Acquiring the Poverty Mentality

18 Dec

After a long session of examining my toenails, I decided one day to take a good look at the perennial question that preoccupies a good deal of the 99%… “Why am I so poor?”

It didn’t occur to me to ask the question (oddly enough) when my plate was full and I was nearly a willing participant in the rat race. No sir, I was seriously enjoying my cheese.

And then one day, after it was all over, I took a step back and asked myself THE question. It wasn’t about being so near my bottom dollar that I could see the bottom of the piggy bank. Sure, I could hear my coins rattling away, but it really wasn’t that.

I took a good long hard look in the mirror and realised that it was about every wrong choice I had ever made knocking on my door and taking a seat in my very small living room. I wasn’t physically poor. Sure, the economy’s hard, but there are jobs if you know where to look.

And so I did it. I sat down to write a book about how and why I had fallen so far…and what I could do to pull myself back up. Many people look to others for inspiration – life coaches, motivational speakers, priests, reverends, call them what you will. But with enough time and space, and a computer on my thigh, I decided to just let it all out. Catharsis from cathexis, so to speak.

You can find the product of my introspection at the Kindle Store on Amazon (shameless advertising, I know). But if I do say so myself, it’s a good read.

And if you don’t think so, please tell me. I promise I won’t lose the comment.


Of Ghana’s 2012 elections…

26 Feb

Still looking back for insight on the future. This time, I’ve turned to “Some Essential Features of Nkrumahism”, by Editors of The Spark, the CPP’s literary journal. The book was first published in 1964, with the  American Edition hitting the streets in 1965.

We already see signs of  what follows being true in today’s body politic, but 55 years after Independence, we’re still trying to detangle ourselves from the nurse’s apron strings.

I like to think of this as what a wizened 100 year old Nkrumah would say about the state of Ghanaian politics today…but I’m still quoting directly from The Spark.

“Nkrumah sees the emergence of the one-party system as quite natural under certain circumstance. The first condition is that independence should bring into power the “extremist” wing of the national liberation movement (the people’s party), which demands political freedom as a key to social reconstruction and the creation of a socialist society.

If the moderates of the intellectual and aristocratic class get into power, a neo-colonialist regime comes into being and a second party must come into being to push the national liberation movement to complete victory.

The second condition is that the government of the people’s party should achieve improvements in social conditions of the masses.

The third condition is that the constitution should give effective power to people in their generality.

If these conditions are fulfilled, the popularity of the party that brings freedom (in the sense of political freedom and social reconstruction leading to socialism) is enhanced and its majority in parliament grows.

The opposition, on the other hand, continues to dwindle, and soon ceases to be a political force of any consequence…

It must be pointed out that if the three conditions given by Nkrumah are fulfilled, there can be no room for a two-party system under existing African conditions. For the second party must demand a return to capitalism which the people have already rejected.

In the alternative, the second party will confine its claims to its ability to perform more efficiently tasks being carried out by the first party. But this is a function which could quite easily be performed inside the first party. Thus, the two-party system, given Nkrumah’s conditions, becomes either a retrograde nuisance or an expensive luxury. In either case, it meets no social need.”

My translation: Ghana needs a third force. One that is strong enough to make the other two largely redundant. But we already knew that. Any takers?

The old-age definition of socialism is usually vilified as an inefficient system too close to communism that turns up the sides of the mouth at dictatorships and command economies. You only have to look at the shift in our collective conscience to understand that we’re moving away very quickly from thinking it’s okay to be rich and greedy. Social entrepreneurship, social responsibility, and their associated buzz words are demonstration enough that we’re trying to change for the better…and be more socially oriented. While that’s another blog post entirely, the new socialism  –  is definitely  poised to give the old capitalism a run for its money. What country you’re in really doesn’t matter.


The nevereding revolution

24 Feb

Today I’m not going to make this a long post.

I’m just educating myself about how the world works by reading of opinions of people with whom I agree.  Maybe I’ll try not to be so narrow minded later, but  in my view people only find out about other points of view largely to convince themselves that those other opinions are wrong.

Feel free to add to the list, but today’s post applies to:

Syria, Lybia, and Egypt today…

Georgia yesterday.

Ghana (and many countries in Africa and Asia) the day before.

America and France the day before that.

And tomorrow, there will be more, considering that human beings are social animals. And it’s not only political either. You could say Zambia made the same point at the recent African Cup of Nations. And you only need to look around for sources of economic friction.  But for today, I’m keeping it politically focussed.

