Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bono uses Yahoo to get the word out on Poverty!

Have you seen the number of answers that question has drawn on ?? Within 2 days, he had more than 25000 different users answer his question: What can we do to make poverty history?

I have discovered Yahoo Answers yesterday and think it is amazing online concept to harness local intelligence and manage knowledge globally. I really like it. So, I also posted my answer for what it may be worth:

Poverty (and any campaign against it) is related to Human Rights first and foremost. There are several organisations that fulfil an international role to advocate for the reduction of poverty through various strategies. This is brilliant and needed...

However, in my humble opinion, there are many non-poor people speaking up for the poor in well-meaning ways, but too few platforms for the poor to VOICE their OWN plight. Local intelligence to solve problems are overlooked in favour of global intervention with big money attached to aid programmes and (often) self-interested political or economical agendas. Or worse, it is a manifestation of pity for 'those starving children' and the inability of parents or social structures to make a difference.

Global monetory power players call the development shots and move into communities and areas with well-defined 'projects' to increase trade, invest in social systems, monitor aid distribution and write off local debts incurred. However, they often overlook the desire of local residents to be part of the solution and to participate in meaningful ways - LEADING the process of reconstruction and opportunity formation. The poor is too often viewed as unintelligent, under-resourced and unimaginative and then treated as such! If this is not changed in the minds of those 'who have', they will continue to disempower those 'who have not' through paternal approaches to development. This was confirmed for me in the brilliant book 'Ripples from the Zambezi' by Ernesto Sirolli:

"After six years of economic development work in Africa, Ernesto Sirolli witnessed how little most foreign aid programs were actually doing for the people they hoped to help—from creating a communal tomato field on the banks of the Zambezi river (only to be demolished by the river’s hippos at harvest time) to donating snow-plows to African nations! However well intentioned, Sirolli points out, inappropriate development often creates more problems than it solves".

In dealing with - like I do on a daily basis in Southern Africa - I would ask for the world to do simply this: Be open to learn more before you give more. For the answer is not giving, but understanding what you lack by NOT living in poverty...

Here is a practical way: I know one organisation making a real difference from Cape Town South Africa. Social Investments (nationally registered public benefit company) identifies and supports projects that have measurable outcomes in poor communities. There are MANY similar organisations around... Just make your pick and you will be surprised how much difference $1 a month could make for someone around here...

Email the Directors at info@uthango.co.za if you want to know more...