Category Archives: Aid

Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:    
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1


Rusty and Golden Radiators- the winners are in!

Last year we briefly featured the Rusty Radiator Awards. Now they back again for 2015! Basically put this organization takes nominations for the best (Golden Radiator) and worst (Rusty Radiator) of aid and charity campaign advertising, critiquing the harmful reproduction of stereotypes and the applauding the agency of “victims”. The runners-up also offer compelling examples of the “good” and “bad”.

Here is the Rusty Radiator winner (think harmful stereotypes).

And, the Golden Radiator winner.

With a runner-up from Burkina Faso,

Global Governance and the Politics of Aid: Behemoth and the Business

[UK MoD- DfID worker checking supplies on a RAF C17 bound for the Philippines (2013)]

The following is a short review of the University of Bradford’s recent symposium Global Governance and the Politics of Aid, held on April 30th to May 1st.


David Hulme, as the keynote speaker, set the tone for what is clearly the current trend in global governance, development and aid, quoting Lawrence Finkelstein,

Does it really clarify matters, however, or facilitate the research enterprise, to toss them in a hopper along with states, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and Moody’s Investor’s Service? “Global governance” appears to be virtually anything…we say “governance” because we don’t really know what is going on.’  

Hulme also identified tensions between UK DfID-style “results based management”, gettinWEF Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Thabo Mbeki, Tony Blair, Bono, Olusegun Obasanjo - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2005g UK taxpayer “value for money”, and, more globally, increased scope of private investment and, of course, the Chinese. Aid, confusingly is now operating in a “post-aid” world, but perhaps still subject to likes the usual suspects at a “global governance” level (see image). With Bill Gates being campaigned to take on the battle for climate change it seems that if global governance is anything, it is high-level players operating outside the traditional realm of international politics.

This behemoth comes complete with own set of generalized metrics with which most are familiar: Millennium Develop Goals (and whatever “child” this framework will spawn for the future), and the so-called lightening rod rhetoric of a “dollar a day”. The latter is critiqued by many, and notably by Thomas Pogge arguing for the insufficiency of this tool, due to the difficulty of measuring poverty itself. Pogge implicates the World Bank in offering a skewed picture of decreasing poverty,

The World Bank’s own data show that, if they had chosen a more adequate poverty line, perhaps one twice as high at $2.50 per person per day, US dollars of the year 2005 converted at purchasing power parities, then they would have found a slight increase in the number of poor people between 1990 and 2005, the last year for which full data are now available. So it is essential to the World Bank’s upbeat picture that it chooses an extremely low poverty line. As every resident of the US can confirm, you could not have met your basic needs here in 2010 on $1.40 per day or $510 per year.

It seems that in some respects the institutions of the behemoth produce and consume their own “truth” in a high-level, closed-loop space. A space where, as Hulme points out, Bono’s special red card can sooth the souls of western capitalists, so-called “conscience consumers”, buying and spending their way to the delivery the poor and hungry.

According to another symposium participant and presenter, Emma Mawdsley, the business man now reigns supreme in the barracks of DfID, where the simplistic conflation of development and growth means the politics, power, and purse are being increasingly handed over to hedge funds, private public partnerships, and technocrats measuring the poverty of a single life through evidence-based metrics. Yet, Mawdsley holds out some glimmer of hope in face of the inevitability of the business takeover of DfID, with the promise of an injection of new approaches and ideas on the ground. Nonetheless, warnings abound for DfID to mutate into a “export credit agency”, when is ignores emphasis on labour rights of those exposed to this new delivery of aid.

South-South cooperation and the likes of institutions such as BRICS also came under scrutiny. Whilst it is true that China offers its aid, development, and emerging economic power without the pesky strings of human rights guarantees, it is perhaps not a free-wheeling as some would believe. According to participant, and Bradford professor Prathivadi Anand China gives out more than it receives from OECD countries, and deploys various financial-development instruments (lines of credit, infrastructure investment, loans, grants). From 2000-2011, it gave $104 billion in Africa, with Nigeria and Ghana as top recipients, and dominating the sectors of transport, energy and “unspecified” aid. Despite all the fuss made about Chinese neocolonial interests in Africa’s natural resources, it in fact gives more to South America than it does on the rising continent.


A slice of consensus from the symposium, stemming from Hulme’s critique of NGOs, was that if the above directions of aid and development are in fact true, then it is up to NGOs to engage on a grassroots level politically to fight for rights of aid recipients. This might be the only hope for more participatory methods of development where recipients are treated as constituents in a political climate capable of facilitating of accountability, peace and justice. Some African states themselves are also coming into their own with what the Dean of Bradford’s Faculty of Social Sciences Donna Lee termed “African agency” by utilizing James Scott’s “weapons of weak”. Doing discursive battle with Western donors, African states, she believes are engaging donors with a mimetic challenge, holding up the mirror of norms and preconditions of delivery. If the encroachment of special or corporate interests and the rights of the recipient, it looks like the challenge lies at the feet of those still struggling to feed, clothe, and survive in pressuring governments and NGOs to practice good governance, transparency and grassroots representation.

***Watch this space for audio/visual of David Hulme’s lecture***

References and Further Reading:

Lawrence Finkelstein, ‘What is Global Governance,’ Global Governance 1 (1995).

Nicola Banks, David Hulme, Michael Edwards, ‘NGOs, States, and Donors revisited: Still Too Close for Comfort?’ World Development 66 (2015).

Duncan Green, ‘Book Review of ‘Advocacy in Conflict’ – a big attack on politics and impact of global campaigns,’ From Poverty to Power (2015).

