You might want to read today's post and the one regarding brainstorming from a few days ago. Thanks. :-)
June 17, 2010 at 10:58 AM
That you care enough to put this level of time in is a testament, if one was ever needed, that you and fellow aid bloggers here do not drink "haterade". I would like to say I'm impressed. This list is giant!
May 14, 2010 at 04:25 AM
Please add my blog post on this one:
I criticizes without vilifying. Also one thing I learned from this is that it's clear that the average Joe has no idea what good aid is. I'd be willing to participate in a project that helps people:
1. Determine what good aid is.
2. Find charities that provide good aid.
3. Engage with good aid charities with their own social networks.
Let's face it development aid can be like a blackhole with no one knowing if it's actually working.
May 12, 2010 at 11:03 AM
May 03, 2010 at 06:31 AM
I watched T-SHIRT TRAVELS this weekend. I want my hour back. I don't think I've ever watched a more misguided and questionable documentary, certainly not on PBS. Bloemen's grasp of economics is tenuous at best, and the most outrageous statements go unchecked throughout the film. She could have gotten the good points across in a 10-minute short.
Ian Turner |
May 03, 2010 at 06:02 AM
This film has been around awhile, but is relevant:
In T-SHIRT TRAVELS, Bloemen first travels to the Jersey shore, where she interviews Americans who donate their goods to various charities but have little idea that their former wardrobes end up in Africa. She talks to export agent Barney Lehrer from Brooklyn, who tells her that the Salvation Army doesn't even unpack most of the donated clothing but sells it to companies for export to third-world countries.
Strapped and packed in bales like hay, the companies who export the goods sell them to commercial dealers in Africa, who mark up the bales of clothing a whopping three to four hundred percent. These dealers in turn sell to Africans like Luka Mafo, a 19-year-old Zambian who sells secondhand clothing to support his mother, brothers, sisters and cousins, hoping he can help them to stay in school and graduate.
But Bloemen still wondered: Was it always this way? What happened to all of the Zambian clothing manufacturers? Mark O'Donnell, spokesperson for Zambian Manufacturers, explains that in 1991, when the country's markets were opened to free trade, container load after container load of used clothing began to arrive in Zambia, undercutting the cost of the domestic manufacturers and putting them out of business. The skills, the infrastructure and the capital of an entire industry are now virtually extinct, with not a single clothing manufacturer left in the country today.
Thanks, Saundra, for the links.
May 01, 2010 at 07:20 PM
Unfortunately, it's really easy to become a registered nonprofit in the USA. There are over 1.5 million charities with a new one registered every 10 - 15 minutes. The requirements to register vary by state but generally all that's needed is a governing board that meets at least once a year and to submit an annual 990 tax form. There is nothing requiring that the organization follow good aid practices.
There are some voluntary standards such as InterAction's Private Voluntary Organization Standards and The Colorado Nonprofit Association's Principles and Practices. Unfortunately, these are generally voluntary and there is no real monitoring of whether organizations follow these guidelines. Some state nonprofit societies are actively trying to educate new nonprofits, but whether the nonprofit chooses to learn is entirely up to them.
1millionshirts is an example of this. They are trying to register in Colorado, so theoretically they should be following these guidelines http://www.coloradononprofits.org/PandP/ A quick scan of the guidelines shows that 1millionshirts has not followed many of these guidelines including having a board member from the recipient community (until this whole thing blew up) or soliciting input from the community and getting a broad range of perspectives.
That's why I focus so much on donor education. If donors don't fund these charities they won't have the money to lead questionable projects.
May 01, 2010 at 11:02 AM
I wonder If it that easy in USA for anyone who simply come up with an idea of helping the 'needy' in africa or any where else for that matter and he/she is set to put his idea into action. Should not there be a proper mechanism in USA for managing all these private aid flows/projects/ideas?? My question is where goes the Parish Declaration on aids effectiveness???
Rehmat Yazdani |
May 01, 2010 at 10:52 AM
This is ridiculous.Even with all the litany of problems confronting the continent, posturing Africa to the rest of the world as an intractably hapless and piteous continent,inhabited by wretched paupers,ravaged by war,hunger and disease is very annoying.To say the least,Africa DO NOT necessarily need T-shirt nor Aid.Simply because the ... See Moreexploitative profit Shell BP,Chevron,TotalfinaElf,Uniliver,Nestile,S.C Johnson.Tuner Wright and several other multi-national companies are taking away from Africa is no where in comparism to T-shirts or the $50 billions worth of aid promised by G8 in the next decades. Rather what African need amongst other things are fair and balance trade,equity, technology transfer,returning of our stolen money stack in bank accounts in UK,US,Switzerland,France etc without much ado. Reparation for the ravages of the slave trade, followed by colonial rule and the exploitation of African land and resources, and the polution of our environment.T-shirts is not empowerment. Aid is not an engine of development, rather its impact is short term and sometimes it can be a barrier itself to economic development because of the attached strings.
