"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


shameless self-promotion and you should read this

I'm speaking on the Congo twice tomorrow, both times in Georgia. Here are the details:
  • Thursday, October 28 at Columbus State University at 12:30pm in the International House. I'll be giving a lecture on Conflict & Peace in the DR Congo.
  • Thursday, October 28 at Emory University, I'll be on a panel about conflict minerals and the Congo sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta. It's at 7:13pm (yes, that's the right time) in White Hall room 206.
I'd love to meet blog readers at either of these events; please stop by to say hi if you can make it.

Also, you should go read Dave Algoso's piece at Foreign Policy. Dave explains (much more politely than I could have) why The Kristof's DIY aid solution is not a good idea. At all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


"The world of aid has spent the last 50 years grappling with these questions. The development industry is by no means perfect, but it has made progress and learned valuable lessons."

Leave it to the professionals? Lol. "Learned valuable lessons" Lol. the phrase seems very close to "lessons have been learned" which is a phrase that organizations come out with when they have made a total mess of things.

The bigger organizations are, the more likely they are to be inefficient. Only need to read through your past blogs to see this. A catalogue of governments the UN and the big, long established Charities making a dogs breakfast of things decade after decade across the globe.

If you are going to give money to a Charity you are often better off giving to a small one where the money will not be swallowed up by administration and is less likely to be run to give cushy jobs to its members.

Foreign aid "taking money from poor people in rich countries to give to rich people in poor counties".

Good luck to the good Samaritans and small or recent charities. Doubt they can do a worse job than the professional bureaucrats.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 2:22:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon, do you have any data that supports these claims?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 5:15:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Texasinafrica you are being too vague. You have to narrow down what "claims" you mean and if you disagree with them.

For example little point posting reams of stuff on the inefficiency of large organizations if everyone generally agrees on the subject.

Easy to say small organisations are inefficient but then when you flip the argument are they less efficient than big organizations?

Not a tea party supporter but certainly they have a point when the point to the weaknesses of big government.

Guess a good example would be yourself. Do you think you would be more "efficient" with your bloging if you were part of some vast organization?

A single person can make a difference for good or ill.

Thursday, October 28, 2010 6:06:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

No data, no response.

Saturday, October 30, 2010 9:21:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Also, you should go read Dave Algoso's piece at Foreign Policy. Dave explains (much more politely than I could have) why The Kristof's DIY aid solution is not a good idea. At all."

Your opinion on someone giving their opinion on someone's else's opinion. Where's your data on big organisations like the UN or huge charities being more efficient then smaller efforts?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1324322/Foreign-aid-millions-wasted-taxis-doing-office.html could paste plenty of stories up along the same lines as for Data on the UN being inefficient you could try here http://texasinafrica.blogspot.com/ .

Amazing we have a week of how social scientist think articles but suddenly you dry up when you face questions on society like are big organizations better than small ones.

Thought at least you would give your view on this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Is_Beautiful
bit like a Shakespearian scholar refusing to comment on Hamlet.

No data, no response.

Sunday, October 31, 2010 1:58:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer surely, as i think may have been suggested by a commenter upon DA's articles, either on his blog or the FP, is that neither he nor Kristof are wholly right.

Look at Rwanda for a second. Much progress has been made but mostly without international NGOs and much without help from international funders. The idea of Imidugudu - the creation of housing estates with better access to services to replace slum areas or scattered rural dwellings - has been rejected by funders along with the "one cow per family" programme. The fibre optic network is also being funded by Rwanda's own money. Some funders have rejected the idea of a service based economy based upon lots of IT. There are funders and NGOs with their own agendas. Do all other Africans feel happy about Rwanda doing well? If NGOs were getting funding and not the govt they would concentrating upon "civil society" rather than the priorities of the current govt. So I do not agree that just because you work for an NGO or the World Bank or DFID that you are necessarily an expert. And Dave is not one. He has studied in the USA (and credit to him for helping to initiate these discussions) but big deal.

The banana fibre pads are a good example. If they are so fundamental and NGOs are so wonderful why has none of them done this? Or the Rwandan govt?

I firmly believe that "small is big" in relation to aid projects. You are less likely to be dependent upon govt to do something. It is easier to administer. It is less risky. But of course there are things that can only be done by bigger bodies since they need more management, more people on the ground etc.

Obsessives can make a difference just as well as NGOs can make mistakes or waste money. It should not just be a good/bad discussion.

Monday, November 01, 2010 6:37:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

DA is responding to the debate on his blog FindWhatWorks. You are unlikely to get much sense about Aid from the Daily Mail.

