had heard reports that water was being rationed and I didn’t know if I was going to have access to water so I actually brought a little handcart.. 3 cases of water! I obviously not going to have any shortages of water. So I was carrying this water with me and it slowed me down.

In Haiti, we wanted to get clothing for all these orphanages that we were serving and clothing was getting harder and harder to find. And so we started looking at having Salvation Army ship clothing in from the United States and what I learned from somebody at the convoy of hope in a discussion with him... was very insightful! He said he always tries to get aid in the country instead of shipping it in from the United States. Number one reason is... it's more expensive in the United States. Number two, you have to pay for the shipping to get it over there. And number three, it takes longer. And so while the devastated areas in the country may not have clothing if you travel just maybe 20 or 30 or 40 miles away to the part of the area of the country where typically you will be able to find it. This has happened to me many times in disaster situations.

I remember the time in the Philippines where we actually bought $35,000 worth of food. It had flown into the Philippines from Florida. It was very expensive. It was very time consuming. The costs bang for the buck was not very good. It turned out that that food has arrived just in time to the right places but it would have been smarter I think to go to the outer cities, the non-devastated areas in the Philippines to acquire that food. We would have been able to buy 3 or 4 times as much food. And the shipping would have been almost nothing.

This is the real theme for the Law of Existing Resources. When you are traveling to an area and you have a need for a certain to be used in that area. The only time you should bring assets with you is when that commodity is no longer common. When the demand is very high for something, that is when you should bring it. If you know for sure you can get it in the location you are traveling to, then you should definitely try not to bring it. For example, an interpreter. In the first couple of trips that I went disaster zones, I would bring an interpreter with me or somebody who knew the language. I will pay for their flight or get their ticket over there so that is very expensive. When in fact, there are plenty of interpreters in the country. I just had to find them. I didn’t know where they were. It sounds like really kind of super niche type of piece of information. But the fact of the matter is if you know you can get it where you are going, it doesn’t make sense to bring it. Lighten your load. The faster you travel the sooner you can go. All those things come into play. I know it's kind of super niche thing and this is why I did not include it in the book. If you take the example of water, it is typically pretty common but that changed when we had disasters. Now, there is water purification, water filters, typically you can get water almost everywhere.

In Nepal, we were hiking for days we just go get the water out of rivers. That made my pack much lighter. The very interesting piece of knowledge that I got is the Law of Existing Resources. When something is common, available, in low demand and you can get it anywhere, it doesn’t make sense to try to bring it from somewhere else. In any event, that is Law of Existing Resources. Hope you enjoyed it. See you guys next time!

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