Innocent Ukomba

Visionary, inChrist

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Can donor funding really fix African challenges, or should we empower African communities to address their own challenges?

Charity gives but does not really transform. For a very long time, donor assistance has been chanelled through to Africa and that really hasnt changed much. Could it be possible to birth a generation of people who are willing to be empowered with means of generating income that eventually get channeled back into communities for purposes of delivering renewal and transformation? How do we get communities to participate in the engineering of a promising future both for the continent and individual nations?

  • Jan 23 2013: Too much money were given to most African countries but unfortunately most African countries are awfully poor.l believe that Africa can survive or even thrive without a dime from the donors.Anyway most of money from donors are misused by the leaders.Africa needs something more powerful than money to help it become the best of the best.
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    Feb 5 2013: the greatest need in Africa is not donor funding because it has failed which means there must be something that Africa needs more than donor funding and my viewpoint is:Africa lacks practicality in the idea that it can't transform theory into practice we have degreed people but still can't transform knowledge into productivity,strategic generational projection in the idea that the problem didn't start today but it's something that accumulated over time however Africa being one of the most resourced continent i think this is where African problems are emanating from Africa has no power over the systems that governs them, the African systems are alluded to colonialism remember he who puts systems in place has the power to control Africa drove away colonial masters from a physical perspective but the colonial masters never loosed their mind why are the donors not teaching Africa to produce their own money i will allude also the African perpetuating problems to donors because they are promoting dependency syndrome i think what Africa needs is a drive towards a Spirit of ownership,belief in their own people,resources and begin to structure systems that work internally Africa needs to deal with corruption,leadership problems,superstitions and cruelty over it's people.
  • Feb 21 2013: Part of the problem is that Americans and people from other westernized nations have a habit of referring to Africa as one homogenized nation when this is far from the truth. Different nations in Africa experience different things, have different habits and respond to challenges and foreign aid differently. For example, foreign aid or assistance from an NGO might lead to greater corruption in Ethiopia but that same aid might also cause great change in Nigeria. For any sort of sustainable change to come about in any given African nation, there needs to be a change in mindset within that individual nation. Right now there is a tendency to forego dealings with governments based on the assumption that the majority of governments within African nations are inherently corrupt. While this might be the case, corrupt governments aren't something that should be avoided just because they can't be easily fixed. All problems are internal and no amount of foreign aid can help if these internal factors aren't fixed. It takes one person, one regime to corrupt a government and it takes the same amount of effort to fix a government. That being the case, westernized nations, IGOs, NGOs and whatever organizations that want to help need to approach the situation from a liberal standpoint based on cooperation. As in "we're here to help you with what you need, what exactly do you need?" rather than saying "this is what you need, do it this way or we won't help."
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      Feb 23 2013: Excellent thought. I endorse it.
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    Feb 2 2013: For the interest of anyone with a passionate commitment to understanding and addressing issues related to global poverty, edX, (the Coursera-like program of Massive Open Online Courses involving Harvard/MIT/Berkeley), is offering a course starting February 12 on addressing global poverty. [I have no affiliation with edX- I just know about it].

    The course is taught by two economists from the economics department at MIT.

    The course is free, like MOOCs are. For those who have not taken such a course, they involve online lectures, assigned reading, sometimes automated quizzes or assignments that are reviewed by others taking the class, typically a discussion board to interact with others taking the class, but no feedback or answers of questions from actual professional staff. No credit is offered toward a degree but one gets a certificate of completion for doing all the work at a level peers deem satisfactory.

    Courses run 6-10 weeks typically.
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    Feb 2 2013: Absolutely not! Donor funds, while appreciated, can only put a band-aid on the problem of Africa's systemic poverty. It is a question of mentalities when a strong, beautiful people lives on the richest continent on the face of the planet, yet are, by far, the poorest, too many of them with a corrupt, vicious mentality.

    Africans don't need to be given a fish. They don't even need to be "taught how to fish" although that will help. What our African brothers and sisters need is to be taught how to own the pond as well as how to maintain it once they own it. This is where proper education comes in.

    But I can't even take credit for these thoughts. I know Bishop Tudor Bismark, also from Harare, who is an international figure and meets with a group of Africa's leading pastors, etc. to ask questions like yours, Innocent. I've heard him say time and time again, that if he raises a man from the dead (which he has done before!), he wants to know why the man died so the problem can be prevented and properly dealt with when he comes back to life.

    Once the proper mentalities are in place, then the donor funds will make a lasting impact and one blessed day, you will become "the lender and not the borrower" to the benefit of the whole world.

