Women’s Rights [Week 14]

Blog pic 1 Week 14
Market in the Street of Hoian, photo credit to Khánh Hmoong, used under Creative Commons

All across the world, women are instrumental in providing for the family. Not only to they arrange the activities of the household, but they also bear most of the responsibility for bearing and caring for children, feeding the household, and making necessary preparations for the future. However, despite these important roles, the rights that women have (or lack thereof) are not reflective of these perceived duties. Many nations, developed and developing, have taken steps to rectify this, but there is still progress to be made.

The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women was a major step in working towards policies that supported women’s rights. Many countries have signed and incorporated its principles into practice, and while some policies have substantially helped women, some have not.

Positive policies have been carried out in numerous country. In India, sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace, allowing women to work more effectively  without the fear for personal safety and security. This helps close the gap between men and women’s safety and assurance in the workplace, in which the question of safety may have kept many women from working. In Uganda, CEDAW creates a foundation for women who are fighting for equal rights to land ownership. In many countries, land or some other kind of tangible asset is needed to gain access to credit, to participate in community decisions, or to even  be seen as a contributing member of society. This is seen particularly in Uganda. Although not all countries have ratified CEDAW (including the United States!), the policies that it has helped support and implement are evidence of its success.

However, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to any women’s rights-oriented policy is putting them into practice. While countries can lay claim to CEDAW, making sure the principles that it set forth are being followed is another challenge

Justice Gavel, photo credit to Tori Rector, used under Creative Commons
Justice Gavel, photo credit to Tori Rector, used under Creative Commons

in and of itself. The UN’s YouTube video describes de facto and de jure discrimination against women, in which what is happening in reality differs from that which is set into law. I feel it is important to mention these concepts. At face value, many policies may seem to push for equality between men and women. But there are often hidden barriers for women, such as a lack of property ownership or a required experience only men can have, policies are rendered practically ineffective.

In order to create more sustainable gender equality, I think that specific policies need to be made in order to address this issue. At the moment, signing CEDAW requires that countries report their progress. I believe a policy that would enact random checks, rather than planned check-ins, would push countries towards more effective and rapid change. The policies are there in most countries, but the reports are only a representation of the reality.

The IMF determines that women contribute significantly to economy through unpaid tasks that they do. Women often have less time to devote to work, even if they are self-employed, and economic instability brings vulnerability as well. When women are economically unstable, they are more susceptible to falling into poverty, further emphasizing the feminization of poverty.

Women in the Mustard Fields..., photo credit to Nitin Bhardwaj, used under Creative Commons
Women in the Mustard Fields… ,photo credit to Nitin Bhardwaj, used under Creative Commons

As seen in the article The Women of ISIS, elaborate and well-structured organizations of women can be crafted that allow the women to work towards a general purpose. Women from Sri Lanka are mentioned here, and defend their militarism as a method to support and defend their values where traditional systems have never protected them. It is even take up as an alternative to the dangers that come with living in active war zones. Women are more than capable of coming together under a common cause, and this is an example of it.

When women are economically empowered, there are numerous benefits for not only them, but for the community as well. In the featured YouTube video, women in communities in Chad were supported by Africare in the pursuit of independent businesses. These businesses included harvesting and maintaining crops, running a restaurant, and raising goats. Not only did the women become more financially independent, but their ventures allowed them to put more resources into others.

The income they receive allows them to not only feed and educate their own children, but to take in others in the community as well. In many countries women are the planners and keepers for their households, and the money that they are earning allows them to put their own plans into action, rather than having to depend on a man to give them permission or the resources.


Empowering Women, FGM, and Holistic Approaches [Week 13]

Empowering Young Women

In our world, it is so critical to empower girls and to make sure that they have a voice in our society, even more so in places like Sub-Saharan Africa where the traditional roles of women are essentially to be subservient to someone, whether that be their families, in-laws, or future husbands. Eve Ensler specifies in her TED talk that much of world criticizes and hurts girls, so much so that we make them feel guilty for just existing. Women in SSA are instrumental in its economic and social recovery.

While many African governments have passed legislation that prevents things like FGM and child marriages, organizations like the Desert Flower Foundation and FORWARD that work directly with families to help reinforce these principles where the government cannot. A project was even developed in Burkina Faso that allowed mentors to educate girls, as well as provide funds for them to kick-start financial activities for them.

