I am inspired by Kaltuma’s blog, an Atlas Corps fellow from South Sudan, “If you want to eradicate poverty teach how to fish and don’t fish for them” which discusses poverty reduction in Africa. Here are my words to you “Africa needs a reform Kaltuma”. I am kind of wonder what the African Union is doing? Of course, they lead initiatives to dispute conflicts among African countries as well as empowering diplomatic relationships. That is very much appreciated as the AU contributing to conflict prevention and peace building in the continent. But, yes, when it comes to development, and not just development but sustainable ones, personal interest among decision makers emerged. I honestly speaking, I never heard that the AU presented a strategic plan to build Africa!
Years ago, I had discussion with a friend about the role of the African Union in saving and developing the continent. I never got a satisfied answers up to the moment I write this blog. It is not a matter of imitating the European Union, but takes it as pre-existing-experience and build on it.
I may disagree with Kaltuma in that the international organizations, as agencies, failed to reduce poverty in Africa. They obviously come for help. However, it is mostly fall on the African staff taking the lead in these international organizations. The majority of African personnel serving for INGOs, however, never truly thought of developing the communities they serve. The issue of poverty is connected to reducing the dependency syndrome. Unfortunately, still many INGOs keep providing relief instead of development and livelihoods projects. I know some communities in Africa have been receiving relief for almost 40 years! And it is irony that African states governments encourage such projects. I am not saying that the INGOs should not deliver relief based projects. Relief is absolutely implemented in certain contexts with restricted time frame. However, if relief aligned with development since then, the African communities by now became productive and self dependent. And thereby no poverty no dependency on INGOs. I had a discussion with colleagues in Darfur region in the West of Sudan where civil war takes place today about the reasons of the regular provision of food items and other relief packages to IDPs for more than a decade. And to be honest, some parts of Darfur are eligible to do development projects. But again, it has something to do with selfish and personal interest preventing that to happen. Most people think they will be jobless if relief no longer provided to these communities. Asking why? I do not know and I wish if they could tell only one good answer.
We do not have to put it all on African staff working for INGOs. Yet, I can mention that there are talented staff who are willing to make changes. Still there are some INGOs in Africa state very clearly in their mission the development of civil society. Finally I would say to reduce poverty in Africa we need to take care of our education systems.