Is international intervention required in today’s national conflicts? I’m still on the fence about that one. I’m never for infringing on sovereignty, but the United Nations was set up for something. Right now, I’m not exactly sure what.

Anyway, read on:

“National liberation, national renaissance, the restoration of nationhood to the people, commonweath: whatever may be the headings used or the new formulas introduced, decolonisaiton is always a violent phenomen[sic]. At whatever level we study it – relationships between individuals, new names for sports clubs, the human admixture at cocktail parties, in the police, on the directing boards of national or private banks – decolonisation is quite simply the replacing of a certain “species” of men by another “species” of men.”

Let me cut in here to say that while this is severely and irritatingly patriarchal, it’s still largely true.

“Without any period of transition, there is total, complete and absolute substitution. It is true that we could equally well stress the rise of a new nation, the setting up of a new State, its diplomatic relations, and its economic and political trends. But we have precisely chosen to speak of that kind of tabula rasa which characterises at the outset all decolonisation. Its unusual importance is that it constitutes, from the very first day, the minimum demands of the colonised. To tell the truth, the proof of success lies in a whole social structure being changed from the bottom up.”

Is the Occupy movement a revolution, or a very long and angry protest?

“The extraordinary importance of this change is that it is willed, called for, demanded. The need for this change exists in its crude state, impetuous and compelling, in the consciousness and in the lives of the men and women who are colonised.”

Note how the women come in now.  And here comes the best part,

“But the possibility of this change is equally experienced in the form of a terrifying nature in the consciousness of another “species” of men and women: the colonisers.”

Originally published in 1961. Relevant: Always.

Excerpted from “The Wretched of the Earth”, written by Franz Fannon.

If you do not allow us to dream, we wont allow you to sleep” – an Egyptian revolutionary speaking on the BBC.

Cracking the Coconut

31 Jan

Before you get all excited, this post isn’t an allusion to getting your politician to side with you on a particular topic, or a how-to manual of making the ‘ruling class’ more accountable to the rest of us.

It really is about cracking a coconut; opening it wide with a machete so you can scoop its contents (endosperm…hmm) out and enjoy its semisolid goodness. I myself am a fan of medium soft coconut flesh, but this method works for even the almost dry ones.

I know I usually do mostly socioeconomic commentary, but today I wanted to mix and lighten things up a little, so today we’re going to learn a little lesson in life skills.

This would be a totally uncharacteristic post, though, if I didn’t establish some sort of link to the bigger picture and the world in general. So here we go. As the service industries of developing countries take over (you know I’m thinking in particular about Ghana), and the populations become more and more inclined on creating a top heavy economy focusing on white collar (and not very productive) jobs, essential skills are being lost. What would a programmer be doing with a plane? Why is that nurse holding a hammer? Admittedly, we never really had a ‘do-it-yourself’ culture, but if we’re going to stop relying on others to produce nice and shiny baubles so we can buy them for more than we were paid.

The growing middle class (no matter how small we keep complaining it is) isn’t really not really learning how to do, as evidenced in how our vocational institutions are sidelined, and ‘blue collar’ jobs are available only for the undesirables…where there are any blue collar jobs. Youth unemployment is increasing, but it’s not really translating into people learning how to do. And the white collars, intellectuals and other ‘elites’ are still busily faffing around (thank you, Andrea) and creating short term solutions to strategic problems.

So I admit it, it’s not just about cracking the coconut. It’s about solving a problem and making a difference. With this grand leap of logic, I’m hoping that small actions will translate into big ones. It may be a coconut today, or but a factory tomorrow. A coconut today, or cutting-edge research that drastically cuts down maturity periods for our most essential crops, increases efficiency, or mechanises food (or any other) production tomorrow.

Now let’s start with the coconut. Everyone needs raw materials. For this lesson, I’m going to use a ‘secondary product’ – that is a coconut that has already been husked by your local seller. Truth be told, it’s mainly because I don’t know how to do it myself. It’s okay, though, because this is essentially what happens to gold, cocoa and aluminium before they’re exported – separating the proverbial wheat from its chaff, so to speak. We’re not losing out on anything.


It’s essential to practice this technique before going off and trying to crack your coconut – because some skill is required. Not much, but some. Hold the coconut in your opposite hand. If you’re left-handed, it means in your right, and if you’re right-handed, in your left.