    If you can't transform the minds of the leaders, go to the adults. If you can't go to the adults, go to the youth, and if you can't succeed with them, go to the children. They are the future of Africa.
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      Feb 10 2013: "What our African brothers and sisters need is to be taught how to own the pond as well as how to maintain it once they own it." words of wisdom, it is perfect
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    Jan 30 2013: 1. Read Brad Feld's book Startup Communities
    2. Create meetups, MakerFaires, Startup Weekends and other activities that will bring together different kind of people across a community that are trying to solve problems.
    3. Honor and celebrate the entrepreneurs in your community that are actually using for profit vehicles to solve problems.
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      Feb 5 2013: Thanks for recommending. It's a great talk indeed :)
  • Jan 23 2013: I think a few things need to be addressed on both ends. First off, those of us who wish to make a difference in Africa (with all good intentions) cannot continue to blindly provide handouts and/or donations because as I see it, this provides absolutely no incentive for the recipients to realize their potential and make a real change. On the other hand, I don't think anything from the outside will have a lasting effect because the realization must come from Africans themselves, who must be willing to bring forth change before any outside help can catalyze an awakening for communities to empower their own. Basically, we can only show others how to help themselves, and only after they themselves are willing to make a conscientious effort to change, will there ever be a change.
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    Feb 19 2013: Charity transforms if the reciever is not under the grip of foolishness. Europe benefited from the US backed Marshall plan, and Japan benefit from a similar US effort.

    The problem is not the aid; it is the lack of ideas and intellectual bankrupcy of the African elite.
  • Feb 18 2013: thanks for posting the question and for the intellectual participants. I 'm also in agreement that it will take both funding and empowerment.
    However, while most are discussing the government, I'm of the notion that it will take educated Africans carrying out a project in their village or town and demonstrating how to successful eliminate a local challenge and then move on to the next challenge. funding can help make this possible.
    We have to "think globally but act locally."

    As ex-pats we can choose to be part of the solution and not part of the problem (ex-pats who are western educated and are part of corrupt and suppressing governments).
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    Feb 13 2013: i would like to appreciate our brothers for donor funding towards Africa which is a noble initiative however, after centuries we still have the same problems perpetuated in Africa. I would like to present a viewpoint or rather give pointers on where i think donors has failed because some have stopped funding programs in Africa one way or the other they became frustrated with the level at which transformation results were presented to them.I have two points that i think that's were donors failed .1.donors didn't do an understudy of where they were putting there money into, they didn't have a tangible picture of what they were funding,and they didn't even have and understanding of how African systems work. Note every system has a character and nommater what good intends and motives we have towards bringing a change and transformation it is the system that determines effectiveness of our resources remember the kind of system that we put our resources into determines their productivity so donors did put resources into systems that removes value on ideas for transformation and also donors did put resources into characterized systems and as soon as resources enters the systems there original character and intend is changed towards personal corruptible agendas. 2. some donors failed because they funded programs in Africa with strings attached which had wrong motives which than stirred up political and social uproars due to the historical records. The only room i will give for donor funding with chances of impacting Africa is when it is put into integral systems that are accountable, but i would say for Africa if we change the systems we have and build integral and productive systems that has trans generational projections we have changed Africa, look Africa is empowered already we have resources natural and human but the greatest African challenge is a catalyst in the idea of a working integral productive systems that puts value on people's gifts,education and ideas
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    Feb 10 2013: The problem in Africa is an old one. Those in power borrow money from the monetary fund, spend it or make off with it, leaving the rest of the country with a huge debt they will never be able to pay off. So the investors have a solution. The people can elect this person that they think will help improve their lot and invest more money into the country. This person is told that the investors need to be paid the interest they loaned the other bad leader. They suggest ways to help the new leader pay back this interest by putting the people to work in menial jobs, mostly digging holes in the ground to remove the countries resources, destroying the land in the process, just to pay the interest on the loans.

    Of course they will never pay off the interest on the loans, even though they have long ago paid the principle sum they originally borrowed. It's just a viciouos circle.

    The solution is simple:

    If the principle sum is paid off, forgive the loan, forgo the interest payments and start putting the money the people make to uplift their lot by building schools, hospitals, etc.

    But of course, the monetary fund will not forgive the loan, even though the principle sum was long ago paid off.

    This is the normal way of modern societies dealing with developing countries. They don't want them to become a developed country because they would compete for the goods that make the lives of the rich pleasant. The bottom line is there is not enough resources to make 8 billion people all happy at the same time, so the system is built to depress the lives of the many so that the few can enjoy the profits of progress.