Burkina Faso is considered one of the leading forces against FGM, most likely because of the prevalence of it within the nation. They have passed legislation against it, even incorporating it into their constitution. The struggle with any law that contradicts tradition, however, is that people are going to try and find a way around it. In this case, many people now attempt to carry out FGM earlier so it can go unreported. However, Burkina Faso did adopt the Maputo Protocol, which detailed special protections for women such as prevention of abuse towards women who are elderly or have a disability, and protecting women with specific special needs. However, as is often the case, putting policy into practice is slow and difficult work.

Holistic approaches to stop the violence

In these readings, a number of problems are identified concerning sexually related issues with young women. The study He forced me to love him by Katherine Wood, Fidelia Maforah, and Rachel Jewkes comments that there is not so much a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of putting that specific knowledge into practice. Young people are often pressured by their peers and by community standards to engage in these sexual behaviors, and parent-child conversation about them is considered taboo.

Against my will, photo credit to Jessica Lea/Department for International Development, used under Creative Commons
Against my will, photo credit to Jessica Lea/Department for International Development, used under Creative Commons

One stand-out  issue in the He forced me to love him article was the concept of equating “love” with a strictly sexual relationship. While the cultural definition of love is broad and varies across regions, this association of love and sex was predominately defined by men. Ultimately, in many communities, sex is an act that is always initiated by a man. It is also expected–women expect sexual cravings and advances from men, and don’t question them.

Education here is needed, but rather that on the behalf of women, it needs to be for the men. Something about the definition of manhood and what a relationship is with a woman is resulting in these types of sexual encounters, and if not attacked at the root, will continue to manifest itself from generation to generation.

Wood and her colleagues determined that there is a gap in information and education here–what constructs male sexuality, and why do they act the way they do in sexual encounters? I believe that by asking these questions of men themselves, you can begin to find answers. In order for changes to be made, the association of manhood with these kinds of actions must be eliminated. Another essential aspect is to formally criminalize these kinds of abusive sexual actions, and to lower the restrictive barriers to allow women to take action against those who hurt them. This needs to be incorporated into the restructuring of many nations’ infrastructure as a key component.

Ending FGM/C through education, photo credit to Jessica Lea/DFID, used under Creative Commons
Ending FGM/C through education, photo credit to Jessica Lea/DFID, used under Creative Commons

Another issue was the effect that young girls have on others–particularly in talking about sexual experiences. There is a notion of exclusion, presenting sex as more of a rite of passage. For young girls, this can have a domino effect of engaging in sexual behaviors in order to maintain friendships and inclusion. To mediate this, a space of conversation and learning needs to be created. A space where all girls are included and can discuss their questions and concerns openly with a health professional, or even someone in their village who is knowledgeable and willing to share her own insight with them.

According to Jewkes, young girls are seen as becoming mature faster than boys, therefore in many minds evening out the age difference between them. Seen in “If they rape me, I can’t blame them” is a pattern of self-blaming–here, girls seem to shoulder all responsibility for any type of assault or molestation that occurs. Their bodies are seen as inherently sexual the older they get, and everything from their actions to the types of clothes they wear is seen as provocative and an invitation for sexual interaction. Immodesty is seen as a form of disrespect.

Photo credit to Michael Fleshman, used under Creative Commons
Photo credit to Michael Fleshman, used under Creative Commons

The reasons the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have not been found yet have been numerous. The girls have been believed to have been seen recently, but there are arguments as to why they haven’t been rescued yet. I believe that despite the publicity the incident is receiving, it is less shocking on the local level than it is on the international level. Boko Haram has inflicted all kinds of terror upon the people there, and Nigeria has a  society where this type of thing happens every day.

In some eyes, it could be argued that the girls are still receiving some kind of education, religion, housing, and a secure future, which is better than what a lot of girls might receive in their lifetime. The danger of men that they don’t know isn’t much greater than the danger of men that they might know in their communities–the threat has not changed. In a system where girls are so deeply undervalued, the absence of them has been buried under issues considered more important.

