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Archive for June 27th, 2009

When the History of the Development Debate is Written…

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…this paragraph from Michela Wrong’s It’s Our Turn to Eat should figure prominently when reflecting on the first half of this decade:

By the turn of the century, Western policy in the developing world was increasingly being set not in ministeril offices but by NGOs – organizations like Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid. The Make Poverty History campaign, pushing for the cancellation of Africa’s foreign debt and dramatic increases in Western aid levels, was gathering momentum. Jeffrey Sachs, the brilliant American economist who campaigned in favour of a massive hike in funding, appeared to have won the emotional, if not the intellectual, argument. Other analysts might shake their heads at Sach’s simplistic formula for the continent’s recovery, but he had successfully wooed pop-star campaigners like Bono and Sir Bob Geldof, and their abilty to mobilise a younger generation bored by traditional politics awed Western governments. Whether on the right or the left, political parties realised that promising to ‘save’ Africa was a potential vote winner in the eyes of an idealistic coming generation. No wonder members of the African elite, aware of these pressures, sometimes sounded unappetisingly smug when contemplating tortured Western attitudes to the continent. As one Kenyan newspaper editor told me: ‘What we Africans have realized is that your leaders need to lend to us more than we need to be lent to.’

See Chris Blattman’s review of the book.

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Written by Niall

June 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Book release anticipation: William Kamkwamba’s Story

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Not published until September 29 of this year, William Kamkwamba’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (with Brian Maeler), is already on my reading list.

William, already a topĀ blogger in Southern Africa, provides an example of an inventor and a man with a spirit for making dreams reality. I predict that it will be a worthwhile read for anyone interested in development, Arfica and invention. The power of human ngenuity should be a motivation for all of us who strive to improve living conditions throughout the world.

William’s home town is in Kasungu, Malawi, where I do a lot of my work. I hope to meet him once he returns to Malawi after an international tour of engagements.

Here is the twitter feed for The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: http://twitter.com/malawindmilbook

And here is a short clip of William at TEDTalks.

Written by Niall

June 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm