Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Machine Gun Present

Oh joy, the lovely folks at Invisible Children, in collaboration with the Enough! project, gave the Machine Gun Preacher a fancy new app that helps him track LRA movement. Now he can easily capture more LRA soldiers.....

I just hope that he doesn't accidentally get shot by those newly US trained soldiers.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crocheting out of poverty......?

My reaction after watching this video that my friend had sent me was:

"Oh, what a delightful little satirical video of crazy development aid projects."

I was convinced that this was a joke for four reasons:

1) Krocheting for Kids?!......Now that just sounds made up.

2) The three guys running the project look like cast members of a Saturday Night Live-like show (I thought I had been away for so long that these were just some comedians I hadn't heard of).

3) The fact that they used Bing to search for things on the internet.....I mean seriously, who actually uses Bing without being forced to.

and finally because of this guy:

 "Wow these guys must be super committed to the joke, they even made an entire website for it."

I must have watched the video 10 times over to find clues of it being a joke. I even started going through the website, reading all their finance report, while still thinking to myself; "This is one elaborate joke"............. I think the fact that they were advertising sweaters for chickens didn't really help.

Eventually, I came to terms with it. These guys were serious. 

So naturally, I put on my cynic cap on and began to think of the many ways in which this idea fails. 

"Hopefully, they actually cause more harm than they help...." I began to lustfully dream while stroking my chin. 

I came up with nothing*.

After getting over the mild depression that came with the death of my cynical side I began to think positively. 

As ridiculous as this idea was, it had its benefits. 1) capacity building, 2) creation of livelihoods, 3) sustainability (a donor somewhere just came himself). 
These guys aren't dumping these hats in the developing world (SWEDOW) and they aren't portraying their 'beneficiaries' (they don't actually eve use the word) as miserable helpless people (poverty porn) -- although thats probably because they can't afford to not have the camera focusing on anyone else but themselves (booya, I still got that snark). 

Although one thing that did get me thinking was their choice of location......Uganda. They have their story as to how they started there, but recently I have been hearing about a lot of these micro-development projects popping up there, e.g. DIG. It seems that Uganda has become a test market for all these new innovative projects. Maybe its because the country is relatively stable but just not too developed that you can't establish a grassroots project there. Anyways, it was just interesting to note. 

So in the end, as much as I would like to be a dick, I have to let these hipster bros (I have been away for too long) go, holster my guns of snark and save them for the day Prendergrast decides to rear his head back in the public will be soon. I can feel it. 

* So some negative things to point out: We have no idea where the materials/wool for these hats are coming from.....maybe they are conflict wool. Also, their finance report reads like a 9 year old's toy box inventory. Finally, the purchase of these hats may cause damage on the Chinese economy, the traditional manufacturer of junk. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ménage à trois?....more like an orgy

J at Tales from the Hood has a nice rant about shaking up current aid system, of which he describes as a ménage à trois between the donors, aid implementers and beneficiaries.

Now I don't know which aid system you're working in old man, but these days, we have let our hair down, got the lube out and are engaged in a full on orgy.

Here is how it goes down:

- Donor gives money to management consultancy firm who then gives that money to aid providers (AP)

- Only if donor is feeling like being dirty and going bareback will they directly give to APs.

- AP then has to find a local AP (L-AP) to actually implement the project because the AP staff don't actually speak the local language or know anything about the local culture. Sometimes AP has to use L-AP because the local government wants to see some of that sexy overhead money go to its own local companies...err, I mean L-AP.

- Some of that money goes to that mysterious consultant that just turns up from nowhere and has such an important sounding job title that you are simply forced to give him the cash in exchange for a ridiculously convoluted report.......who invited that guy anyways?

- L-AP doesn't actually have any technical skill or equipment so they hire contractors who are owned either by a local politician, some foreign guys (Eriterians, Lebanese, South Africans etc) or by a staff member of the AP.

- Consultant appears again and demands further payment for his services. Obviously he gets paid......Seriously guys, who invited that guy?

- L-AP director decides to pack his bags and just leave the country.....along with the money of course. Donor MUST NOT HER ABOUT THIS. AP steps in, finds another L-AP to complete the project using the same contractors. Consultant gets paid again.

- Beneficiary gets something.....wait, what was the project again? Oh, you mean you didn't more water supplies? Flooding you say? Well, you will have to simply wait until the next cycle little buddy.

- UN comes in and takes credit for EVERYTHING.


- Consultant gets paid again

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A challenger appears

So we have another South Sudan blogger amongst our midst, Tales of a Traveling Turkey. While the title seriously requires some rebranding (I imagine this is simply due to the location of where this blog was conceived), it is worth a read for the antics of an aid worker travelling between Ethiopia and South Sudan. Whats the best post from this blog you ask? Why of course its the one that refers to this blog.......