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23.05.2007 - 09:50: RCA troubles | Citeren Citeren

Hans



This country is going down the drain. The only thing that can save it is
money, investements, business. But who would like to start something here?
Boy what a crap." That was end of March.
I guess that this kind of stress does not help his stomach problems either.
This kind of work in countries like that require you to be a bit of a stoic
person. In addition to that the weather is getting more dangerous as well.

I do not know whether the French did the right thing. What mattered for them
was probably to keep the right person in power so that France can go on
doing business the way they used to, ripping the country off like every
other former colonial power. I am sure that they would have been able to
calm down everything but at what cost for France? Nobody really cares what
is going on in some forgotten corner of a country that at least half of the
Europeans do not even know that it exists. The questions remains unanswered
whether a change in the power structure in CAR would have changed things for
the people.

Try to get the book (this is only the German title) "Das Imperium der
Schande" by Jean Ziegler. Very interesting read. I told you about it when I
was still in Bangui. Shows you how money rules everywhere and that with the
annual income of some big shot manager you could supply hundreds of
thousands of people with clean drinking water.

Regards
Mario

 
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23.05.2007 - 11:13: RE: RCA troubles | Citeren Citeren

Dear Mario,

This is where I like to have you. In a discussion concerning this development. I was invited to give a radio interview on the subject RCA. And I find it a difficult problem. You say plenty of money and water.
I found myself shocked as I refused to give beggars money during Christmas. Suddenly I was hit by the question : ‘what is the difference between me and the dispicable character Scrooge out of the Christmas Carol by Dickens’.
Then there were the many places where in the name of development they have drilled for clean water. Most of these don’t operate anymore because nobody knows – or cares – how to perform maintenance on these wells.
The EU has a budget of 10 million euro for a period of 5 years. They do nothing but throw it in the river. You ask Tanneguy and co. Novib, Oxfam, they all work the same. It is only the catholic church that really makes a difference. And not by pouring in money, but by being there. Thereby slowly beginning to spot the needs.
It takes years to dig in and understand what is needed. Yet I couldn’t get them to give me a clear answer on my questions. The EU people are there for four years. They have been there since the beginning of the EU and they never did any good. They must have poured in an incredible amount of money.
I think, there must be a wide discussion to come to a plan before we continue to pour in money. What do the needy need?
What are your thoughts on that?

Yours,

Hans

 
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23.05.2007 - 11:14: RE: RCA troubles | Citeren Citeren

Hi Hans

You are right about the money issue. Money alone does not solve the problems in 3rd World countries. But it is a basic requirement. The question is how effectively is that money used.
I believe that aid only works if you know the people and their society. You cannot just go and say this is what we are doing and this is how you have to deal with it. Things need to be done within the constraints of the local society, whether you agree with these constraints or not. Only slowly can some of the problem issues of this society be dealt with. First of all the local population needs to trust you and understand why you are doing what. This is a slow process and therefore the Catholic church is doing quite well apart from trying to convert people to a new belief, which I completely disagree with. But then again, this is not a perfect world because if it were we would not need to discuss this anyway. Of course there are other constraints such as infrastructure. People in Europe have no idea why it could take you a week to get to a place just 600 km away.
Aid organisations, whether governmental or NGO, have the problem of finding the right people with the right attitude and have them stay in a place for a long time. There are personal reasons for that but mainly there is a need for quick success stories which help them to raise new funds. Donors are judging the progress by their standards not having the slightest idea what it is like to work on the scene.
The other problem is that the bigger the organisation the bigger is the loss of funds due to administration needs. There is also lots of money going into fact-finding-tours which are only scratching on the surface. You cannot seriously expect that within 2 weeks someone can evaluate a situation and decide what needs to be done. You might end up sending tractors and agricultural tools or build highly technical water pumps in some remote area where there is no access to spare parts or qualified mechanics. The guy on his fact-finding-tour never thought about it because his organisation has paid big money to get him there quickly and easily, probably with an aeroplane.

I will try to come back to you with some more thoughts in the afternoon. There is a thunderstorm coming up and I would rather shut down the computer.

