I read this on an article ‘Development is political. It is not linear, but complex, and we operate in a political minefield’ and got so inspired that nearly jumped on my chair but then I was left asking myself how do we make our voices heard in this ‘political minefield’ we need solutions. I have been working in development since I graduated, it’s all I know and care about and don’t think I ever want to leave this industry. Despite reading so many books by development critics, who continuously question this industry I choose to remain hopeful that things will soon change in development. My journey to love development begun in the spring of 2009 in my sophomore year when my sister’s boyfriend brought me Dambisa Moyo’s ‘Dead Aid’ which had just been published in the U.S. I was taking general courses at the time and had little knowledge of the whole development agenda and its actors. The book was a major turning point in my life (Despite all the critical reviews) that made me to delve more into the subject and I begun reading more on development from Paul Collier, Bill Easterly, Jeffrey Sachs, Leslie Brown, Samir Amin, Walden Bello, Vandana Shiva, Noam Chomsky and countless others. I was basically spending the little pocket money I got to buy all the books I could simply afford. That’s how my love/hate relationship for this industry begun. With my Cum Luade in International Relations degree I could have decided to pursue so many other career paths including academia which I also love or Foreign Service but I decided to work for non profits. I have to say I enjoy the thought of knowing what really development can do to transform communities but I don’t enjoy the fact that development is doing so little to reach it’s potential. I have been implementing mostly advocacy projects that range from Gender Based Violence to climate change which I do enjoy yet there are times I feel the impact is so little or non-existent. My frustrations is more on the system of development, how it is framed is really not going to change much even in the next 30 years. From the detached proposal written by consultants in a first world country who have limited knowledge on the real issues facing the ‘community’ the project is being addressed to, the greedy organizations just wanting to win grants, or the donors who come up with ridiculous guidelines and procedures like the log frames, M&E frameworks, results based management yet they know basically well that ‘indicators’ is not an indication that an impact/outcome will be reached. The people who implement these projects just bend the rules to suit their own needs, after the end of the year they will write a beautiful report of how the project achieved its target and manipulate percentages and data to demonstrate that the target was reached. Development works at the high level meetings where our governments and organizations commit to bold statements and agree that development is going to solve world’s needs and with that regard rich countries continue to release billions to channel to this industry. But what is happening at the grassroots levels where the money trickles to, no matter how little. Where the ‘community’ and ‘beneficiaries’ of these commitments are meant to have their poverty levels halved? the ‘Bottom Billion’ Nothing is changing. There you find organizations and individuals those charged with implementing these projects mostly just in for the money and they embezzle thousands of dollars which was meant to ‘solve world problems’. The individuals who are charged with ensuring that the community voice is heard is the same group that is committing fraud and taking the little that is allocated for the community. We can’t continue blaming our governments for not doing enough. We are also to blame. I bet being passionate about development is just not going to be enough to solve world problems neither does being a social activist guarantee that the person is struggling for humanity.
A recent controversial New York Times op-ed ‘drones for human rights’ by Andrew Stoboand and Mark Hanis has been the cause of major debates around human rights circles.The article proposes for a new ‘solution’ in solving systemic human rights abuse in conflict zones. In the article they write ‘A drone would let us count demonstrators, gun barrels and pools of blood. And the evidence could be broadcast for a global audience, including diplomats at the United Nations and prosecutors at the International Criminal Court’ This argument further endeavors to add surveillance as a new course of humanitarian action besides the known customary methods of advocacy and enforcement. The article states ‘We could record the repression in Syria with unprecedented precision and scope. The better the evidence, the clearer the crimes, the higher the likelihood that the world would become as outraged as it should be’ This outlook to solving human rights abuses seems like an attractive solution for those of us interested in preventing human rights abuses. However it is still a pre-mature argument as it ignores other fundamental aspects as there has always been an ubiquitous availability of information on human rights abuses however the problem has been attributed to the lack of political will to solve human rights by states, the inadequate response to these violations as well as the lack of legal framework on use of drones in international law. The article suggest that human rights organizations can now use drones to monitor abuses however it forgets to mention that the same human rights groups have in the past condemned the use of drones as they view it as a violator to human rights itself. The emergence of human rights in international law has placed the rights of man on a pedestal almost equal to the rights of the state after a long progressive battle with the inception of the ICC. Allowing drones to monitor human rights abuses or giving states the carteblanche to use drones against perceived ‘terrorists’ would be a setback to the achievement of rights of the individual as stipulated in the UDHR since it will undermine the role of the Rome Statute as well as eliminates the human value of giving testimony or providing evidence that a human rights violation occurred as drones will solely be providing the imagery satellite account to a human rights abuses. Another nascent issue to this myopic outlook is the violation of a country’s sovereignty during surveillance by drones as well as use of the drones to kill certain individuals of that particular country without the consent of that country. In Africa, the US is leading an aggressive campaign against terror suspects by building up drone bases in Ethiopia, Seychelles and around the Arabian Peninsula. Previously the US has already been known to uses armed drones against Al-Qaida suspects in Yemen and Somalia and also to monitor pirates off the coast of the country. In Sudan a similar project that uses satellite imagery to monitor human rights abuses is already being implemented in Darfur under the ‘Eyes on Darfur project’ however accounts of human rights violations still remain rampant in the region. Africa where most of the conflicts occur will be largely on the recipient side of this form of militaristic adventures and not only will it exacerbate inter and intra conflicts but it will also further alienate the African voice and interests in terms of security as well as human rights.