    Until the world embraces socialize, for the sake of mutual progress for everyone, then the world will not change and the fruits of progress and technology will continue to erode the earth and imprison 2/3 of the worlds population to give a few the pleasant life.
  • Feb 9 2013: I think you are on the right track attempting to get African Communities to address challenges on their own, but therein lay the problem. From my experience there are two main obstacles:

    1) Culturally engrained corruption; meaning the Western definition of corruption does not apply in these parts of the world. Mainly because the culture fosters this type of behavior in order to get ahead, which is in-turn both socially acceptable/unacceptable at the same time. Hence the vicious cycle of rebels overthrowing governments, and the new government being overthrown by new rebels with the same inherent corruption. Thus, placing the finances directly in the hands of the community seems like the simple solution, but could aid the problem as well.

    2) Any donation plan, as you say have to foster a new generation of people and ideas; mainly the idea that corruption is not a socially acceptable concept. Meaning, for any donation plan, it must be esoteric to the end-users, with deliberate planning over at least a 10 year period to make any significant impact. My theory on international assistance is that it can never be quick, with hopes for quick results. True assistance is done over generations, resulting in those people you refer to in the question that will renew and transform the community in the long run.
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    Feb 6 2013: The answer here might be both, donors funding and support African communities in addressing their challenges.
    Bill Gates talks about this in this article: "
    When Ethiopia signed on to the Millennium goals in 2000, the country put hard numbers to its ambition to bring primary health care to all of its citizens. The concrete goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds created a clear target by which to measure success or failure. Ethiopia's commitment attracted a surge of donor money toward improving the country's primary health-care services.
    With help from the Indian state of Kerala, which had built a successful network of community health-care posts, Ethiopia launched its own program in 2004 and today has more than 15,000 health posts staffed by 34,000 workers. (This is one of the greatest benefits of measurement—the ability it gives government leaders to make comparisons across countries and then learn from the best.)
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    Feb 6 2013: Dear Innocent;

    Your question is brilliant!!

    "Could it be possible to BIRTH a generation of people who are willing to be empowered with means of generating income that eventually get channeled back into communities for purposes of delivering renewal and transformation? How do we get communities to participate in the engineering of a promising future both for the continent and individual nations?"

    What is needed above all is transformation. This means a shift in the mindset. A new mindset is needed for the people who make up that community. The only hope for creating new solutions that work, is to look at the problem with a new mindset......The most effective way of creating this change (shift in mindset) is through education. What is needed is "a radical shift in education".

    Here are two great Talks, which I hope you find helpful:
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    Feb 5 2013: This is a great conversation, thank you Innocent, and all the insightful comments in peace and productivity.
    It is very fair to read here and understand how and why people get a varied perception of the vast continent of Africa... I love every country and most every moment and month I'm privileged to be there. I find all countries rich with diversity, verve and passion... and commonly challenged with infrastructure and leadership... much of the leadership behavior was seeded over years, from those who saw the many nations of Africa as an opportunity to "take"... and not as a respectful exchange. I only hope anyone curious to know more, or to feel they would like to "give" spends time on the warm African soil first, and enjoys deep listening with an open mind, what you hear will likely be amazing and will include your own heartbeat. I find real leaders give, and givers, get...
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    Feb 5 2013: The answer is no.
    That's not just my personal opinion, it's the reality - a reality in which I live.
    I'm from Guinea-Bissau and I know for a fact that although donations can have a very big impact and help solve many issues, they are not the solution mainly because they cause dependency.

    I recently discovered the work of Dr. Dambisa Moyo though interviews on several Youtube channels and I can't wait to read her book "Dead Aid". I make her words mine and I wonder how come African governments are not listening to her and other smart Africans that have been trying to shed the light on this issue for years. It saddens me that so many African leaders are educated but corrupted. Other who have real solutions are either killed or powerless.

    I deeply appreciate individual donations to global causes, but isn't it convenient to the Western governments to keep funding our dependence and underdevelopment, so they can keep exploring our resources?