Throw the coconut up and catch it in the centre of your palm. Do this repeatedly until you can be sure that it will always land squarely in the centre when you catch it. Now start rotating so each stroke is positioned to strike the nut at 135 degrees to the previous…without dropping the coconut. This is the second most difficult part. Once you’ve got this, you’ve almost cracked it. If the coconut is small enough, you should be able to splay your fingers and hold the sides with your proximal and intermediate phalanges (the parts of your fingers between the knuckles and the fingertips…gotta love wikipedia).

The real deal

Now it’s time to do the real work. Hold the machete in your dominant hand, and the coconut in the other. The most difficult part is co-ordinating the throws with the downward swing of the machete. Time the machete to hit the coconut about half a second after it has landed in your hand. Get into the rhythm: Throw-Catch. Hit. Thow-Catch. Hit. You should need to do this about six times to get the coconut open. Four if you’re really good at hitting the lines so that they intersect.

Where to hit

Don’t hit the peak of the coconut, or the sides close to it. Try to get as far out as you can while still hitting a part of the coconut that sounds hollow. The fuller the coconut, the more difficult it is, but if you tap the coconut a few times with the machete to determine where the hollow points are, you’ll crack it.

I am well aware that this requires an instructional video. Watch this space.


I can. I will. I have.

30 Jan

At one very low point of my life, a friend gave me 6 words of inspiration. They have stayed with me ever since. They are very simple words. Each one is monosyllabic. They form three very short sentences. Each one is complete on its own, and pregnant with meaning.

The first is a statement of ability; the second, one of intent. The third…and most important, is a declaration of accomplishment. A euphoric bellow to the world that what was possible and expected has eventually come to pass. It usually deserves an exclamation mark. But is the most rarely spoken of the group of three.

“I can, I will, I have…WHAT?” You ask.

Well, it’s taken a few weeks, but I have finally launched the quest to emark on the journey of a lifetime with nothing but the pack (and clothes) on my back, and the shoes on my feet. You can help make this happen by contributing to my RocketHub campaign.

I can undertake this journey that many before me have, with the hope that as I do this, I can take along many of those in cyberspace who want to explore too.

I will write about what I see, feel, and do during the period.

Gnatola ma no kpon sia, eyenabe adelan to kpo mi sena.

Ewe/Mina Proverb.

English Translation:

Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.

Clearly, I’m a lion. And I’m looking forward to saying “I have” roared.



Reverse Transversal

25 Jan

Hi, there

Reverse Transversal has been re-assigned to the dream drawer, but for this, at least, you’re welcome to take a peek inside.


I haven’t traveled for a while. Not properly, anyway – not without an agenda, just to see the sights, mingle and experience new things.

Then it hit me – I see backpackers here (in Accra and other parts of Ghana) all the time. And there’s nothing stopping me from backpacking.

Then I did a double-take. How many Black backpackers had I ever seen either here or in Europe? I didn’t remember any. And having a lone female African non-immigrant backpacker travel through West and North Africa to get to Europe surely must be some kind of novelty. Even if it had been done before, how often? And where is the record for posterity?

That’s what inspired “Reverse Transversal” – a change in the flow of the status quo. A line across two parallel lines. A bridge.  Right up my alley in many ways. It’s not just about Black Backpackers in Europe, or the phenomenon of Black Backpackers. If you ‘feel me’ enough through my writing, you probably understand that it’s more deeply rooted in the need for me to socially experiment with people – see how they respond to the novelty of a situation. By virtue of that experience, I would hope to understand why more people probably don’t do it. There has to be a good reason. Or at least a reason.

Out of curiosity, I did in fact google the term, ‘Black African female backpackers’. The results clearly indicated there weren’t too many of those – or that if they were, they didn’t identify themselves much.  Which in an ideal would be quite right –  White Male Backpackers don’t identify themselves as such on their blogs, so should it really be an issue?

Nevertheless, I’m currently working on an IndieGoGo fundraiser for Reverse Transversal – which will support the trip and the generation of content for both a website and an e-book: Reverse Transversal: Backpacking from Third World to First.

Update: I moved the fundraiser from IndieGogo to RocketHub. A Paypal Account was required with IndieGogo, and Ghana’s missing on their list.

The campaign is up on RocketHub, and the landing page for the website is also up at Reverse Transversal.

I really look forward to your support, comments, feedback and everything else in doing this. It’s very important to me, and I hope it’s at least interesting to you!

