15 Jan

Development aid: from handout to handup – Evance

Greetings to all!!!!!

A popular proverb says, “if you want to give someone a fish, teach him HOW TO FISH”. The aim of teaching someone how to fish is to make the person have the fish all the time he wants it.

I would like to relate the proverb to our topic about Development Aid, there are many reasons why third world countries seek help from those who are rich but that is a story of another day…. For a long period of time developed countries the Westerners and now coming in of China and other Asians countries have pumped much of their resources to poor countries like Malawi, but on the other hand it has been realized that less has changed on the ground. The past 50 years Aid has been provided in a form of FISH not HOW TO FISH, therefore again and again, the recipient countries go back and ask another Aid. I Am glad with the change by United Nations by introducing 15 years’ program called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I think this will change how we view and handle Aid by both developing and developed countries. The aim of SDGs is to teach developing countries HOW TO FISH, in what way?…. by making them to learn how their can solve their own problems and how to use locally available resources.

There are many problems which I think have contributed to less change while much Aid has been provided, for example

  • corruption by both the beneficiaries and the donor
  • timing of the project implementation
  • poor participation
  • and treating the effects not the cause.

I will explain the last point to you in a more profound way.

Most Aid which is provided to us is meant to treat the effect not really focusing on the cause, which I think if you provide treatment to outward result leaving inner problem then there is nothing you/we have done. I would like to give an example… “if in the community  kids are not going to school do not build a school block(s) thinking you have provided a solution, NO!!! Building a school block it’s not a solution because in our (Malawian) communities we have a lot of problems that can make one fail to go to school, we have the issues to do with cultural practices whereby kids are forced to participate while school is in progress, we have harsh reality of poverty… lack of food, clothes and other basic needs. The reason why I am mentioning all this is to give a picture of the things on the ground because if you want to provide education to us understand all these problems which are the cause to the problem of poor school attendance.

To END Aid provision will not be easy as we mighty think because both the donor and the recipient are benefitting from the Aid, how? The donor sends people to oversee the project, meaning creating job opportunities and some donors come with their own contractors and workers meaning they the Aid is circulating among themselves leaving the recipient in the same state, that is why they would not love to completely end supporting us, while on other side increasing us the spirit of dependence making us not to open our minds to think how we can HOW WE CAN FISH.

As an individual I would wish we should change the approach, how the aid should be provided and how we should hand them, I would wish Aid should be provided in form of “Handup” not Handouts.  In our communities we have plenty of resources, if our people are given that opportunity to realize how they can use them, then it will be a good move. On other hand it’s hard for the people to know how to use these resources since most of the population is not educated, like I said in two previous blog posts. So if we involve youth, through trainings and motivation programs then they will be able to know how to use the resources and in ten to twenty years we will have a big change which I think will reduce dependency syndrome.  To make one realize his or her capability it’s a gradual process which take more time. Therefore, I would wish if our generation should consider the actions and how it will affect the future ones.

Thank you.