    How do we get communities to transform the future? By educating them and providing a stable economy in which they can prosper. As Deekay Mgbekemdi said and I agree - it's a leadership issue. Once we have the right leaders, we'll follow the right path.
  • Feb 4 2013: Good Leadership will fix 80% of Africa problems if not More percentages.Leadership in every platform of the nations.African problem is leadership problems..Any change must begain with human capital development which then will transcend to non human capital development like the physical infrastrutures.
    Shout me at if you like my comment.
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    Feb 2 2013: ...Can donor seed funding effectively help fund African communities to address their own challenges?
  • Feb 2 2013: Another excellent insight into what happens to donor funding in Africa is found in Micaela Wrong's book 'Its our turn to eat'. Most of the funds in these NGOs never reach the people who need them. The NGOs including the World Bank and Co. are channels for redirecting money from the lower echelons of the world's societies to the bank accounts of the wealthy and powerful. So, no, donor funding cannot fix Africa's problems and in fact is a huge part of Africa's problems, making billions available to despots to entrench their power for purposes of their own enrichment on the backs of the people.
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    Jan 30 2013: Innocent, Charles Muriithi below stated it very well. To be successful there must be a number of considerations. 1) I think there must be a person to go with the transport. 2) the transport must be of use to the reciepient. 3) there must be someone in place to recieve the goods. 4) the reciepient must understand this is not a opened ended source. 5) There must be some type of guidance to spur initiative and the will to succeed.

    In parts of Africia I read that countries are exploiting the natural resources and the labor force. In developing countries there is always in the beginning a lot of corruption.

    The long term answer is always to develop a sustainable economic structure. With corporate introduction should be the agreement of education and health programs. This is a long and hard climb but it is worth the effort.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Jan 28 2013: There are several books I have read that talk about this very topic. One is Dambisa Moyo's "Dead Aid" and another is Paul Collier's "The Bottom Billion." When reading both these books, I became aware that aid will never be able to permanently help the problem Africa is facing. It was set up as a temporary system and then became relied upon. This is not what it was started for. Perhaps read the two books and it will give you a bit clearer view. There are a lot of programs being started in the education systems world wide in regard to community development. It is a growing interest. The next few years will determine how well it works and who should be running these programs. As a young African, I too would like to see us change our own countries one step at a time.
  • Jan 28 2013: Provide a transparent and quantifiable profit incentive to specific community identified goals. The profit incentive applies to outside agencies and all levels of government and the community. Recognize that these are the motivating factors currently in place and exploit them for the common good. rather then simply wringing our hands and complaining about the nature of that reality.
  • Feb 20 2013: The culture in most of Africa is hopelessly flawed. The problem in Africa is not poverty, resources or education. All of these could be fixed in a decade. One need only look at the explosion in China to see this happening.

    As difficult as this is the hear, Africa suffers from a deadly combination of immorality, greed, laziness and corruption.

    There is not enough money in the world to fix this. In fact, money only makes the problem worse.
  • Feb 20 2013: Greetings Harare,
    I agree say that we need to empower African communities to address their own challenges. This has been my goal since moving to Memphis,TN. I was raised in predominantly Caucasian social environments; Church, school, community events and so on. When I attempted to educate African American communities in Memphis on the fact that we need to better understand ourselves to better understand others socially, i became an outcast. I was told that I had the "White woman mentality and needed to move on out!"
    Yes, what you want is very possible, but the learners got to catch on and take the initiative to know, grow and succeed at committing to the cause. If its hard where you are, it got to be easy here. but people do not get it.
    God bless and thank you
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    Feb 18 2013: Empowerment is the key
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    Feb 18 2013: very interesting insights coming through. Patience, There is a lot of significance in what you have said.
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    Feb 17 2013: I personally think there is room for both.

    Rather than relying solely on one approach to fixing challenges of Africa, I think it could be better to utilize both approaches because I believe using both could potentially reach more people and have a greater impact, whereas if using only one, fewer people might get assistance. The way I see these approaches is like this: the donor funding is a top down solution, and the empowering of African community members is a bottom up solution. Communities that need donations could have access to available funding/resources to get what they need, communities that want to empower themselves could do so, or, communities could use both together to accomplish more than if they had just used one or the other. And that's why I think it could be best to use both funding from donors and the empowerment of communities in Africa to fix the challenges of Africa.

    But, I think how local government and community leaders go about instituting policies and distributing aid plays a role in determining how effective either donor funding and community empowerment can be.
  • Feb 16 2013: Like an addiction no matter how many times someone tries to help eventually only the abuser can help themselves. Thus only when individuals start to expect more for themselves then eventually collectively everyone will come into agreement for a change. This is more than just about money it is about changing Africa's mindsets for long term sustainability and that includes cleansing of political corruption. There is enough money in Africa for Africa to succeed but the wealth disparity issues need to be addressed from a different angle.
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    Feb 15 2013: Hello, in my case I try to send money to educationals programs in Africa. Besides the help for first needs that its very imprortant too, help creating primary schools and professional schools we are giving them a great tool for their own development, unfortunately there are another conditioners as war, corrupt governments, greed of larges companies in/out of Africa etc that stopped brusquely any hope of improvement.
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    Feb 14 2013: Transformation of self always begins with an awareness of self, for as long as you do not know your identity, even when there are attempts to help you change, you won't realise them thereby remaining indebted and be a slave of those who supply you your needs. Africa should know itself to empower itself it cannt forever be depending on outside help. Let this generation discover who they are in Africa so as to help Africa reach its potential. It is all in individuals finally awakening to their full potential that will transform Africa and the world. Just discover your role and play with aplomb.
  • Feb 14 2013: No. Two reasons.