Awww…that’s so cute….BUT IT’S WRONG!

6 Jan

I recently got wind of the buzz doing the rounds about none other than a rice advert. One for Pomo rice – which is a not-so-novel concept of getting children to convince their peers that certain brands are superior to others. This is it.

I remember having read recently on a rice pack that the producers of a brand of rice “test cooked” batches to ensure that what ended up on the consumer’s plate was nothing short of perfect. Great spiel, since there’s no guarantee that the batches tested represent the entire bunch apart from the advertiser’s word. And I stopped using that as security for anything a long time ago.

While the advert is extremely cute – the little boy used was nothing short of adorable – it raised the question (yet again) about what we’re doing to sustain, support and encourage the local rice industry.  Or any other local non-trading enterprise, for that matter.

Think Local…

Pomo, you see, has the face of a Thai (or at least South-East Asian) woman on it. So it’s not exactly targeting the Ghanaian market. And unless it’s being grossly disingenuous, it’s unlikely that the rice being bagged is Ghanaian. It would be great to see a LOCAL RICE ad with the same creativity.

In contrast, my mind flitters back to a current canned pineapple juice advert on TV in which a woman virtually nuzzles a horse and advertises the drink.

“Drink pineapple juice, and horses will like you. Or maybe you can even buy one,” she seems to say.

Not quite as attractive as a cute little boy asking, “Why is the rice so delicious?”

So critical questions need to be asked about what we’re doing to make ‘local’ rice competitive. How is the value chain being optimised to ensure that supply is in the needed quantities, the pricing points are just right, and it is widely accessible?

I’m sure it didn’t really matter to the boy (or his parents) for whom he was doing the advert – so ‘local’ money would have been just as good as Pomo’s, but the problem is that he wasn’t offered ‘local rice money’. And neither were the people who created and shot the advert.

It’s not an issue of rice, or chicken, or any other individual product. It’s a consistent lack of a concrete, integrated and well-thought out policy to move development forward quickly and visibly  that is the real issue. It is indeed a miserable day when our Trade Minister can say that government will not support local companies in resting on their haunches, and that they should compete with companies that have made deliberate efforts to protect their own. It’s even worse when she can point to countries that created unreasonable barriers to entry and say they are now supporting more developed countries. I hope that it was just a naughty journalist’s misrepresentation of the context of the entire discussion. But somehow, I’m not inclined to think so. I’m still hunting down the Joy FM clip of the African Industrialisation Day speeches. And when I find them, you know I’ll put up the links right here.

Back to the main question: Where do we go from here?

Well, we keep on hearing about this local rice that exists at the market. If enough of it isn’t being produced to compete with foreign equivalents, and we’re spending foreign exchange that could go into factories and employment on internationalising our dinner plates, we have problems.

Is government doing enough to support local industry? Are the taxes on foreign rice (and replaceable imports) sufficiently high? Are there enough alternatives to imported rice when what is now a staple becomes less affordable? Are the funds (Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund,  Venture Capital , Ghana Angel  Investors’ Network, MASLOC, etc.) being bombarded with requests that they can’t meet? How are we making sure that they’re channelled towards creating substitutes for fast moving consumer goods?

There are definitely more questions than answers. I’d like to see how these are being addressed, though. Because it’s great to have oil money. But if you’re essentially spending paltry royalties on imported rice and chicken, it’s not worth it. Regardless of how good you think it tastes, and how sweet the boy in the advert is. (“Awwwwww!”)

Continuing Education via Tweet: The ‘African Development’ Discussion on Twitter

3 Jan

A hypothetical discussion between leading economists on developing Africa:

Jeffrey Sachs: If you throw enough money at the problem, it’ll go away. The solution is always underfunded.

William Easterly: If you don’t find the right sweet spot, you might as well pour the money down the drain.

Ansaa Baiju (my hypothesis, so I get to moderate the discussion): The problem is that there are too many decoys.

Setting the context: Tweeting Development

Twitter is amazing. Actually it’s not. It’s a buggy piece of software that I have to grit my teeth and bear while I’m trying to participate in interesting conversations with people all over the world. Granted, it’s got 300 million + users, so when it’s over capacity, or jumping a bit, I will groan a little less.

That said, the PEOPLE on twitter are amazing, and I’m happy that they’re members of the Twitterverse so that I can meet them in it and also see what they’ve done outside it.