Women and Microfinancing [Week 12]

Family, photo credit to Emily Abrams, used under Creative Commons
Family, photo credit to Emily Abrams, used under Creative Commons

Marginalization of Women in the Workforce

Women have been marginalized on the workforce not only because of their sex, but alsofor a number of other reasons. There is a feminization of poverty, or the specifically female aspect of being impoverished, that is key here. Women often find themselves in jobs of hard, repetitive labor, a direct result of not being able to obtain a better job. Women also suffer from lower wages and threats to personal safety.

Linda Mayoux details in her article Tackling the Down Side: Social Capital, Women’s Empowerment and Microfinance, the idea of “social capital”.  This concept is more about the positive benefits that can be had in a social context rather than an economic one. Many women lack this social capital. There is also the concept of purdah, or the concept of appropriate spaces for women to adhere to, pointed out in Naila Kabeer’s article Conflict over Credit: Re-Evaluating the Empowerment Potential of Loans in Women in Rural Bangladesh. Women are expected in many developing nations to adhere to traditional gender roles, and even when work is allowed, it is restrained to certain places, especially in the home.

Women at a market in Bandarban, Chittagong Hill, Bangladesh, used under Creative Commons
Women at a market in Bandarban, Chittagong Hill, Bangladesh, photo credit to jankie, used under Creative Commons

The main focus in making positive changes is to create safe, stable working environments for women. It is difficult to change the kind of jobs that are available, or even the perception of women in these jobs, but it is possible to try and make work environments as safe and dependable as possible. Women in Burkina Faso have a tremendous struggle, as the traditional roles of being beneath men in status and decision-making power result in their low levels of employment or control within their own households.

Positives and Negatives of Micro-loans

While microfinancing as a whole is given a positive image, it can also be argued that the effects on women are negative. Naila Kabeer details in her article Conflict over Credit that while women can receive the funds, it can also be an illusion that covers that men, the traditional heads of households, are truly controlling the funds. Many women work from home, and while micro-loans can help them substantially improve their businesses and foster a sense of indepence and control, many women are also used by their husbands or other male family members as a means to obtain financing. The men, who then do not feel the responsiblity, fail to repay the money. This is summarized well in a quote from Kabeer’s work, where she details that women then have “responsibility without control.”

This article by Aneel Karnari would argue that micro-financing really doesn’t empower women economically, but rather gives them power in other ways. I would argue that while this is true, it is grossly under-valuing the power of these loans. In order to pull a country out of poverty, you must empower the whole nation–you cannot pick and choose who you want to empower, whether that be the entreprenuers or the rural farmers, the economically-oriented or the structurally oriented, the men or the women. By giving women a little more power in their homes, that is more power in their communities. Microloans do not have to be all about the financial empowerment.

Business at a sari workshop, photo by waterdotorg, used under Creative Commons
Business at a sari workshop, photo by waterdotorg, used under Creative Commons

Micro-loans do have positive impacts for women, including allowing them more decision-making power in their households. With the use of loans, women also have more power to make their choice of purchases, save money, and freedom from the rule of their respective families. Kabeer even identifies an increased awareness of social and political affairs, something that comes with the responsibility of making and obtaining income. Melinda Gates introduces a very important, and not often seen, visual in her New York Times essay about the women who lacks economic control. She is forever at the mercy of money, and microloans can give women some of that power back.

Micro-loans in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, there are a few micro-loans programs that stand out. One of them, Youthstart, is managed by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). The goal of Youthstart is to help provide young people with access to funding, as well as increasing access to developing and maintaining services directed towards young people. Youthstart is currently active in Burkina Faso. The UNCDF also runs MicroLead, an institution which among other duties, can allot localized microfinance institutions funds on a competitve basis to allow them to expand their capabilities. The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance also instituted a microfinance institution in Burkina Faso, which focuses on delivering loans  and financing directly targeted towards agricultural activities.

The Grameen Bank and Aid Effectiveness [Week 11]

  1. Maize
    Fertilizing Maize, photo credit to B. Das/CIMMYT, used under Creative Commons

    In Kenya, the Grameen Foundation is utilizing mobile technology to assist farmers in access to information and financial assistance. This is done through the e-Warehouse system, which allows farmers to preserve their crops to make optimum profits, as well as receive loans to get those crops started.

In Ghana, mobile technologies are being used to improve maternal health across the nation. Utilizing Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) , two phone applications were created to keep expecting and new mothers updated on the proper child and health care. This same system is also used to keep records, enabling better and more direct maternal care.