Regards
Mario

 
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23.05.2007 - 11:15: RE: RCA troubles | Citeren Citeren

Dear Mario,

First I heard some interesting notions from some catholics who had been around for a while. There is a lot of difference in wealth between African countries. Viewed from afar (Europe) they are all the same: poor. Viewed from within there are some marked differences.
They told me e.g. in Tsjad there is more wealth because there is more draught. There is no rain during three quarters of the year. This makes it necessary for them to think ahead or they will starve.
On the other hand there are Rwanda and Burundi. They can harvest the year around, but the country is so densely populated, there is starvation anyway. So again they have to put up their thinking caps to make their world go around.
The pyramid of Maslov tells us that – if you have food, safety and shelter you will want to exploit further. Invent things and such like. In our snug little RCA it didn’t work like that. Why not? The circumstances are favourable and they are around quite a bit longer than we are.
A couple of miles down the road – in good old Egypt – they did succeed in lighting the candle. Why? What happened in Egypt and why did it not happen in the RCA?

Otherwise I think our greatest goal in life is to be happy. What do you think?
If you agree with me, I wonder what you saw in the RCA? I saw a lot of unhappiness in Bangui, while I saw a lot of happiness in the interior. Bangui is the place where our civilisation has already penetrated somewhat.

Healthcare, clean water and education may seem to be above suspicion, but I doubt even that. I just don’t know what is needed.
What do you think?

Yours,

Hans

 
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23.05.2007 - 11:15: RE: RCA troubles | Citeren Citeren

Hi Hans

Sorry for not writing again yesterday.

You mentioned that there are differences in the different regions in Africa. There certainly are differences just as here in Europe. Different ethnic groups with different believes and different societies. This is what I meant with the problems that aid organisations have with not knowing exactly who they are dealing with. I do not know whether the problems in RCA are there because they used to be hunter-gatherers and the other peoples were pastorals or farmers. But I think that you do not have to know why they are way they are. All you really need to know and understand is the way they are.

You mentioned the unhappy people in Bangui. I think that this is a problem in towns even in Europe. Social contacts in towns are much harder to find than in rural areas. If you look at the people that come to our pub you will see that after work they have one or two specific places where they go to have a drink and they meet lots of others there who do the same. All the people know each other back from school or playing football or whatever. If you go in a pub in a town you will probably know only a few if any of the customers. There are so many possibilities to go to that people loose sight of one another. In our pub there is one big table and everyone is sitting around this one table. If you go somewhere in a town you will most likely be sitting somewhere on your own.
If you take that scenario to Bangui then it is the more obvious. There are no meeting places like there are in the villages. People in their villages will certainly have a big family around them all the time. They are usually taking care for one another. In Bangui they are on their own surrounded by lots of people that they have only recently met for the first time.

Then of course there is the dream of being able to lead a better life in a town and have work and earn money. For most this dream does not come true. If they do get a job they get paid nothing because there are hundreds of others willing to take the job for that salary.

I only gave money to the crippled people in Bangui. All the others I only paid for services. I remember I even once did not pay a guy who cleaned the car in front of the Grand Café because I told him that I had not asked for it. The next time I told him to clean the car and gave him money (more than usually). But I am sure that he got the point.
Emilie at the aeroclub asked me to get her the drinks from the market just up the road from the airport. When I did it I always drank a coke on the house. People do not value the things they get for free. One of the problems that aid organisations have created. Things were donated for free and people first of all got used to it and they did never value it properly.
I am sure that you are proud of your pilots licence. Would you be as proud if it had been given to you just like that or are you proud because you have worked hard for it and earned it?
One of the things that make you happy are achievements.

Regards
Mario

 
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01.06.2007 - 15:34: RE: RCA troubles | Citeren Citeren

Dear Mario,

Thanks for your thoughts and ideas. I have not al lot to add to that. I think we partially contributed to the problems, since we drew new borders. Thus creating new countries. Now the president is of one tribe and all the others suddenly must obey this randomly picked man out of a randomly picked tribe. I would – after eons of autonomous existence – rebel fiercely.
The CAR with four million people the size of France there is plenty of space for all to live their lives quietly and happily. There is no real need for unrest or unhappiness. It’s mostly artificially induced by – in the end – us. So we have perhaps an obligation to help the people. But do we contribute to their happiness or do we stumble as an elephant in a porcelain shop. Which NGO’s you think do a good job and which do a bad job.
What do you think should be done to repay our debt?

Have a nice weekend,

Hans

 
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