"T in [the] A" being Texas in Africa, and "F'ed in the A" being....well....I'm sure you'll get it. (no offence T-in-A)
Once again Kristof's name has been echoing throughout the Blogosphere due to his controversial mouth. This time he has been making the bold claim that DIY Aid projects are better/more effective than those implemented by large aid agencies.........Bring on the academic gang rape:
Tales from the Hood argues that aid isn't about us. - I still get paid though, right?
Dave Algoso argues that aid is actually some pretty hard and complicated work. He also points to the fact that Kristof fails to describe any local DIY aid projects and seems to really emphasise the notion of 'whites in shining armour'.
Also, on Kristof's point about "grassroots, locally owned aid projects have a better record than large scale, top-down ones that don’t always have the same buy-in"; I can't speak for everywhere, but here in South Sudan, a majority of projects are developed and implemented by local NGOs and civil society groups.......us foreign aid workers just throw money at people and take credit for the work.
Kristof then wrote a second piece in an attempt to counter the criticisms.
By this point Texas in Africa could take no more and wrote a beautiful piece on how Kristof's argument is really just based on anecdotal evidence rather than any real data. Why beautiful? Because I think it reflects the a major problem with DIY aid.
If we were to pretend that Kristof is the amateur implementing the DIY aid project, he would have gone to the field and implemented whatever genius idea he thought he had based on his anecdotal information that he received from some celebrity rather than real data that reflects the actual needs of the target community. They are called amateurs for a reason. For sure they can be effective, but at the same time, running a project based on anecdotal information can also mean that you are effective at causing more harm than good. Can we be sure that amateurs will be familiar with the necessary procedures such as 'Do No Harm'? If not, then where does the accountability land? If an aid agency messes up they will feel the wrath of the development gods, amateurs get to run back home and still feel good about themselves.
Anyways, if these people have such an urge to help the world and/or have a brilliant idea on how to save the world, why can't they work with the aid agencies? We don't accept mavericks in every other field, so why should they be allowed to run around the world under the banner of aid? Is it because they mean well so we give them a free pass? Well the machine gun preacher meant well, and so did the American Ninja in Afghanistan, but I think you will find very few people who would support them......wait......what?! There's going to be a Machine gun preacher movie?! and he is being portrayed as the hero?! Well, I guess I should start collecting all those old shirts I have then.