One of the best things about these applications is that if a expecting or new mother doesn’t own a phone, they can still be given an ID number that will be used to get information specific to their circumstances. With this number they can use any phone, thereby creating an even bigger channel for this kind of knowledge to reach communities in need.

The Grameen Bank and the M-Pesa money system are well-functioning systems of micro-lending. There are also institutions such as the Women’s World Banking, which focuses on allotting microloans to women in developing nations, the result of which can give these women more economic and social control over their own lives. KIVA has several projects going on in SSA. They are pursuing microfinance projects in countries like Kenya and Uganda, as well as other projects directly tailored towards women. I did notice that there were some projects that could not be completed due to insufficient funds.

2. Moyo proposes three interlinked stages:

  1. Stage 1: An aid-dependency reducing economic plan to push the country in a more financially stable and independent direction.
  2. Stage 2: Adhering to rules and regulations to ensure that the revenue called for in the economic plan can be found.
  3. Stage 3: Public institutions must be strengthened, as well as held responsible for their actions and maintain transparency.

As Moyo points out, poverty from abroad can have very direct effects on developed nations. Developing nations lack security and are often stricken with civil unrest due to weak national and regional institutions. These kinds of elements can often create a perfect scenario for terror organizations. Specifically pertaining to Africa, the U.S and other developed countries are not immune to these effects as some might believe.

For example, Boko Haram is currently present in quite a few developing nations in Africa. In many of these nations, young people are at a disadvantage–there is little work, little opportunity, and little money or resources to be had. In this way, the group appeals to young people, especially those in poverty.

Sachs, however, proposes nine steps he believes are the beginning of eliminating poverty. However, I noticed that his approach isn’t as specific. He outlines some general guidelines, such as the promotion of sustainable development, but this is different for every country. To me, Moyo takes a more direct approach at creating not only sustainable solutions, but removing developing nations’ reliance on foreign aid, which is ultimately a more sound future goal.

3. While Sangu Delle’s approach seems quite worthy in the long run, I personally think that it is worrisome in the long term. Delle suggests that rather than utilizing micro-financing to grow Africa’s economy, investors need to focus on larger entrepreneurs that can grow, expand, and hire on more Africans. He has a valid point–not every African is setting out to innovate and create–and most are just

Return on Investment, taken by LendingMemo.com, used under Creative Commons
Return on Investment, taken by LendingMemo.com, used under Creative Commons

trying to live day-to-day and feed their families. But the problem with Delle’s strategy is that once you grow a few large entrepreneurs, they’ll just remain at the top.  Many developing nations in Africa struggle with stable infrastructure, and before you can go about investing capital in just a few people, the infrastructure must be strong enough to ensure that they won’t become barriers to entry later on in the market.

Andrew Mwenda presents a different view, in which the media is used to create a specific image of Africa. He says in his TED talk that the image appeal to people’s charity, therefore inspiring not only the aid that the region receives but the lack of initiative it has to become less dependent on it. The media is such a powerful tool in constructing the image of a nation, and I feel like in the same way it is used to sell Africa’s weaknesses to potential donors, it can be used to sell their growth and strength to investors as well.

From a different point of view, foreign aid can do substantial damage to local business owners and manufacturers. Herman Chinery-Hesse, a entrepreneur from Ghana, gives his point of view on what aid does to these businesses and how difficult it is to compete with NGOs when they are focused on giving what local merchants are attempting to sell for free. Malik Fal also speaks in favor of local businesses and the conclusion of aid to Africa.

Funding Aid, Poverty Rates, and Moyo on China’s Investment [Week 9]

Sachs Chapter 15

In Chapter 15, by referring to the “rich”, Sachs is referring to people who make more than the average income for their households, specifically in the United States. I find it difficult to agree with this because asking someone to pay more based on the fact that they have more money is bound to be burdensome, regardless of if they are willing to do it or not. However, the wealthiest in our nation are the most capable of making the greatest difference.

Money, taken by taxcredits.net, used under Creative Commons
Money, taken by taxcredits.net, used under Creative Commons

Taxing the rich isn’t a sustainable idea, because asking someone to give up their money, regardless of how much they have, is going to stir discontent. Eventually someone is going to resist the idea, and then you have more opposition than assent. Especially in the United States, there is an emphasis on the concept that if you work hard enough, it is possible to achieve many things in life. Regardless of however truth this may have in today’s economy and circumstances, the idea remains. I think that is why our aid, while still large by international standards, has become so small. People and institutions don’t like giving up what they earn, and give just enough to feel satisfied.