”All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent” Thomas Jefferson
I thought i could remain silent over the brutal killing of Muammar Gaddafi but i just can’t otherwise i will be equal to those who choose to be blind to atrocities. So they killed him in cold blood and treated his body with so much disregard for human life and human rights going against the laws of Islam, the same law that the new Libya claims to be founded on. Jamie Tarabay in this article says
”those who were fighting to depose him might be as ruthless as the person they were determined to replace”
Where was the logic in this brutality? does Libyans even know that we live in a democratic world that guarantees everybody the right to life no matter how tyrannical one is perceived to be. Worse tyrants are those in ‘civilized countries’ who celebrated the death of Muammar. Such is Simon Sebag Montefiore who wrote an Op-ed called Dictators Get the Deaths They Deserve shamelessly justified the killings quoting biblical instances he says
”There is no greater achievement for the tyrant — short of immortality — than to die in his own bed”
He further states
”His preposterously exuberant cult of personality was surely shattered by the spectacle of his pathetic demolition”
In another article by Ellen Knickmeyer ‘Ladies love Libyan Rebels- the sexual Revolution arrives in Tripoli’ further ignores the atrocities the rebels committed on the women and children in their quest to oust Gaddafi. It endevours to paint a propagandist picture by adding a sexual dimension to the war. How can the Libyan woman see the rebel who wiped her family as a ‘sexual liberator’? How possible is this scenario? What prompted me to write this article was such kinds of literature being circulated and published in respected and widely read newspapers. The amount of moral and social decay being presented here is one of utmost disgust.
I have never felt like I am in the right place at the right time more than I do now – living in the once famous Dark Continent of Africa – that is now illuminating so much light which it had been absorbing from other continents in the past. Previously living in Africa was nothing but a quandary that required great mental, physical and psychological efforts to make things happen. Just a few decades ago, there were few success stories coming from this ‘dark’ continent. With a dearth of positive media, excessive brain drain, poor infrastructure and technology inter alia African success story was on the periphery. However, Africa is now on the center stage-a force that can not be avoided. It has been breathing so heavily for many years and it’s only now that the world is recognizing the centrality of Africa in the global arena. But now relative shifts in the global structure has witnessed the emergence of popular concepts such as Fareed Zakaria’s ‘rise of the rest’ or the ‘decline of the West’ . Such concepts are showing the increasing importance of not only Asia and China but particularly Africa. To feel the rhythms and sounds of this new Africa many are flocking to the Kenyan Capital Nairobi, which for a long time has been termed as the ‘NewYork of Africa’ As Jonathan Kalan observes there is a massive migration pattern from West to East especially among fresh Gen-Y whom he describes as
Most of them are here for the ‘African rush’ either for investment, development, travel, adventure or to study. With the financial crisis still biting hard in many parts of the world many prefer to come live or study at African top institutions which are relatively much cheaper than they would have paid back at home. The prospect of making it in Africa seems higher than in most parts of the world especially now that Africa is viewed as a new frontier that still has room for development and innovations. With the right infrastructure, policies, a vibrant middle class as well as flourishing democracies Africa could be a global leader. Behind this movement are the African elites and firm believers of this continent who want to show the good side of Africa alongside it’s challenges and who are actually doing something to push this agenda. Such initiatives are the likes of this project and this blog that want to tell the great ideas of Africa in a book!!!
Thomas Malthus would have called 31st October, 2011 a demographical catastrophe. That is the day the world population is supposed to hit 7 Billion according to a UNFPA report.Malthus argued that population if left unchecked would lead to starvation. At his time, Malthus ideas were viewed as controversial and benign as the world was witnessing the industrial revolution and food was in abundance.However his views could be more popular now more than ever when the world is unable to feed itself due to diminishing resources and high population growth.Unlike Malthus who saw disasters such as famine, earthquakes, war and diseases as necessary in preventing population boom, Lester R. Brown a Neo-Malthusian theorist offers a softer solution like birth controls as a way to reduce over population. The Malthusian catastrophe could be a reality and not a fallacy as many saw it. Regardless how absurd his ideas were or how extreme it was regarding the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ checks as well as giving birth to social-Darwinism theory that is known to have justified racism and propelled imperialism in the past. Malthus could be right.Of the projected 7 billion population 1 Billion is hungry according to a FAO report this is the fraction of population whom Paul Collier calls the ‘Bottom Billion’. In addition I Billion of the population lives in the slums while 3 Billion continue to stay in urban settlements. It has been projected that 70 percent of the world population will be urban by 2050, and that most urban growth will occur in less developed countries. We should be wary of population explosion especially developing countries that are still faced with developmental crisis of sanitation, hygiene and unemployment. In a world of global warming, food shortages, and fuel crisis a 7 Billion + population could be a catastrophe!!
I believe that it is the intention of the Creator that the earth should be replenished; but certainly with a healthy, virtuous and happy population, not an unhealthy, vicious and miserable one