Friday, October 15, 2010

"Is our Children learning?"

Shanta Devarajan interviews Rakesh Rajani from Sense Film Production on Vimeo.

I assume many of you by now have already read or learned about the Twaweza's report "Are our Children Learning?" released last month. Above is an excellent interview on this report given by Rakesh Rajani of "Twaweza" and conducted by the Chief Economist for Africa, World Bank, Shanta Devarajan.

Rakesh shares the sobering picture of quality of education in Tanzania despite the country dramatically increasing primary school enrollment and recently receiving an MDG award for the achievement.

Some key findings showing that all this "quantitative success is hollow":

  • About 20 percent of the children who had completed seven years of primary school could not read their own language, Kiswahili, at the Grade 2 level;
  • Half of them could not read English, which is the medium of instruction in secondary education;
  • And about 30 percent could not do a simple (Grade 2) multiplication problem.

So what do we do now? His suggestions:

1) We need to make sure money (budgetary allocation) reaches the schools.

2) A social compact with Teachers to improve their conditions in exchange for better results.

3) Reforming the education system to add more incentives that reward what matters eg cash on delivery.

Other key findings in the report can be read here.

What are your suggestions?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Essays From South Sudan

I happened to be in the midst of six months stint in South Sudan. I finally had a chance to write and reflect on this place.

The Rights of a Man
(By Thuwein Makamba)

A man wakes up in the morning, facing the daunting task of providing for his family; making sure there is food on the table for his children, and that the roof of his Tukul is not leaking when they go to sleep at night. The main means of income for this gentleman is subsidence farming, cultivating round potatoes (famously called Irish Potatoes here). His wife is making her contribution by buying and selling small items at the local market, with the little one on her back at all times. She has four children despite having been pregnant six times. Their three year old son, who has paralytic polio, is playing at home. His brother is four years old with a bloated stomach indicating some sort of malnutrition. Their sister, who is twelve, is the head of the family whenever her parents venture out to find a living. She cooks, feeds, and baths her siblings without ever complaining. In the evening, she is helping out with alcohol sales of the family business. She is also enrolled in nearby primary school in Standard four, but she is incapable of reading and performing basic math. There are not enough motivated teachers in her school, and her class takes place under the mango tree that makes it difficult to learn especially now that it’s the rainy season.

When malaria strikes, which seems to happen on regular basis, (I came down with malaria twice within my first two months here), the man takes his sick one to a nearby health center. This is usually a woman’s job, but on this occasion his wife is attending a funeral of the death of her newly born nephew who succumbed to neonatal tetanus. The health center, which is one structure with four different rooms, was constructed by an American NGO and has a big sign at the entrance that reads; “A Gift from The American People”. Although its only 10 am, the health center is closed. The man decides to wait, while his 3 year old is getting more lethargic. Around 11 am the health worker in charge shows up. He makes a point to let everybody know that he hasn’t received his salary since election time (March, 2010) and he also has a family to feed. The center was designed to have twelve health staff members, but he is the only one who showed up. As clinician in charge, he completed a nine month training that anointed him to be a competent healthcare provider in this village. He attended to the three year old with disregard to the highly promoted WHO’s IMCI guidelines, despite attending refresher training on IMCI provided by an NGO operating in this area. There is neither a microscope nor a microscopist here. A rapid diagnosis test is used; ParaCheck is the brand of choice—despite ample evidence of false positives from the Paracheck brand. the clinician doesn’t know any better. The three year old is diagnosed with malaria, and the man is compelled to ride his bicycle for three hours to buy his son malaria medications. The free medications at the health center arrived with only three months left on the expiration date. This is the place where they dump their drugs. A man then spends his hard earned 4 dollars and 42 cents to buy a dose of Switzerland imported Coartem. Hoping this time around his son’s malaria will never come back again. Hope is the only thing that he has going for him, he cannot afford to have that taken away.

This man, not knowingly— has been at the center stage of a global debate that has included Bono, Bill & Belinda Gates, Ban Ki Moon, and every other expert in between. He is the star of the blockbuster film called MDGs. This man has been a consistent force behind the recession proof of a billion dollar NGO industry. A lot of ground has been covered in the effort to reduce the burden of extreme poverty experienced by this man. But it is far from being enough and sustainable. The debate has been shifted from the needs of a man, towards how much money can be raised for this man. And the blame has been placed on those rich countries that do not commit enough money to help this man. The truest blame should be placed on those rich countries that implement policies that obstruct a man from improving his income. The very nature of life caters to those who are most adaptive to the conditions on the planet and these persons will prosper. That is why we have antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is a very normal process for poor people to suffer at unequal capacity, and die in unequal amounts compared to their “fittest” counterparts. For folks in the business of reducing the burden of extreme poverty experienced by the man, they need to understand that poverty elimination is rather an unnatural process. We are going against the norm, against the order of nature. However, through innovations, the right incentives, sacrifices, and a little bit of luck—mankind has been able to accomplish many unnatural feats. Reducing the burden of poverty is not impossible, but we have been employing dismal efforts that are unable to match the task at hand.