With that being said, I think that the best method is to install a flat rate that is paid by all, regardless of income. This way necessary funds are generated by all, and it’s a more sustainable source of income because everyone is paying the same rate, leaving room for less dissatisfaction.

[Aid Package Example for Burkina Faso]

*Access to clean water in rural areas: Clean water is difficult to access in more rural areas, leading to the early death of thousands of children every year. The addition of clean water would greatly improve health and quality of life.

551_Zata School Well, taken by Gary Edenfield, used under Creative Commons
551_Zata School Well, taken by Gary Edenfield, used under Creative Commons

*Funding to medical sectors to provide adequate supplies and healthcare professionals to expecting and new mothers: In Burkina Faso there is a high rate of maternal mortality, and this is difficult to combat with a number of internal and external factors. While the government attempts to help combat the corruption that exists here, mothers in rural areas are still not getting the medical care that they need.

*Funding to assist in times of food shortages: Burkina Faso is land-locked and currently suffering from changing environmental conditions, allowing it to be plagued by limited nutritional resources. The influx of refugees into Burkina Faso from neighboring Mali have also put a particular strain of these resources, not only for incoming refugees, but for those surrounding heavily-populated refugee areas as well.

[Poverty Rates in Burkina Faso]

2004: 45.3 % of the population was recognized as impoverished.

2014: The most recent rates on poverty available for Burkina Faso were those taken from 2007-2011, and they indicated that 44.6% of the population is still below the poverty line.

Sachs Chapter 16

While some of the myths that Sachs talks about may have some truths in them, I think the main reason that they are myths is because they are based on observable facts. Those in rich countries who make the decisions about how much aid to give and where it is needed honestly do not have the knowledge that is necessary to debunk them, and their voices are heard at a larger scale than the Africans who are experiencing the obstacles and barriers to better resources, infrastructure, and institutions. I do think that Sachs’ analysis here brought a lot of accurate points to the forefront.

One of the myths that Sachs talks about in particular is about AIDS, and I think that he made several good points here. There is some kind of misconception that Africans are more promiscuous, or as Sachs puts it, have a “lack of morals”, but as he identifies, this isn’t the case at all. The African population as a whole may have different cultural and sexual norms, but none of this leads to increased sexual encounters versus the rest of the world.

While there are many speculated reasons why HIV/AIDS is so prevalent in Africa, I’m not sure any of those will ever really matter. It isn’t so much the question of How did HIV/AIDS get to this point?, but rather, How do we counter it from here? Programs have been put into place to educate youth (like this one in Burkina Faso), as well as different demographics in Africa, on the disease, its prevention, and better health care, which is a step in the right direction.

Moyo Part 2

Moyo does have objections about China’s record of investment, mostly dwelling on the fact that it may be creating a bad precedent for Africa. As Moyo discusses, the Chinese have been able to undercut some of the major world banks and financial institutions by compromising on the social and environmental standards that are attached to loans. This presents a new approach to Africa, who is readily accepting of this, in some cases. I think that the problem with this kind of investment is that it opens a door for a new kind of struggle, where the region improves because of the injection of much-needed cash, but the reforms and changes so badly needed aren’t made.

Economic Strategy and the Financial State of Sub-Saharan Africa [Week 8]

Part 1

1. I chose to look over Senegal’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and Kenya’s Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation. I noticed Senegal’s economic strategies are formatted into three different chapters. The first chapter points out the shortcomings and challenges, the second chapter the strategies to improve/change the factors, and the third, the way to finance these strategies. Something else important to note here is the chart at the end of the document, prioritizing the tasks that should be focused on first, and classifying the others as moderately important and of lesser importance.

Kenya’s strategies, however, are already divided into chosen areas to focus on, such as public sector reform and infrastructure. There is also a section that covers “cross cutting” issues, or elements that affect other parts of the economy and need to be taken into consideration. I think this section of issues is important because it focuses on improving the system as a whole, rather than funneling all efforts and funds into one area while leaving others broken.

