How Aid Works



Ever wanted an intimate chat with people who treat the wounded in wartime, fight epidemics and respond to disasters? Season three of our How Aid Works podcast continues to reveals secrets from the frontlines of aid. Get ready for a wild ride with larger-than-life, uplifting and occasionally tear-jerking stories. Pearls of wisdom are served for your listening pleasure, with black humour and down-to-earth honesty.If you've ever wondered how aid works, this is the show for you.


  • More than food and water

    More than food and water

    12/12/2017 Duración: 33min

    Nuran Higgins knows how hard it can be to live from hand to mouth, not knowing where the next meal is coming from. Once homeless, she is now helping to improve the way aid is delivered from Nepal to Afghanistan.

  • Poo is not taboo

    Poo is not taboo

    05/12/2017 Duración: 22min

    No matter whether you’re on a remote Pacific Island or in Syria’s largest city, toilets are critical to any humanitarian operation. Sanitation expert Pete McArdle gets to the very bowels of the matter.

  • What does a tap mean?

    What does a tap mean?

    28/11/2017 Duración: 25min

    Just once, try this: Walk a kilometre downhill, fill three buckets with water and carry them back home. Then you’ll have the faintest sense of what clean water means to millions of mothers and their children around the world. Celeste Swain talks about the things that change once people get access to water:  from everyday things like avoiding snake bites, to life-changing things like the opportunity to go to school or get a job.

  • Piles of cash and the balance of life

    Piles of cash and the balance of life

    21/11/2017 Duración: 21min

    To run an Ebola treatment you need big piles of cash. In this age of plastic cards and electronic transfers, providing aid costs money. And while you’re handling the finances for a multi-million dollar recovery program for a whole country, where do you find time to teach yourself to swim and compete in a triathlon? Meet the Red Cross iron woman of finance, Patrea Ryan, who helps explain where the money goes and how it helps.

  • Switching realities

    Switching realities

    14/11/2017 Duración: 33min

    One minute you’re in the Himalayas of northern Pakistan helping communities recover from devastating floods. The next minute you’re in an outback Aboriginal community in Central Australia helping Aboriginal women give birth. How do you switch realities and cope with the culture shock? Nurse Yvonne Ginifer shares her secrets.

  • Worlds most dangerous animal

    World's most dangerous animal

    07/11/2017 Duración: 19min

    Every day, silent plagues of mosquito-borne diseases are killing thousands around the globe and Kym Blechynden is leading the charge to beat them. Working across the Asia-Pacific, how do you take on the mighty mosquito to stop killer diseases like dengue, malaria and zika in their tracks?

  • Passing the baton

    Passing the baton

    31/10/2017 Duración: 31min

    What’s it like having an aid worker for a father? How does that change the way you see the world? In this special discussion, veteran aid worker and humanitarian legend, Bob Handby passes the baton to his son, water engineer Mark. They reveal how a love for humanity is handed down the generations.

  • Fighting 18th century diseases in 2017

    Fighting 18th century diseases in 2017

    24/10/2017 Duración: 31min

    Why the hell does cholera still exist? Libby Bowell, who’s been tackling preventable and horrifying diseases for several years, explains the perfect storm of conditions that come together to cause an epidemic.

  • More intelligent aid

    More intelligent aid

    17/10/2017 Duración: 24min

    Is it time for more intelligent aid?  Red Cross International Director, Peter Walton, reflects on his days in the field and how we can turn aid on its head; from using drones to help in disasters, to using local Pacific businesses to supply relief goods to their own communities.

  • Navigating a cultural minefield

    Navigating a cultural minefield

    10/10/2017 Duración: 30min

    Imagine facing thousands of people needing shelter after an earthquake. Then imaging trying to coordinate shelter arrangements in three languages at once.  Shelter specialist Leeanne Marshall shines a light on the challenges of delivering one of the fundamental necessities of life; a roof overhead.

  • Modern day Florence Nightingales (part two)

    Modern day Florence Nightingales (part two)

    03/10/2017 Duración: 47min

    Modern day Florence Nightingales explore the big questions in emergency health: how do you provide medical care with minimal equipment? How do you keep your cool when people are dying around you because there aren’t enough doctors, nurses, medicines or time? Why are children still dying of hunger? How do field hospitals work?

  • Modern day Florence Nightingales (part one)

    Modern day Florence Nightingales (part one)

    26/09/2017 Duración: 46min

    Three Florence Nightingale Medal recipients reveal what it means to follow in the footsteps of the woman who inspired the international Red Cross Movement. Cath Salmon shares a story of binding shattered limbs in a war field hospital, Ruth Jebb cares for a man whose his wife was washed away in typhoon floods and Anne Carey talks about how local volunteers beat Ebola in West Africa.

  • Congratulations! You’re forever a misfit

    Congratulations! You’re forever a misfit

    06/11/2016 Duración: 32min

    The mission’s over. Time to catch up with your mates and a season’s worth of Game of Thrones. Except that people treat you differently after you’ve worked in an Ebola zone. And you’ll never watch the news in the same way again. Aid work leaves its unique stamp on you.

  • Advice to my younger self

    Advice to my younger self

    23/10/2016 Duración: 23min

    Learn to manage risk, because someone will shoot at you. Stop being so damn idealistic. Sit back and listen. There are no heroes, least of all you. Our guests share advice they wish they’d heard when they started their careers in aid work.

  • Equifinality


    09/10/2016 Duración: 30min

    What could possibly go wrong on a relief mission? Well… border disputes, power outages, strikes, random epidemics, natural disasters, insurgencies, rains shutting down roads and governments being overthrown. You’ll see why aid work needs an indomitable spirit.

  • Love in the hot zone

    Love in the hot zone

    25/09/2016 Duración: 29min

    Listen up, Humanitarians of Tinder! It can be hard to maintain relationships with family, let alone find love, when you’re going from mission to mission in high-security zones. We talk honestly about the birds, the bees and the precautions.  

  • A water stop in an apocalypse

    A water stop in an apocalypse

    11/09/2016 Duración: 33min

    How do you feel watching families flee in an apocalyptic sea of people? How do you cope with an Ebola nightmare sweeping before your eyes? And what passes through your mind when you witness an exploding donkey amid drought and violence?

  • The coffin on the bus and other tales of horror

    The coffin on the bus and other tales of horror

    29/08/2016 Duración: 25min

    Sometimes you’re faced with a carful of corpses. Sometimes you have to drive the body of a bomb victim home to her parents. Sometimes you have to treat an illness so contagious that other doctors have already died. We discover what it’s like to be an emergency health worker… and why you should always pack a scarf in your travel bag.

  • 4 minutes to save the world

    4 minutes to save the world

    14/08/2016 Duración: 36min

    Every minute is a matter of life or death when a disaster strikes or a conflict breaks out. Aid workers are in a race against time: whether to treat the ill and injured before it’s too late or get relief supplies to inaccessible locations. Our guests explain how order emerges from chaos.

  • A week of terror and inadequacy

    A week of terror and inadequacy

    31/07/2016 Duración: 24min

    This week we look at your very first mission as an aid worker: whether it’s Pakistan after an earthquake, a refugee camp in South Sudan or a tiny Tongan island. We reflect on how expectation differs from reality and how you see the world afterwards.

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