China’s Global Reach graphic

[WEF Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Thabo Mbeki, Tony Blair, Bono, Olusegun Obasanjo - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos (2005)]

Down with NGOs! More civil society needed?

Another interesting and passionate debate on Duncan Green’s blog- this time on criticism of NGOs as agents of poverty reduction.  It clearly hits a nerve!

JEFCAS picks up the theme of NGO effectiveness in panel at the African Studies Association Conference in Leeds tomorrow exploring relationships between Southern and Northern NGO discourse.

Moses Okech will dissect the contraversial Invisible Children youtube viral video on the LRA in Northern Uganda, Job Akuni will  the engagement of African Diaspora organisations in doing ‘development’ and Andrew Mushi of Mzumbe University, Tanzania will argue that NGOs and the aid business on which they are founded hinder more than help sustainable and genuine development.  We will make the presentations available here when the conference finishes.

Tanzania- Addicted to Aid and seeking a new vision?

2011 marked the 50th year of Tanganyikan independence (becoming Tanzania in 1964). The  African Economic Outlook (AEO) for 2011 notes that Tanzania is the recipient of the highest levels development assistance in Africa.  At the same time, donors also hail Tanzania as a development success- it has had a number of years of  strong economic growth.  It has attracted foreign investment and opportunities for private enterprise are expanding.  The AEO report does note that some of the economic growth is also due to large inflows of aid and suggest that a budget deficit is also growing.

Aid has always played a significant role in Tanzania and Tanzania has danced successfully to the donors tune- during the Nyerere era, then market liberalisation, through to the preparation of Poverty Reduction Strategies (MKUKUTA) in the new millennium.

Mwalimu Nyrerere stated in the 1967 Arusha Declaration that:

It is stupid to rely on money as the major instrument of development when we know only too well that our country is poor. It is equally stupid, indeed it is even more stupid, for us to imagine that we shall rid ourselves of our poverty through foreign financial assistance rather than our own financial resources.

World Bank figures suggest that Tanzania received 46$ per person in ODA in 1990, falling to 31$ in 2000 and rising again to 55$ per person in 2009.  Dependence on aid to fund social programmes is growing not falling.

Where aid has changed social indicators:

Tanzania is highly likely to meet the MDG on Primary School Enrollment- debt cancellation and direct budget support led to a rapid expansion in primary school enrollment through abolition of fees and a programme of classroom building.  Yet education quality has been eroded and classrooms offer few useful skills.  A two tier system is increasing inequality with those who can pay putting their children into English language private schools and the rest left behind in classes of 100……..

The MDG on Infant mortality (but not maternal mortality) may also be achieved. Hans Rosling on the wonderful gap minder website hails Tanzania as reducing infant mortality faster than Sweden ever did but he does acknowledge that this is largely due to aid spending.

However income poverty has remained persistent- reducing in the urban areas but falling only marginally in the rural area (37.6% in 2007 from 38.7% in 2001) but due to population growth it is estimated that there are 1.3 million more individuals living in poverty in Tanzania than a decade ago.  The World Bank figures also suggest that 34% of the population is undernourished as compared to 28% in 1990.  Inflation in the consumer prices index stands at 19.8% and puts pressure on family spending.

So what is going wrong?  Why is poverty still so persistent?  I remember buying a book at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in 2004 (with contributions by a range of eminent Tanzanian intellectuals) which was titled: “Why is Tanzania still poor after 40 years of independence?”  In 2012 – this title still rings true only another decade has passed.  Aid is clearly not the answer and in fact is part of the problem but I will return to this another time.

Using the power of social media I asked students studying Masters Degrees as part of the Bradford-Mzumbe collaboration for their assessment of Tanzania@50 and received many interesting answers which I have tried to summarise:

Tanzania can be proud of being a peaceful country for the last 50 years but now there is a lack of leadership and vision.  Direct criticism of Kikwete see him as continuously engaged in foreign trips for the purposes of begging for more aid- this set of comments on his recent trip to Davos have been circulated far and wide on the internet. External aid and loans fund the lifestyles of the political and aid class- fueling spending on sitting allowances and luxurious cars.  Leaders, Civil Society Activists and Intellectuals have a duty to challenge this.

Inequality is growing- the rich can pay for services but the poor must make do with what is left behind.  Power shortages, unemployment and poor infrastructure are holding the country back.

Tanzania is rich in resources (land and minerals) yet the government has allowed foreign companies to rush in and take what they want and to enjoy long tax holidays and bribes.  Economic growth has been in aid, mining and tourism not in the sectors that would reduce poverty such as agriculture.

So what will we be saying in another 10 years?  Will a new vision for the future emerge?  A swell of criticism of the government in both the traditional and social media suggests a new generation gaining in voice and in a collective momentum to challenge the status quo…. will this be enough?

Rights are more than words on paper

A couple of weeks ago we released a briefing paper summarising some on-going research in Northern Tanzania on a small project working with groups of People Living with HIV/AIDS to claim their rights as defined by the 2008 Tanzanian HIV/AIDS Act.  We are now pleased to present the full working paper which you can download on the publications page.

The paper shows how a small NGO project could act as a catalyst in starting processes of change without creating dependency on aid and through working directly with existing state institutions.  Using a rights-based approach requires long-term commitment and HIV/AIDS magnifies inequality in both poverty and gender.  Reflecting on this research I am left with the conclusion that further work on rights is required but those rights are not just for those living with HIV/AIDS but broader rights and entitlements which fundamentally challenge gender inequality and poverty in Tanzania.  This is a challenge for a country such as Tanzania in which inequality and the numbers of people living in poverty is growing despite record economic growth.  I will be returning to this topic in my next post but in the meantime you might be interested in the latest African Economic Outlook report on Tanzania.