2. In part 2 of Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo talks about different options for raising developing African countries out of poverty, specifically by entering the international market via bonds, rather than leaning on the support of aid. Some countries have been able to enter the market successfully, while others have yet to convince investors to partner with them.

According to J.P Morgan’s Emerging Markets Bond Index (EMBI), only South Africa appears on their radar. There is no data available for any other African nation, including Burkina Faso.  The amount that Burkina Faso was loaned by the World Bank in the past five years has decreased after a spike in 2012, but has still remained higher than what was originally loaned in 2010.

As far as the European Investment Bank (EIB) is concerned, the focus of funding should be put on long-term, and more importantly, sustainable solutions for developing nations. In the most recent news, a loan was given in December to a biotechnological company to focus on finding a vaccine, a sustainable solution. This was unique to me because their contribution focused on finding a way to slow the progress of ebola, rather than on sending doctors and nurses who can’t give any answers and might only contribute to chaos. Loans were given to West African states, who were hardest hit by the wave. I also noticed that when EIB can’t give a sustainable solution, they try to support the sustainable solutions in affected areas.

As far as loans given by the World Bank, Sub-Saharan African countries are in various states of loans and repayments. I selected three countries at random–Benin, Tanzania, and Namibia–to try and get a feel for the loans that the World Bank distributes. The World Bank grants IDA credits, or loans that have long repayment terms, low interest, and plenty of opportunity to repay. Benin appears to have a pretty high rate of repayment of their credits. Tanzania received more IDA credits than Benin, and is currently repaying more of them as well. Namibia has repaid two credits, but isn’t currently maintaining any. This goes to show that African nations are in various states of repayment and economic conditions, and I can see how that those that do not have stability or a good credit rating struggle to find economic independence.

Part 2

Moyo recommends three major steps in order for Sub-Saharan African countries to receive foreign direct investment (FDI). Countries looking for opportunities must first:

Dambisa Moyo. Photo Credit: Fortune Live Media, used under Creative Commons.
Dambisa Moyo. Photo Credit: Fortune Live Media, used under Creative Commons.
  1. Receive a rating (This determines how likely it is that a country can repay money it’s given and how much it will cost for them to borrow in terms of interest rates.)
  2. Seek out potential investors (A country must pursue those that they seek investments from.)
  3. Receive the investment. (Once a length of time and rates are agreed upon.)
Photo Credit: LendingMemo.com, Simon Cunningham
Photo Credit: LendingMemo.com, Simon Cunningham, used under Creative Commons

Moyo’s Dead Aid was written in 2009, and Sachs’ The End of Poverty in 2005. Prior to Moyo’s book, the economic crisis of 2008 caused FDI to developing nations to take a serious hit. While it had taken some time for countries to recover, Africa’s rate of FDI has been increasing, jumping by 6.8%. Since that time, FDI has been holding much steadier.

According to a June 2014 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Northern and Western countries of Africa saw a decrease in FDI this past year, but a rise was seen in East Africa. In Southern Africa, the rate of investment nearly doubled. Although the level of investment has decreased a bit in some areas and increased in others, the overall FDI rate as a whole for African rose by 4%. Something that I did notice in my sources, however, is that some of the largest portions of investment and return are seen in Southern Africa in particular.

Burkina Faso in particular has struggled with finding investors. When they do receive investments, they are generally small and meant for goods/services, rather than infrastructure, an area where Burkina Faso struggles. The country is also landlocked, which limits its resources, and is small, which narrow its market opportunities.

Dambisa Moyo and Aid to Africa [Week 7]

1. Moyo’s Alternative Sources for Funding African Economies:

a. African governments should use Asian markets as a model for accessing international markets.

b. Africa should follow in China in their large investments in infrastructure.

c. Africa should strive for free trade concerning agricultural productions.

d. Africa should move towards financial intermediation.

I think using China as a model is a viable option for Africa. Although Moyo defines later on in the readings that democracy has had positive affects, it doesn’t prioritize what the African people need to be prioritized. Things like healthcare, education, food–those are priorities for the African people, more so above structure and policy that democracy can tend to emphasize.

2. In the history of aid, richer, more developed nations played a big part of aid. In Dead Aid, Moyo addresses aid agendas by the decade. While aid to Africa by major nations all had politically-backed interests, the one that surprised me the most was the Cold War battle of aid between the U.S and the USSR. I knew that African had been rife with regimes at one point, and that these regimes were responsible for corruption, brutality, and crimes against humanity. I didn’t know that man regimes were funded due to the conflicting interests of these nations. It seemed like in their quest to “save’ Africa with aid, they only financed its destruction.