I recently exchanged words with @ONECampaign about their promotion of a Happy Kids NGO director ,  who was very excited about a project she had helped to engage in with Della ‘a fair trade fashion company‘ operating (at least partially) from Ghana. ONE had launched a blog competition, and Kelsey, a University student from California who is a director of a Not-For-Profit to help children, had won for her involvement in a project which was helping to further the cause of young female emancipation…or something.

This is how the ‘exchange’ went:

It’s easy to judge. Here I am, living in the comfort of Metropolitan Ghana with my fingers firing away at someone who’s actually trying to make a difference in a rural community that I must have driven past on a domestic tour prompted by a non-Ghanaian friend. So easy to judge.

But I understand what’s happening from a different perspective, because as someone who has worked to make a difference myself, it’s really not easy to make an impact without targeting the money in the right direction. Happy Kids is facing its own funding hurdles – and has a donate button on its website. As you can see from this article, regardless which side you’re on (swooping down to rescue or fixing the problem from the ‘roots’), getting the money is the hard part. It essentially becomes like aiming a cannon at a watermelon to create an aneurysm in a savage beast more than 1,000 times your size. Even if it’s charging at somebody else, that’s slightly hard.

Not the hardest part, though. Because as many movies show, once you’ve hit the beast, there’s  that moment in which you’re not sure whether you hit the target, and whether the shot will actually bring it down. Then the beast finally collapses.

By now we know that movies fast forward life – so in the world of development finance, the moment between targeting the cannonball and exploding the watermelon is at the very least a few years long.

Explaining myself…even though I said I wouldn’t

While one of my resolutions for 2012 was not to explain myself – because I don’t owe anybody an explanation – I feel a burning sensation a few inches above my diaphragm that I can only shake by writing about what triggered it. So here we go.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that my cathexes (focal points) are Ghana, South-South co-operation and Social Entrepreneurship. And I think the point of their intersection is essentially the launchpad for Africa’s development.

But in the mean time, I tend to get irritated by the serendipity of one or two of the pieces of the puzzle ‘hooking up’ in a project whose impact is extremely limited. I believe in creating integrated, targeted and sustainable solutions to problems that exist.

That’s why I am an Nkrumahist, and why it irks me that as a country we haven’t gone beyond Medium Term Development Plans (which are basically squeezed out of us by ‘Development Partners’). Love or hate Nkrumah, he’s the one person who managed to trigger the most development on the continent in the least amount of time. The Rock Star of African-led Development, if you will.

It’s also why I can’t stand to see small projects initiated by people who may or may not be trying to beef up their resumes so they can become experts on the ‘developing world’…or create feel good and more expensive markets in the ‘developed’ world. That may be an over-simplification of development projects and fair trade initiatives, but people really shouldn’t be conned into thinking that they should pay more for something just because a poor African is benefiting from it. The price should be fair, and the product should be comparable to its competition, if not head and shoulders above it. Trade, not aid, remember? And not aid masked as trade either.

Yes, yes, tiny drops of water and the rest of it, but we’re trying to create aqueducts now. Look at any country (or group of countries) that we can say ‘rapidly’ transformed. They didn’t work with thimbles of progress. They were virtually engulfed by surging waves of innovation, transformation, and development. Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, China, India, Germany, Brazil, the United States…need I go on?

Of course, you can still point to the number of abominably poor people in India (or the United States, for that matter), but the point isn’t to make it your philanthropic duty to ‘help’ the poor. It’s to ensure that people have equal opportunities to cross the barrier into a better life – if they make the effort.

Sometimes that does mean distributing malaria treated bednets. But even better than that is providing them with the opportunity to develop their surroundings so they don’t need malaria treated bednets. But the question is always about the trade off – highest impact results within the least amount of time versus  sustainable results over a (much) longer period? Because if the treated bed nets (among other things) were being produced locally, people would be getting paid to make them, and they would be benefitting the community at the same time.

‘Economies of scale,’ you yell, ‘the bednets won’t be affordable if they’re being produced at the community level!’

That’s not what I’m suggesting. When I buy treated bednets and see that they’re imported, then I wonder about the long term sustainability of projects to provide free ones to targeted groups.Checked shipping costs to Africa recently? Those could have been spent on salaries and infrastructural development.