With the current global efforts, infant mortality rate is to be reduced and free education provided—but the man is not involved in how he can make those remarkable accomplishments sustainable. And that is through revenue generations to help paying the costs of these services. i.e an increased income. The current efforts are heavily directed towards lobbying rich countries to contribute more monetary aid. Instead, this energy should be placed on pressuring them to stop flooding poor countries with subsidized products that effectively destroy the local markets and drive a man further into poverty. OXFAM have reported that eliminating US cotton subsidies would improve the welfare of over one million West African households. But trade issues were barely mentioned in the MDG summit that just ended.

The debate in development assistance for health has been between programmatic vs. health system strengthening approach, but it doesn’t go far enough to speculate on the contribution of a man towards making either of those approaches sustainable. A man is to be given what is perceived to be his needs, and nothing more. The NGOs operating on the ground are obsessed with reporting indicators to the donors to showcase their remarkable performance; they almost forget that numbers are meaningless without the everlasting sustainable impact to this man. The recent obsession with achieving the MDGs (especially 4 and 5) has pushed noble professionals to come up with incredible innovations to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. From Conditional Cash Transfers, Voucher Schemes, and other demand induced interventions, these ideas are being experimented throughout the poverty arena. The notion that in response to the stimulated demand, the quality of health systems in the tropics will improve and sustain themselves at this high level is a fallacy. But the goal here is wrongly assigned towards achieving MDGs instead of equipping a man with the tools to create wealth for his family.

A man doesn’t need free healthcare, all a man wants is to work and provide for his family—the only thing he wishes to change is his income, which has to match the work he puts into. Unregulated globalization has placed a large barrier towards making this a reality. Today, more income is going to rich countries from the poor ones, and anti-poverty advocates continue to bring a knife into a gun fight. It is time to realize the momentous task ahead and coordinate the efforts accordingly.

I’m meeting up with a man at a local bar; we are watching a football game between Arsenal vs. Liverpool. We have paid 10 cents each to watch this game run on a Chinese imported generator, powered by imported Diesel from who knows where, on an expensive South African DSTV. Sipping his Coca Cola quietly, a devout Christian and an avid Liverpool fan; a man is truly a global citizen but the leaders of the globalized world have tied him with invisible chains that rendered it impossible for him and his family to get out of extreme poverty.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Why the revolution will not be tweeted" - Malcolm Gladwell

In a forthcoming publication for the Rockefeller Foundation, my colleague Edgar Masatu and I reflect on ICTs and Citizen Agency.

The soaring penetration of mobile communication devices around the world is having profound effects on access to information, business models in financial services, forms of social mobilization, and sources of innovation. We explore the ability of social media to serve as an “aggregation of voices from the bottom up,” and cite examples such as social media being credited with amplifying the mobilizing power of Thailand’s Red Shirt protestors and facilitating citizen journalists to “report” on the Chinese and Iranian authorities’ responses to recent street protests. Lawrence Haddad from the Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom predicted that driven by ICTs, “people power in development will move into a new age.”

But, should we believe the hype that ICTs may re-shape the relationship between the state and the citizen? Is the technology enhancing citizens’ participation in civic life or their ability to hold governments more accountable? Can social media change politics?

Malcolm Gladwell has a different perspective and does not think that social media is (or can be) an instrument of big change.The article is called ‘Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted” Here is one of his sentences in his inimitable style:
“...Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice. We are a long way from the lunch counters of Greensboro.”

Intrigued?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Development economics in historical context

UnderstandingSociety: Development economics in historical context

Hollis Chenery and T. N. Srinivasan published the Handbook of Development Economics in 1988. It was state-of-the-art in the late 1980s. It is interesting to look back at the Handbook twenty-two years later to see how it stands up today.