3. I personally don’t know much about the Washington Consensus, aside from what Moyo mentions in Chapter 2 of Dead Aid. To my understanding, it offered a pre-established set of policy reforms and financial suggestions that, while controversial,  were accepted and put into practice by institutions like the World Bank.

4. Something that stood out to me was a statement that George Ayittey made when asked about his comments on Moyo’s Dead Aid. He gives some of the many reasons that aid to Africa is not working (similar to Moyo), but he says something at the end that caught my attention.

“Africa is poor because it is not free.”

Ayittey gives a list of six institutions that Africa could use, and I think that within each of these potential institutions lies a crucial freedom that African people need. For example, Ayittey proposes an “efficient and professional civil service”, which would allow people to receive critical services with freedom from the worry of discrimination. If Africa’s people are not free from the institutional chains that bind them, then they will continue to be poor, like Ayittey states.

In Dambisa Moyo’s TED talk, she poses China as the new economic model that countries are seeking to follow, which I wasn’t aware of either. According to her, China offers a model of economic growth that outshines the offerings of democracy, which in some instances, does not present countries with a sustainable model to pursue the economic development that they wish.

5. When Moyo (2009) alludes to the fact that some voices “can’t compete with an electric guitar”, she is pointing out that critical voices can not be heard in the celebrity spotlight that constantly seems to shine on aid (p. 27). Many celebrities take on causes and issues in the hopes of raising aid for a country, but much of their causes and perspectives are the only ones heard due to their star power. This drowns out necessary voices in the sphere of aid.

Kagame also points out an error in the way aid has operated for the past few years. Earlier on, Moyo mentions the Cold War and how the U.S and the USSR battled for the dominance of democracy and communism. In a way, Kagame suggests, they used Africa as a playing field, financing regimes without considering the potential consequences (p. 27).

6. Moyo gives quite a few reasons as to why aid isn’t working, but the two that stand out most to me are the historical and tribal reasoning. Africa has many diverse groups that in the process of the Berlin Conference, were grouped together without thought for the consequences. I do think that this was an original source of discontent within some African nations–when the citizens don’t get along, policy and aid can prove to be ineffective. This concept, coupled with the perception of Africans and dependent and unable to sustain without intervention,  just slows the pace at which a country can peacefully grow and find sustainability.

She also points out the tribal argument–that because of the diverse ethnic groups residing within Africa, in can be difficult to maintain impartiality in major governmental and national institutions. But as she quickly points out, this type of reasoning can not be blamed, since people function in cities and neighborhoods today without disruptive tribal dispute (p. 33). I don’t find her argument as clear here, since she gives many reasons why these factors can be discounted but it seems like they are more contributed to Africa’s struggle as a whole, outside of the effect of aid.

7. In my opinion, Moyo doesn’t give any specific solutions to how to overcome geographic, historical, cultural, tribal, and institutional barriers. She certainly shows how these issues have held back Africa in terms of development, but she gives one over-arching argument that I think applies: no matter what the barrier, it is nothing that African can’t overcome. In the case of historical and tribal conflicts, there are still many nations that have yet to find peace in the calamity. But as Moyo points out, there are several that have (p. 33). It’s the mindset that these barriers cannot be broken that is a problem.

In Burkina Faso, there is a deeply-rooted belief in witchcraft, a direct result of which widowed women/vulnerable people are thrown out or mistreated because of accusations. A large part of this is believed to be caused by poverty among people and the notion one less person can create on an already stressed system. However, legislation and organizations have emerged as a support system, because people recognize the harm that it’s doing. With any problem, you must recognize the problem and then move to fix it.

8. A major difference to me between Sachs and Moyo is that Sachs focuses on specific tasks that can be completed by the public/private sectors. Moyo focuses more on what can be done on the large-scale. I think in some respects Sachs’ plan could make more sense, since parceling out aid funds into projects leaves less room for corruption, unlike the large-infrastructure plans that Moyo proposes, which even she herself sources as a weakness.


Moyo, D. (2009). Dead aid: Why aid is not working and how there is another way for Africa. Penguin Books.