    1) Politicians dont use the money for what it's intended.
    2) It's too often given, not as charity, but as you get this if you comply. Thats not freedom, thats slavery.
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      Feb 17 2013: OK.
    • Feb 21 2013: I agree with 2. If something is really going to change, there needs to be aid offered without the need to get something in return. But realistically speaking, what nation or organization is going to say "here's a couple hundred thousand dollars, do with it what you please and I won't ask questions or make demands."

      In reference to 1, I sort of agree. A lot of politicians all around the world are corrupt. But assuming that every single politician is corrupt and won't use money where it needs to be used is exactly what allows these corrupt politicians to get away with everything. It's assumed that there is no such thing as an "un-corrupt" politician when in fact there is. It takes the same effort for someone that is corrupt to come to power as it takes for someone who isn't corrupt to come to power.
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    Feb 13 2013: Thank you so much all of you for your deep insights and contributions. My team and I would love to have the opportunity of hearing from and working with those of you who believe that we can bring a shift to African Nations. We have some ideas and models that we have started developing and we believe in the power of bringing our minds and thoughts together for the good of many.

    Write to us if you can,, +263(0)733 363 161
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    Feb 12 2013: " Corporations Grabbing Land and Water Overseas

    As a growing population stresses the world's food and water supplies, corporations and investors in wealthy countries are buying up foreign farmland and the freshwater perks that come with it"

    By Brian Bienkowski and Environmental Health News

    Aftica being purchased by foriegn corporations:

    "The land rush, which is still accelerating, has been triggered by the worldwide food shortages which followed the sharp oil price rises in 2008, growing water shortages and the European Union's insistence that 10% of all transport fuel must come from plant-based biofuels by 2015.

    In many areas the deals have led to evictions, civil unrest and complaints of "land grabbing".

    "The wealthy countries repeatedly find new ways to screw Africa. They’re purchasing the fishing rights and denying locals the rights to fish the sea or selling more guns or owning profitable enterprises that ought to be owned locally."
    "...This is another example of the new wave of colonialism that is blocking Africa from making progress. Even worse, part of what is driving the effort is fuel."

    Africa will soon be owned lock stock and barrel by foreign corporations. There is no hope for the people there. Their fate is sealed by modern countries need for more food, water and fuel.
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    Feb 11 2013: Hi,
    I watched Ernesto Sirolli's TED talk on this same subject, mentioned elsewhere in this discussion. Quite poignant! A friend of my father's used to say about the transfer of money in business situations, one has to have an "inside person" knowing the scope and real story and caring about success, to make a proposition and followthrough from an "outside organization", fly. I believe that is true and have observed it in my family's owned business as well. The same applies to aid. I will submit a practical example below Brandon's post, where I was involved in an "aid to Africa" project. But here let me also mention about my mother's friend, Susan Andresen, who was that "inside person" from Mesa with friends she made in what her family called "her beloved Africa". Susan went personally to serve the area receiving the aid and to establish lifelong ties of friendship. Her goals were reached and her efforts became a successful project as well as forming lasting friendships between American families and African families.
  • Feb 11 2013: I think the old Chinese Proverb says it best. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." We can donate money and fund solutions to Africas problems, but they have to be completed. A lot of people have great ideas and never go through with them or only take them so far. Just like these innovative ideas, the funding needs to get to these communities and do the job it was intended to do. We need someone who is willing go the length to solve the problem completely. It is better to spend the moeny to teach then to spend the money to give.
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      Feb 11 2013: Tempe Sister Cities organization has a relationship with Mali, Africa. I think that is what makes the aid reach the right people and make a difference, without middle persons that take the human understanding, contact, and honest friendship out of it. Our hairdresser's mother, over 70, has made several trips to Mali on behalf of the city. I organized a group to sell candles and raise money for Sister Cities/Mali partnership so we could contribute to the sewing machine and goat program. The goats were in pairs and used for raising other goats and also giving milk. The sewing machines were for female entrepreneurs who then were able to become self sufficient. Mali is one of the poorest nations, but our representatives who travel there from Tempe,directly, make the donations do what they promise. This was a very memorable project experience, done for a Small Group Communications Course, and the power of collaboration even in small numbers with "inside information" as to the distribution of the aid.
    • Feb 12 2013: Brandon, it’s good to hear another state that a concerted effort over a long period of time, teaching progress is the only true key to success. Unfortunately, the nature of our society is becoming even more impatient, demanding immediate results. There are very limited organizations with the intent to be in it for the long haul, which are probably the organizations who receive less funding.
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    Feb 10 2013: Who can write a leadership training program? Who should write it, produce it?
    There are a couple of TEDtalks about donors and aid workers learning to listen to the recipients of aid.
    and Ernesto Sirolli's talk mentioned elsewhere in this discussion. These are important concepts for 'westerners' to appreciate.