Monday, November 01, 2010 7:24:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Um, Rwanda is teeming with international aid agencies. And a good bit of "Rwanda's own money" was stolen from the DRC.

Monday, November 01, 2010 12:20:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Onedeadbudgie.


“Professional aid organizations”
"Some people seemed to read this phrase and think of the World Bank, IMF, USAID (plus its contractors and the big NGOs), and their ilk. I didn’t mean it to be so limiting. I think of the development industry in much broader terms. You don’t have to be a massive organization to be “professional” — but you do need to be an organization."

"Qualifications of a professional"
Commitment. Just a one-word answer."

(five blogs to row back and qualify what he said first time round, guess, he will not be getting Kristof job any time soon. Gone from leave it to the experts to everyone can join in, with even a section for the people who do not fit his definition of a professional.)

"If our disagreements spring from different understandings of terms or unintended inferences, rather than actual disagreements, that’s my failure as a writer." Lol.

"There were also some nuanced fence-sitters and a few strongly worded condemnations. Both of these are appreciated as well. In fact, there was very little written that I don’t agree with on some level." Lol.

Guess his article was one big misunderstanding.
"The challenge is to cultivate an ideology of altruism, to spread a culture of social engagement — and then to figure out what people can do at a practical level." Kristof, probably by the end of the explanations Dave Algoso will be agreeing with that if he does not already.

Monday, November 01, 2010 1:02:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


A "good bit of Rwanda's money was stolen from the DRC".

Evidence please.

Monday, November 01, 2010 2:34:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

@onedeadbudgie Start here:

Monday, November 01, 2010 2:40:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read it before. "Nkunda had a bank account in Kigali (which I also did at the time) so he was being backed by Rwanda?" Not convinced.

Monday, November 01, 2010 3:11:00 PM

Blogger ewaffle said...

Severine Autesserre discuses it Rwandan looting of the eastern DRC The Trouble with the Congo, pp 64-65:

"RCD-G troops and subsequently the troops of General Nkunda, secured, taxed, and supervised the exploitation and transportation of the valuable raw materials in their area of control to Rwanda."

Her sources include Global Witness, 2005, Under-Mining Peace: The Explosive Trade in Cassiterite in Eastern DRC, some papers from the International Crisis Group and some reports from the UN.

Gerard Prunier in Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe covers Rwandan looting in some detail--I don't have the book close at hand but recall that, among other things, he tracks the growth of Rwandan diamond exports during its occupation of the diamond mining areas of the DRC.

Monday, November 01, 2010 7:50:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RCD and Nkunda are not Rwandans they are Congolese. So they exported through Rwanda, the nearest stable place and you think that this meant the items were being stolen by Rwanda? This is nonsense.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010 6:21:00 AM

Blogger Rich said...

Ref # "I have read it before. "Nkunda had a bank account in Kigali (which I also did at the time) so he was being backed by Rwanda?" Not convinced."

Ref # "RCD and Nkunda are not Rwandans they are Congolese."

One may need a thesis in denial theories to get to grips with some double standards displayed here.

Why has Nkunda not been extradited to his ‘alleged’ country then?

Some said, because of the death sentence in the DRC’s law; but strong evidence shows that no death sentence has been executed in the DRC since almost 9 years! E.g. those convicted of killing L D Kabila are still in prison ... Kokamwah...

Ref # “A "good bit of Rwanda's money was stolen from the DRC"...Evidence please.”

See Rwandan mineral production, 1995-2000; Coltan, cassiterite and gold figures derived from Rwandan Official Statistics (No. 227/01/10/MIN)1995-2000. Diamond High Council do have some interesting figures too.

Here I'm not even talking about the war in Kisangani between rwanda and Uganda armies or the nice cars with DRC's number plates taken to rwanda by rwandan army officers in 1998. These are open secrets so no need for evidence OKAY?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010 8:25:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Gang, it is an incontrovertible fact that Rwanda does not have mineral reserves capable of producing the quantities of minerals the country produces each year. The government claims otherwise, but they are lying. Rwandan minerals sold on the international market are almost always in reality Congolese minerals. This is indisputable and has been confirmed by the UN, a wide variety of academic researchers in a wide variety of fields, diplomats, and everyone else who is capable of taking an objective view of the situation.

I would like to suggest that everyone please stop feeding the trolls here. We're dealing with people who don't understand what facts are. There's no reasonable argument in that situation.

Thursday, November 04, 2010 1:34:00 PM

Anonymous Mary Hoyt said...

oh man! i missed you speaking on the drc 10 min from my house!? 2 days notice? come on, please do let us know of any other speaking engagements coming up!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9:20:00 PM


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