A nice road through the village

Kikube Masindi NW Uganda

If you live in rural Uganda  and or any other Sub Saharan Country for that matter chances are that the road through your village will look like the one in Kikube, unless of course your village is on a main road to somewhere such as  a  big  city or a tourist attraction

Minor roads leading off the  main roads are not sealed (murram) and generally speaking are  OK during the dry weather bar the dust that passing traffic generates and if  well maintained they serve the villages well. Driving on these  murram roads requires exceptional skills!

The main roads  those leading to large towns and cities are usually tarmac and are part of most African countries strategy to improve trade. Goods in Uganda are mostly transported by road and I can imagine a huge chunk of the country’s infrastructure budget is spent on these  major roads.  These  roads are almost always paid for by donor agencies/AID and chances are that this is only benefit that some folk on the ground will experience –  A NICE ROAD THROUGH THE VILLAGE!

It is easy to be cynical about the idea of giving the poor a nice road when they have nothing to eat but imagine if you will a woman in labour trying to get to a hospital that is 2 hours away on a poor or no road at all!  In fact a few days ago I came across a man at a networking event who was doing some research on this issue. He is convinced that African women’s reproductive health is impacted by the quality of roads in Africa

Kabale Road Ruhanga SW Uganda

But for the folk of  Ruhanga SW Uganda (see photo above),   a nice road through their village has mixed blessings so to say. Ruhanga  is on the main road  to Kabale, Congo, Rwanda and a major tourist attraction- MOUNTAIN GORILLAS.  Having this nice roads means that folk can get to hospital easily and can take advantage of passing trade  but the nice road has become a death trap and only a few weeks ago we lost Witness a 4 year old in a car accident.

The irony of this situation is a couple of years ago there were some deep potholes in the road which forced drivers to slow down and in turn we had fewer accidents in the village.

We also learned that Uganda’s Minister of works has no intention of putting in any form of traffic calming measures. I am not quite sure what if anything the community can do about this whole situation as I know for a fact that Witness’ death is not the first nor will it be the last  and judging from the email we got from the secretary of the Community Based Organisation there is nothing they can do and expect answers or a solution from us.

He said- I am sure the news of Witness’ death has reached you by now and I am really not sure what you are going to do to ensure the safety of very young children a very busy high way with undisciplined drivers of small and heavy trucks

Your thoughts please!

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Why do 60% of UK public think overseas Aid wasted?

Valerie Amos, Baroness Amos at the 2007 World ...

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The British government pledged to ring fence its Overseas Aid of  0.7% of national income. To  date the British public continue to ask why is that? In fact in a recent BBC Radio 4 interview , Andrew Mitchell The Secretary of state for International Development DFID had to answer the question


Why do 60% of  UK public think overseas Aid is wasted? And if that is the case should we continue to send our hard earned cash overseas?

and his answer

If we do not send the money to help alleviate problems like poverty, extreme hunger, these problems will turn up on our door step

Does he have a point?


On the face of it he does. So the question is has our sending overseas Aid stopped these problems turning up on our door stop?

The answer is NO.


British people are generous and are quick to respond to calls of help when there is an emergency elsewhere and have responded generously to the crisis in the horn of Africa and that being the case why would 60% of them think that overseas Aid is wasted? This article in The Mail Online has some answers

I have previously asked the question Why do parts of  Africa remain desperately despite the Aid that we send? and in another post I asked why India, a country that reportedly has its own Overseas Aid program has more poor people than some parts of Africa?

This all sounds to me like either

  1. Mr Mitchell has not not been effective at getting his message out there
  2. or that he needs to show us the UK public where our money goes in real terms and unfortunately for some that will mean that some of those “problems” he mentioned during his radio interview do not continue to show up on our door step


What do you think?

I am going to keep this post short to encourage discussion and will return to the topic in the next post – but in the mean time do join the conversation and don’t forget to invite your friends


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Top tips on how to help folk in the developing world

It is day 2 of Nikki P’s 30 day blog challenge and if you missed day1 you can catch up here. My task for today is to give you the readers some tips  regarding my area of work

This was always going to be a difficult one for me as there are no fast rules here. But I will give it a try by answering a question that comes up time and time again

What can we in the West do to help folk in Africa?

  1. Involve the community right from the start in any development programme to ensure that you don’t find yourself in the same situation Madonna did, as correcting mistake can be expensive and a lot of harm may have been done by then.
  2. if you want to help, do your home work and find out who needs your help, find out too if your values and theirs line up, this will save you heartache along the way. For example if you believe AID as tool to fight poverty is wrong then seek out organisations that help communities become self sufficient such as the charity  SEND A COW
  3. money is hard to come by these days and if you are like me you probably  need every penny you make, but at some level you feel that you ought to make a contribution to folk in the developing world. My tip would be look at shopping your habits.  The choices you make can create a win win win situation which ensures that although you have parted with your your money it has gone towards something you wanted to buy anyway, so you have something to show for your money but the person in the developing world has earned an income by virtue of your purchase and the retailer has earned an income too. How would this work in practice? Well, you maybe looking for new summer accessories and where you choose to buy these accessories may impact folk in the developing world.

    Fashion accessories for Summer from Ethnic Supplies

  4. Finally have you considered sharing your skills with folk in the developing world.  Now most folk I come across do not know that they have skills folk need or are worried about being required by orgnanisations to commit to a specific number of months whilst some worry about cost. This needn’t be the case, and if you don’t believe me check this out this project. If you ordinarily spend your two week holiday in Ibiza, you may want to spend it in a a typical African village, where you could learn about their  way of life,  teach English in a local school etc- this would mean an alternative holiday for you but also the folk in the community would benefit from any skills you may have. I can also guarantee that this would be the best holiday you ever took

So there you have it folk,  these tips will enable you

  • to  help those less fortunate than you are without breaking into  a bank,
  • support causes that appeal to your core values by creating  win, win win situations that mean you have something to show for your hard earned cash
  • and also enable you to share your skills with folk in the developing world