    In the time I spent in Africa, I noted that the radio was almost universally present, and could reach people where no other means could arrive. That is why I thought your idea of dissemination via radio an excellent proposal.

    Using music or comedy to attract and hold interest, or even as the means of instruction would certainly be very effective. I think the main problem would be getting airtime on state radio, and getting the script passed by the authority. With star-power (from popular entertainers) behind and an engaging script, one may be able to get some airtime.These are full-time jobs for producers, writers and psychologists. Donor money would help, but everything else is homegrown.
  • Feb 10 2013: I am neither an economist nor an educator. I am not an expert on all of Africa. I can say with confidence that the lack of classically-trained college graduates in African countries I have worked in has quite a bit to do with the voracious need for diversity and scientific expertise in Europe and the Americas and global aid networks that play an equal role in inadvertently creating an "escape ladder" out of Africa and other developing countries.

    Many African countries (and their leaders) have been focusing on education for quite some time. There have been sincere movements to direct students into necessary fields for nation-building, from structural engineering to ethics and economics, and there have been conscious decisions to fast-track vital services, using central european style programs to spit out 18 year old engineers and 14 year old tradesmen. The greatest allure for those newly minted graduates, or the affluent college bound youngster is to continue with school in the west, or to work there in a market that is both challenging and financially rewarding. For their part, most western societies depend on such elements of educated diversity--whether it is a tech-/science-driven demand from the US or points-based immigration schemes in central Europe. To meet demand, western policies have made it easy for the well educated to leave developing nations and heir markets have supplied the demand. NGOs and multilateral organizations gobble up talent, both globally and locally, and many individuals move abroad or are displaced. They often shift to a global, not local, focus on growth and development.

    I think the question to be asked is not about educating African leaders, rather about luring Africa's native talent back to Africa. To do that is a combination of demand and reward, and it requires a promise of safety and stability. "Africa" doesn't need to be educated, rather re-invigorated with its own passionate leadership.

    See talks by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
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    Feb 10 2013: Thanks Paul!
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    Feb 10 2013: Can donor funding really fix African challenges, or should we empower African communities to address their own challenges? It is not that simple. Does Africa need funding is perhaps a good first question. Africa is not poor, it is its leadership that is poor for this conversation. How about taxing those that benefit from Africa? A 1/off $1Trillion 2015 transparency, pollution and corruption tax on all multinationals will deliver on the economic benefits as we re-plan infrastructure. EU, China, US, Russian, Indian & other businesses have turned around Trillions in US dollars out of Africa. Is it wrong to now ask them to share in the benefits of tomorrow?

    "Africans don't need to be given a fish. They don't even need to be "taught how to fish"" by Desiree M. Mondesir is my meaning. However, Owen Barder´s Complexity and Development is an excellent reference.
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    Feb 9 2013: Of course, not. Donor funding can´t fix African nor South American challenges. Failure. Native groups empowered with instruction and leadership, yes.
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    Feb 9 2013: I recommend a book that I think makes an important contribution to using aid effectively to improve the quality of life of the very poor, regardless of country. It is called Poor Economics: a Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. The authors are two development economists at MIT.

    I have read only part and therefore don't feel comfortable summarizing yet, but there is also a website by that name and, I am sure, book reviews online.
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      Feb 10 2013: Fritizie, economics is not a science that can produce equations that will eradicate poverty on the earth. It is a set of rules designed to consolidate the most money into the hands of the fewest people, leaving the rest poor.

      Science has show that if you take all the worlds resources and divide them equally into the number of people on the earth, we would have 8 billion poor people living together in poverty.