When I can see pharmaceutical companies on the Ghana Stock Exchange that are not producing  ARVs and then hear a large uproar when the Global Fund is cut, then I feel sorry for PLWHAs, but start raising my eyebrows at the governments, entrepreneurs, ‘philanthropists’ and human rights advocates who aren’t pushing companies to produce generic drugs. Why are funds subsidising consumption instead of augmenting production? If we really want to  eradicate HIV within a generation, which is more sustainable in the long term? And we need to look at more projects in exactly that way. Some organisations are already doing this, and I’ll take the time to focus the spotlight on them later.

It’s about DIGNITY

Let me end this post with another journey around the Twitterverse.

From the Acumen Fund website, via @acumenfund:

That doesn’t mean charity. Funding development can be ‘profitable’ too.

It’s about consciously building COMMUNITIES that help themselves

Take ‘Three Avocados’, a not-for-profit coffee company which I just came across me on Twitter (let me disclose now that they’re actually following me, but they didn’t ask me to write about them at all) .

Between $0.50 per $3.00 bag of coffee will go directly into providing clean water in Uganda. Now this is virtually the same principle as Della (the ones who partnered with Happy Kids to ‘build capacity’ in sewing in Hohoe), except the end result is different.

With Della, people have money to spend on what they want. That may or may not be used to provide the community with the basics such as education, healthcare, sanitation, etc. The profits are used at the owners’ discretion. Which is fine – it’s a for profit company.

With Three Avocados, on the other hand, the coffee growers have money to spend on what they want (it’s worked into the cost of the coffee) and the basic amenities that are otherwise government’s responsibility (provision of water) are taken care of from the profits from the sale of the coffee. The more obvious difference in ‘Three Avocados’ is that it is supporting infrastructural development, which is a critical to developing countries and communities. And they’re also following me on twitter. (Only half kidding)

But in all honesty I’d like to see large multinational companies engage in CSR that focus more on real growth initiatives that aren’t just digging boreholes and providing people with access to water – which is indeed essential – but empowering the communities they are working with. It’s not one or the other. It’s both. Which is why I like these lessons so much.

Via @AfricanInvestor:

At the bottom of that retweet, I missed a vital comment: that African High Net Individuals both at home and in the Diaspora needed to essentially start venturing their own capital. ‘Charity’ begins at home. My comments are directed at those who give. And using percentages in our favour now, there are more of them outside Africa than on the continent. Just look at the percentage of poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Also via @AfricanInvestor: A Bloomberg curated list of feel good gift investments

I realised I didn’t retweet it because of my personal views of ‘helping’ large multinationals do good in the developing world.  I’ll deal with this particular list of feel-good investments in a subsequent post. Regardless, you’ll probably be able to understand my sentiments from this post – it’s mostly about the 99% contributing their hard earned money to those who already have more than enough. Remember, unless the company is issuing its own stock, they don’t really make money from people’s purchases on the market. But again, the article is in the right spirit. Sort of. There will be no aneurysm for the big poverty monster there, this or any other Christmas time, though.

Where do we go from here?

I’d like to see a dramatic change in philanthropy. The winds have already started blowing. I’d like to see an avalanche of real development in Africa funded by targeted philanthropy – investments by people in production that gives back. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Yes, people need to make sure that children are fed, clothed, sheltered, and that they can learn and grow in healthy and productive environments. But it’s the responsibility of the communities in which the children are, and not other people half way around the world, to make sure that these needs can be sustainably met. So every time you’re give a dollar to a  feed a hungry child in Africa project, make sure you’re giving three to a project that is engaging in sustainable development projects in communities across Africa.

I concede that from half way across the world, it’s rather difficult to tell. The easiest rule of thumb is to ensure that they are engaging with the communities they serve. Sometimes that means engaging with local government. Sometimes that means ignoring local government if they’re not serving the needs of the community, and aren’t accountable to their own citizens. It does eventually tend to be about accountability – who is responsible, who is watching, and how the impacts are actually measured. But that’s another blog post altogether.


I’m focusing on African Development in this post because it’s clearly the continent that is the farthest behind as far as the World View is concerned. Never mind the fact that the absolute number of people living below the poverty line in South East Asia in 2005 (the base year for the World Bank’s ‘raised stakes’) was about one and a half times that living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Look up the figures here. The way the figures are presented, it’s hard to get an overall representative view of what the poverty situation actually is – unless you go for the favoured percentage statistic, which I feel – even though $1.25 is a Purchasing Power Parity figure – is misleading.

The insert about Three Avocados was inserted into the article after it was finished, but fit perfectly with the last paragraph which had already been written.