Kalu Obasi |
May 01, 2010 at 05:53 AM
You are right, he does have an audience that could be really valuable. I do believe that many aid workers are planning to help steer him in a more productive direction. There have been many suggestions in the posts linked to above as to how he could have a positive impact.
Personally, I don't have any causes other than donor education. If he wants to start a campaign to help educate people on the problems with in-kind donation then I'd be happy to have that conversation with him.
I am contacted all the time by people wanting to make a difference. I donate my time to help provide them with advice, contacts, and resources. And I would do it for Jason as well if he approached me with the same respect he's demanding the aid world show him.
April 29, 2010 at 07:22 PM
When I first heard of Jason's idea. I cringed. Having just gotten back from Africa and heard merchants there squirm over the cheap goods that flood their markets so they can't feed their families made me sad that someone was going to further saturate the market with free stuff. So I asked Jason if he had a local partner and mentioned adding African merchants to his cause. Unless he was being disingenuous he seemed open to suggestions. Look I've worked in development too and I totally understand that the world doesn't need more imperialism in the masquerading as aid but apathy will kill more Africans than anything else and it seems we should off Jason our help not our hate. Why not ask Jason to link to some of your causes? The man def. has an audience I mean he wears tshirts for a living. Instead of criticisming him steer him in the right direction. The world is sick enough for us all to have a part in the healing.
April 29, 2010 at 04:45 PM
I have removed Evan's name from this post, thank you for bringing this to my attention.
Can I assume when you say "sarcastic and downright ignorant" you actually mean rude instead of unknowing?
April 29, 2010 at 01:12 PM
There is a public conference on this discussion tomorrow and I look forward to listening to the professionals. I do wish people would be more accurate in their research. Multiple people have said "Jason and Evan" and in no text on the 1MillionShirts website is Evan named. I'd appreciate some respect to the process of naming names and calling people out.
From the start all I've asked is that people show me respect and most of the comments I've received have been sarcastic and downright ignorant. Everyone says they want to get people to do the right kind of "good" yet when someone tries to do good and is willing to listen, but then people beat them down. Why would anyone try to do something if they see all of this content and a guy with genuine intentions get scrutiny instead of assistance?
I'm not like most people. I don't take criticism and give up. I'll keep pushing ahead to do something right.
Jason Sadler |
April 29, 2010 at 11:36 AM
I found 1 blog that did show support for 1 million shirts; albeit not from an aid worker.
I wanted to see if there was anyone out there who actually supported this campaign, and clearly outside of people with extra t-shirts lying around, there is not. So on one side of the argument is the entire aid community, and the other side of the argument is the entire apathetic western world who just wants their old junk to end up in a good place. Not much of a conversation.
April 28, 2010 at 03:52 PM
Sorry my mistake, will make sure credit is given where it's due. Thanks for catching it.
April 28, 2010 at 03:10 PM
The Aid Watch post wasn't me, I'm afraid - it was Laura Freschi. I did write two relevant posts, though
At Blood and Milk: http://bloodandmilk.org/?p=1592
and at UN Dispatch: http://undispatch.com/node/9832
April 28, 2010 at 02:30 PM
The shirt guys responded to my criticism of their project on Twitter inviting me to send a response as to why donating money would be better than T-shirts. Here is the e-mail I sent them.
In response to your tweet, I just wanted to share a few reasons why donating shirts might be a bad idea. I'm not an expert on T-shirt distribution in Africa but I do have 16 years experience working in international development, and my current work involves identifying and sharing good and bad practices in aid.
Donation of "Goods in Kind" i.e. where you give things rather than money is usually a bad idea in practice except in some very specific circumstances - so much so that USAID recently launched a communication campaign around this, give the large number of inappropriate and unwanted donations of goods to Haiti. I'm sure all the donations were well intentioned - but that isn't enough to be sure that they actually do good. For more information on this I'd recommend reading the excellent blog "Good Intentions are Not Enough" which has covered this topic in detail http://informationincontext.typepad.com/
I'll give three quick reasons why T-shirt donation is likely to be a bad idea
1. Logistics - collecting shipping and distributing T-shirts is likely to be extremely challenging and expensive and takes away time and money that could be better used. Unless you have a lot of experience in distributing clothes in Africa this is likely to be much, much more challenging than you would imagine. Trust me.
2. Need - Are T-shirts really what people need and can use? It's more likely that they can make better use of vaccination, clan water, bednets, opportunities to earn a decent living. Better to give people what they need/want rather than something you want to give them that they don't really need.
3. Markets - there are thriving markets for secondhand and for both production and distribution of new clothes in much of Africa, and these help support families. Introducing free T-shirts into these markets is likely to undermine local solutions, jobs and incomes - thus doing more harm than good.
These lessons have been seen over and over again in different contexts around the world, and even in the US post-Katrina. Please don't repeat them.
April 28, 2010 at 10:25 AM
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