      Look at the truth...... 75 percent of all the wealth in a world of 8 billion people is in the hands of 20 % or 1.8 billion people. If we divide that number by the number of well to do societies, it means in each country, on average that 9 million in each country have all the assets and money. The money that the other 75% (in the us that would be 225 million out of 300 million) only have money that they borrowed and owe interest on.

      Using our current technology, we can only supply the good life to a planet with 1.8 billion people. This means we either have to decrease the number of people or get use to this way of life.

      By 2050 we won't be having this discussion. After robots take over all the jobs, we will be doing something, desperately, to reduce the world population to around 1 billion or less. It's not going to be a pretty sight. I'm glad I won't be around. My grandchildren, will.
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        Feb 10 2013: I have not seen evidence of the situation you assert in your second paragraph. Rather, I have seen the case only that we would have enough food to go around if it were distributed differently.

        I know many people believe economics is a set of rules for concentrating wealth, but the only support I have seen for this belief is a misinterpretation many people derive from the zeitgeist movie, which many people take for a documentary when even its director claims it was meant only as art.

        The study of economics does not suggest it is meant as a tool for concentrating wealth.
        I do notice that many people hold to their views on this subject with religious zeal.
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          Feb 10 2013: I took Finance and financial management in college. It was required. The first question our Prof asked ".. was there anyone in the room who was not greedy. If your not greedy, you will not make it in finance of economics..", he replied.

          I haven't seen Zeitgeist.

          It's not the study of economics that concentrates the wealth Fritzie.... it's the practice of it.

          Yes we do have enough food, if you include the insects, etc that many people eat. With the current decline in seafood populations, you can remove fish from the diet. If you enjoy corn and wheat, you'll be ok. Also if you like soy products. While we have some natural gas for production of artificial fertilizer, when that runs out it's game over.

          Robots don't eat food so why grow it for 8 or 9 billion people?
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        Feb 10 2013: I have never taken a course in financial management or at a business school, so I do not know the focus or philosophy of any financial management teachers.

        Economics and financial management are not the same discipline.

        I don't think when those working in the area of hunger talk about food that they are including insects.
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          Feb 11 2013: "The raising of livestock such as cows, pigs and sheep occupies two-thirds of the world's farmland and generates 20% of all the greenhouse gases driving global warming. As a result, the United Nations and senior figures want to reduce the amount of meat we eat and the search is on for alternatives." ~

          continued: "...A policy paper on the eating of insects is being formally considered by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. The FAO held a meeting on the theme in Thailand in 2008 and there are plans for a world congress in 2013.

          Professor Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the author of the UN paper, says eating insects has advantages.

          "There is a meat crisis," he said. "The world population will grow from six billion now to nine billion by 2050 and we know people are consuming more meat. Twenty years ago the average was 20kg, it is now 50kg, and will be 80kg in 20 years. If we continue like this we will need another Earth."

          Yes Fritzie, Those who rule the planet have plans for the kind of food you will be eating by 2050, just 37 years from now. I read the reports from WHO and the really good organizations in France :

          The demand for Beef is growing in developing countries, for those who can afford it. The rest will have to get used to bugs. That is the way the world turns in the financial spheres. Earth worms are a big product and, apparently, in the UK, so is horse meat.

          Feeding 9 billion people and keeping them healthy is beyond our planets capacity.
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        Feb 11 2013: What I meant was that when the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and when Oxfam report (as they do) that there is enough food in aggregate but that it is being distributed very badly, I don't think they are including insects in that aggregate amount.

        This is not to say that someone might not be thinking about the potential benefits of eating insects.

        I know protein and micronutrients, along with distribution, are enormous issues.
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          Feb 11 2013: Agreed.

          "The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed one-third is starving"

          In my opinion, I think the current way we administrate the planet is a complete failure. We need to start anew. I believe it is safe to say, those currently in management positions are really imbeciles, cowards and/or completely self-serving.

          I'm a coward for not reacting more strongly in my demands to fix this problem. I am a failure.
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        Feb 11 2013: As long as a person is genuinely working on trying to solve problems, he isn't a failure. Isn't there something about things not being over "until the fat lady sings?"

