25 Nov 2013

Aid and Development - David Takawira

NAYD's first debate took place on Sat 23 November when the case for and against Aid was argued by two young African leaders. David Takawira shares his own personal views on this sensitive topic, arguing that without the involvement of youth and women Aid is ineffective.

Effective and Efficient Aid: A shared Vision

My village-Matsveru in rural Bikita[1] has turned into a laughing stock in a fast developing world were Aid and Development have become central catalysts to daily livelihood to those who have grasped the concept and ideals of accountability, participation and transparency. Once, I used to chase the USAID and the World Vision trucks to the church centre were we gathered for food, books and farming inputs. I recall going to school each morning only to be supported with reading and writing books, feed by our teacher to morning-porridge[2] which gave me strength to learn and participate in class and sporting activities. These books, pens and food came from friends outside my country, so we were told to thank God for having such supportive friends who understood our plight. Equally put the flow of support (Aid) could be traced and appreciated with each family especially those in dire need having an equal share or better.
Today I sit here heartbroken; we are all over the news if it is not my fellow peers being eaten by crocodiles in the Limpopo River, it is my sisters in the street corners selling themselves to prostitution, or the political leadership declaring war on the same people who have helped us over the past centuries. The same politicians have unashamedly personalised resources in form of money and food meant for community development for their personal gains. They have used donations from friends of afar fields to kill, suppress and maintain their hold on power. Unfortunately Aid has become a tool of weapon in Zimbabwe, more specifically my rural home and no doubt in other communities across the globe.
As if the above was not enough, a daily occurrence that breaks my heart as I think about my village and more importantly about Aid and Development, at every corner of the road I see blind people, old man and women, street children begging for cloths, money and food – these are my people l have made sure by greeting them in local vernacular languages. To think that these people were once properly looked after at hospices and charity homes like Mother of Peace and the Jairos Jiri centres, these centres had become beacons of hope through the Aid programs of yester-years. I do not share the current trajectories or vision for Aid or development as promulgated by my Government or some bogus non-governmental organisations playing the intermediary role; this is not my vision for Aid and Development, one that was once informed by my childhood. It has come to this state mainly because of poor governance systems and structures without strong policy and an enabling environment.
My vision for effective Aid is one that is participativetransparent, community empoweringnon-discriminatory or partisanadds value and relevance to the development trajectory of my community one that acts as an investment vehicle in infrastructure and entrepreneurship, Aid as a rights based process recognising the importance of lowering the administrative costs to allow for the broader chunk to flow to the grassroots and one that I can identify with (ownership). For effective Aid and Development, I envision a platform which addresses five fundamental processes, the way youth and women can be involved in the eradication of poverty and hunger; achieving universal education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global participation for Aid and Development. Without the above pre-conditions the vicious cycle of corruption, poverty, inequalities necessitated by poor management of Aid will continue.
As a result, without the involvement of youth and women to such processes effective Aid and Development will remain figments of our own imaginations. To illustrate the importance of the above, Haiti is a country in crisis and yet I listen and watch hourly news hoping to find solace on any report that tells a positive story. Today, the current Aid mechanisms have failed to properly alleviate young women and man in the streets of Haiti, Zimbabwe, Somali and Sudan to mention just but a few. In light of the above my vision for effective Aid and Development is one that is informed by the involvement of youths and women.
My heart bleeds each time my Member of Parliament profiles us on political party lines and feeds us to the ‘Dogs’, when development practitioners whom we look up to assume political roles over our lives living us to crave for dear life in the mountainous areas of Bikita or Mutare. More-often the political leadership and development practitioners alike fail to account for and be transparent in distributing Aid meant for our development and community growth, such Aid might be in the form of food or financial resources targeting specific developmental goals for instance building of a school block. The end result women are raped; youths are recruited into militia camp as means of survival.
To understand my vision for Aid and Development, it is important to unpack what Aid and Development means to me and my community. Aid is anything fiscal or non-fiscal that is channelled or given to an individual or a group of individuals for purposes of enhancing their livelihoods; it is intend to alleviate challenging circumstances for saving or sustaining lives at a given time and location be it humanitarian, charitable or organized. Conversely Development is a continuum process towards a better sustainable livelihood of a given individual or community which can be measured incrementally over time. In respect of the above Aid becomes one of the catalysts for Development.
To further unpack my vision for Aid, it is of paramount importance for Aid Agencies, CSOs and Government to undertake mapping exercise in-order to identify gaps within a nation’s geo-political landscape. In understanding the above it will also inform the role of Military in Aid and Development trajectories of any given nation or society. Effective Aid thus involves understanding the geo-socio and political environment of a given society at the same time strengthening the capacity of communities to achieve their goals and targets.
