promoting increased & more effective funding in Africa
Despite the overwhelming market for self-improvement methods that urge us to harness our power as individuals we don’t usually hear this type of conversation when talking about development.
Some may argue that in African societies where the emphasis is on the family and not the individual, this approach might not get much traction. Well, I guess the time has come. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa will host a symposium organized by Africa Unbound Inc that emphasis change beginning with the individual. I guess this is what is meant by the term “empowering people” but this seems like a different, more “homegrown” approach.
The press release describes it as “… a launch pad for a movement of peaceful activism towards enlightenment and social transformation. It will set the stage for a wide range of activities and programs that will seek to enable individuals to be powerful change agents on the continent.”
It takes places on April 28 and 29, 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more information check out the Africa Unbound website. i look forward to hearing what happens.
What about you? Do you think we need to include personal transformation as a part of the development approach in helping to improve the living conditions on the planet?
Damtew Teferra, the former director for Africa and the Middle East of the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program, writes on a range of issues. I always find his blog posts and articles interesting and informative.
His recent post on “University Partnerships in Africa: Capacity Building for Both Partners” make an important point. Despite the generally perception that knowledge and innovation flows one way from the “developed countries” to the “underdeveloped countries” that is not always the case. Writing about university partnerships, he notes how research benefits everyone citing the case of a Mozambican PhD student who discovered a few disease affecting cattle in Brazil.
Some of you might remember the thirty year African Graduate Fellowship Program (AFGRAD) funded by the United States Agency for International Development and administered by the African-American Institute. This program produced several generations of scholars and leaders that have contributed greatly not only to the capacity of the continent but also to the United States during their studies at U. S. institutions of higher education. There is a very interesting report about this program with the title “Generations of Quiet Progress”
Capacity building is a two way process and knowledge benefits everyone when it is freely shared. He raise some interesting points about intellectual capital, something that is becoming even more precious in this globally connected world. Given that capacity building is a constant topic of discussion in the funding world, it is important to recognize and consider that the investments made often reap benefits beyond the immediate recipient.
There is such a wealth of information on Africa produced in Africa. While the Internet has helped these organizations to elevate their profile so that more people are aware of them, social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube provide platforms where the general public can get to know more about Africa.
The Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) is a research and capacity-building organization that works to encourage more dialogue between researchers and policy makers in eastern and southern Africa. The main office is located on the campus of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.
Institutions and individuals can join and gain access to the online resources that are quite interesting and varied and provide a platform for social science research on a range of topics. They also have a Facebook page where their list of “Favorite Pages” is another source of interesting information on a range or resources such as Wikigender.
YouTube has also provided a platform for the general public to access information about Africa by Africans. A recent example is the video of Chimamanda Adichie’s “The danger of a single story,” featured as one the Tedtalks. This is a powerful reminder to all of us of the danger of looking at Africa through a single lens. There is also a powerful YouTube piece on Rural Women Solar Engineers of Africa that showcases the rural women who brought solar electricity to rural villages the different countries in Africa. It also raises questions about effective and cost effective approaches to education, workforce development and the role of women. It also offers some concrete examples of effective approaches that have demonstrated to work.
For funders interested in supporting organizations and projects in Africa, there are lots of resources to help you to understand better the context of the community and to provide some food for thought. Don’t forget these social media sights as part of your research. While the “openness” of these platforms enables it to be a forum for possible misinformation, it also provides an opportunity to see and learn about things that are working but absence from the major newspaper and media outlets.
If there are some examples you would like to share, please send them to me at email@example.com