        We just have to keep doing what we can do and not give up until we're over, I think.
  • Feb 8 2013: donor funding can help africa but only if we use it wisdomly and in the right direction , i believe that the problem is in the people who are in charge , and also in the cetizines of africa , i do believe that we should invest more in the education sector to create a mindful generation a generation that realy care about their countries a generation that can use this funding wisely , there is a big different between teaching and educating the children we need to creat an educated nation that is enlighted with its rights and filled with its culture and country loving before getting a donor funding
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    Feb 5 2013: Deekay, I agree with you concerning leadership
  • Feb 3 2013: To bring out any significant change, funds are required... However more focus should be given on training local people to solve their own issues. It can be done through use of media like radios wherever possible. Providing them vocational education and create relevant opportunities for work is also necessary. The study of available local resources and people's present skill set is required for that. Community leaders can play the most important role in transformation. Involve people from ground level during the planning process.
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      Feb 10 2013: It is an excellent idea to present leadership training courses on radio. Such courses ought to be written and planned by residents, in the various languages of the country. It might be encouraging to offer paper diplomas in recognition of participation at the end of such a course, though that may present difficulties. It may engender discussion among the listeners, and that is how leaders are found: as the first among equals. Your other ideas may be helped by donor seed money, but the administration, planning and execution must be done primarily by local people through discussion. It may be found that the donor will be surprised by the real needs, and so should be flexible.
      • Feb 10 2013: Over the radio combining the desired training courses with some entertainment program is more effective.
  • Feb 3 2013: My comment may very well be an ignorant one, as I freely admit I don't have a deep understanding of what the people of Africa face. From what I can see, the root of the problem is that the majority of the continent is dry... There is little in the way of water & vegetation in many areas. Drought & famine are common. From this disadvantage, many more problems arise... Like infighting for resources, lack of education, lack of infrastructure & government support. Etc...

    I often wonder why the people living in the hardest hit areas try to have families? Why bring a child into it? Perhaps the limited resources the land has to offer is a reality some countries in Africa have to face, & they should keep their populations at sustainable levels?

    I say until the situation improves(hopefully technology will come to the rescue one day in form of cheap renewable power) countries would best serve themselves best by ignoring the Catholic Church, rubber up, and only have small families & only when times are good.
    • Feb 4 2013: Darren,i dont agree with you on drought and famine and little vegetation idea...
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      Feb 5 2013: Hello Darren.

      I disagree with you.
      The root of the problem is definitely not related to desertification.
      Africa is the most fertile continent, with 60% of the world's uncultivated arable land and more arable land than the continents with the highest populations.
      It is hard to grow food in many regions (cold and hot) of the world, so that is not the problem.

      As for the lack of education and infrastructures, yes - governments are inefficient, but we must not forget that the majority of African countries were colonies until 60 or less years ago. After centuries of colonization without relevant investment in education, there is lot of work to be done in order to catch up with the rest of the world.

      As for population sizes - you should research more. Families are larger because 1) a high percentage of children die very soon, 2) one's children are one's labor force and 3) there are no contraceptives available at large scale. The land resources are not limited, their exploitation is.

      Bottom line, the problem is leadership - once governments start doing their work, things will improve radically.

      • Feb 6 2013: Well I thought I might be wrong... Or at least, too general. Your response inspired me to do a little research. My initial comment was based only on what I'd seen on tv etc...

        With fully 1/3 of Africa the Sahara desert. then there's the kalahari being vegetated, but without water, it was easy to assume the continent dry overall. Obviously there are exceptions.

        Australia is the driest continent, yet is doing very well. Its east coast has great rainfall averages & holds the majority of the countries population.

        So assuming we're only talking about fertile lands. My research says that poor farming practises, caused by a combination of poor education & population pressures... Along with natural causes, is causing vital mineral nutrients to disappear from the soil. This means if things continue as they are, food will become harder and harder to grow, whilst the population will continue to increase for the reasons you pointed out. Doesn't sound very good.

        It sounds to me you know what the problems are, and what needs to change. I wish I could suggest something helpful, but like you said, it's the leadership that's the problem.

        Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I'd like to think that if I was a young man there, Facing all these issues... I would concentrate on the basics. All a person needs to survive is food, water & somewhere safe to call home. If there is fertile land & water as you say... Then plants can be grown & animals raised. Screw sending my children to work for some exploitive rich person. I wouldn't have any kids until my own land could support them too. Are people allowed to do this if they wish, or is all the land divided & owned already?
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    Jan 31 2013: Haingo Rajaonarison i agree with you i think Africa now needs quality and accurate thinkers that are rooted in ethics and integrity ,who are willing to build productive structures and models that are accountable to their own people and also Africa needs to build a management system that wisely manages it's resources and lastly African leaders must begin to believe in their own people.
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    Jan 31 2013: Interesting insights I must say. My colleauges and I are shaping a sustainable model that we believe will go a long way in aiding african nations. Its really a quantum leap but it can be attained. We would love to work with anyone who feel that they can add value to the work that we are doing. If you can help us shape this model, we would love to hear from you. Send me an email -