My vision for Aid and Development is one that is informed by meaniful citizen participation both at implementation and monitoring level, one that speaks to the values embedded in my community’s culture, free from political manipulation. Meaniful citizen participation means that my community and I should be involved in identifying the type, quality and quantity of Aid and how it should be channelled to inform our community’s developmental vision and growth. This vision can not be achieved over-night or without setting correct standards for Aid and Development. The standards have to be well known throughout communities, old and young people alike should have the capacity to demand accountability, transparency with out fear of intimidation or victimisation from any political or non-governmental organisations at any given time. To achieve this there is need to organise towards campaigns that seek to promote development, effective and efficient Aid that is free from shackles of political machineries.
Furthermore, for genuine Aid processes to be incremental the receiving Government, Implementers, and communities should be able to account for the Aid received while the Development Partners who would have extended their Aid in support should be transparent to the process. In doing so, both the Government and Aid agencies will be accountable and transparent to communities making development accessible to all at any given time. On the lowest end of the chain, the chief[3] who receives and keeps records of those poor in a given community should be equally accountable and transparent in their handling of Aid.
This vision should be community empowering, Aid should be a positive catalyst for development not dependence. Aid should give me the capacity to do things that I was not able to do before while supporting my immediate needs. If Aid and Development speaks to community empowering poverty, violence, intimidation and harassment will be history, as communities will be empowered both intellectually and resource generation/management to wade off any political infiltration and manipulation. Just like any country, Zimbabwe is endowed with highly qualified personal that has fled the country as a result of the political and economic challenges facing the country. More to this challenge is the availability of such personal and skills which can be harnessed for effective and efficient development through Aid in the form of remittances.
In addition Development Partners and Government should work towards a non-discriminatory or partisan Aid and Development program for sustainability and growth at all levels. Non-discriminatory Aid would ensure that minority groups are well looked after, people with disabilities are not subjected to undue process while those living with HIV are not side-lined on political grounds. Political parties in Government and out of Government with their Civil Society Organisations counter-parts should sign non-discriminatory clauses that will be constitutional under social and economic rights of a given Government.
After all things have been said and done, my vision for Aid is one that adds value, to my community’s way of life. This is when Aid and Development become a right not a privilege, one that I can identify with in the short and long run. To ensure that such processes yields positive results there is a definite need to work together at community and international level in arresting habits that do not feed into a shared vision of effective and efficient Aid and Development. In adding value and ownership there is need to support entrepreneurial activities that are sustainable at community and individual levels unlike the channelling of Aid were there is no development plan for sustainability.
My vision for effective Aid and Development is one that is also informed with Community partnership between Civil Society Organisations on one hand and Government on the other. This in-turn will ensure job creation through voluntary work opportunities at village level linking communities with Aid Agencies and Government. As a result citizens’ voices to democratic participation and community governance systems are upheld and respected.
One key element that continues to undermine the effectiveness of Aid and Development is the unavailability of clear mechanisms of punishment. Such mechanisms should be enforceable at community, provincial and national Government level while at the same time receiving Governments should be answerable to the International community through the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to mention just but a few. Effective Aid can only be achieved when viewed as a right, punishable as a criminal offence to divert for personal use and when taken seriously by Governments, Civil Society Organisations and Aid Agencies.
Effective Aid can add value to my community and can only be effective when committing Aid agencies do not renege on their promise, when Aid is delivered on time every-time. While on the on the other hand Governments are proactive is detecting areas needing support. This special relationship between Agencies and my receiving Government should be respected and honoured to save lives.
In a nutshell my vision for effective Aid is one that feeds on the potential of receiving communities, one that has a life span for monitoring and reviewing purposes and one with visible, tangible evidence at the end of the Aid process. In other words Aid should be channelled through sustainably tailor made community or national projects. For this process to be effective and efficient Governments and local Civil Society Organisations should work together in create an enabling environment for development advancement through Aid effectiveness to take root. This is my vision for effective Aid and Development.

[1] Matsveru in rural Bikita is a village name. Its found in Masvingo Province in Zimbabwe one of the highly politicised provinces in Zimbabwe
[2] Porridge is a thick meal made from mealie-meal
[3] Chief- is a cultural term used to refer to the head of the village who is responsible for all the inhabitants of that area and its development.