First, the contributors. The volume is a dream-team of development thinkers from the 1970s and 1980s: Amartya Sen, Arthur Lewis, Pranab Bardhan, Joseph Stiglitz, Peter Timmer, Nancy Birdsall, Paul Streeten, and Dwight Perkins, to name only a small subset of the authors. (There are 33 essays in volumes I and II.) Several currently important figures are not represented -- Arturo Escobar, Jeffrey Sachs, and Dani Rodrik, for example. Escobar's Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World appeared in 1994; Jeffrey Sachs's The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time didn't appear until 2005; and Dani Rodrik's One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions, and Economic Growth appeared in 2008. So it is certainly true that the field has moved forward with the emergence of new voices and perspectives since 1988. But it is also true that the volume represents a very deep body of knowledge about some of the dynamics and policy choices pertaining to economic development.

More important is the question of the range of perspectives on development represented in the volume. Development thinking has tended to swing from progressive to neo-liberal over the decades. Progressives have paid more attention to distribution, poverty, and social provisioning; whereas neo-liberals have focused on markets and "getting the prices right," with little appetite for redistribution, government subsidies, or serious efforts at poverty reduction. Gunnar Myrdal, Amartya Sen, and Arturo Escobar represent three generations of progressive development theorists; perhaps Peter Timmer, Malcolm Gillis, and Jeffrey Williamson fall closer to the neo-liberal end of the spectrum. I would judge that the Handbook does a pretty good job of finding the middle of the spectrum. Chenery's own emphasis on the importance of redistribution in development (Redistribution with Growth) places him closer to the progressive end, along with Pranab Bardhan, Irma Adelman, and Lance Taylor (each of whom has a contribution in the volume). The book pays attention to "alternative approaches" to economic development as well as poverty-related issues like health and nutrition. The book does a good job of combining a clear vision of the goals of economic development -- improvement of human welfare -- with technical economic analysis of growth, labor markets, and trade. And many of the authors explicitly recognize the point that development economics benefits from theoretical pluralism; the approach is not narrowly neo-classical.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hotuba ya Matokeo Kura ya Maoni


(Imeandikwa baada ya kuzungumzwa).

CCM Oyee! (Oyeee!)
CCM Oyee! (Oyeee!)
Bumbuli mpoo? (Tupoo!)

Nashukuru sana.

Sasa, nianze kwa kumshukuru Mwenyezi Mungu kwa rehema zake. Tupo tumefika hapa leo tulipo kwasababu ameamua iwe hivyo. Ametujalia uhai, uzima na afya kati yetu. Kwahiyo ni muhimu kumshukuru.

Pili, napenda kuwashukuru wazazi wangu kwa malezi mazuri, kwa mchango wao mkubwa kwenye maisha yangu mpaka nimefikia hapa nilipofikia leo. Pia familia yangu – mke wangu na wanangu wawili – bahati mbaya hawapo [hapa] – wamesafiri. Lakini nawashukuru kwa kunitunza, kwa kukubali kukabiliana na hizi presha za siasa, na kuniunga mkono na kuwa na mimi wakati wote.

Lakini vile vile namshukuru bosi wangu, Mheshimiwa Rais Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. Namshukuru kwa kunikubalia nimtoroke kidogo kazi na kuja kufanya huu mradi, na namshukuru kwa ushauri na malezi ya kisiasa aliyokuwa akinipa wakati wote.

Lakini sana sana, nawashukuru wana-CCM wa Bumbuli kwa kuniamini - kwa kuniamini kwa kiasi kikubwa namna hii kwa kunipa kura nyingi sana. Waswahili wanasema, “Imani huzaa imani”. Imani waliyonipa kwa kura wanizonipa ni kubwa sana. Tutasherehekea leo, lakini kesho tutakumbuka kwamba kura hizo ni…maana yake ni kwamba wanategemea mengi kutoka kwangu. Na mimi naahidi kwamba sitawaangusha. Nitaibeba bendera ya Chama chetu cha Mapinduzi, na kuipeperusha na kuinadi Ilani yetu kwa uwezo wangu wote, kwa maarifa yangu yote na vipaji vyangu vyote nilivyojaliwa na Mwenyezi Mungu. Na naamini kabisa kwamba Chama chetu kitapata mshindi mkubwa sana kwenye jimbo la Bumbuli.

Lakini pia ningependa kuwashukuru wenzangu - wagombea wenzangu tulioshiriki nao, kwa kuonyesha ustaarabu mkubwa. Tumevumiliana, tumeheshimiana kwenye mchakato mzima. Ndugu yangu Kaniki mmemuona mwenyewe ni kijana mzuri, amekomaa vizuri.

Mzee Shelukindo – naomba niseme machache kuhusu Mzee Shelukindo, bahati mbaya hayupo hapa. Lakini kuvunjika kwa koleo sio mwisho wa uhunzi. Leo wana-CCM wameamua… jana wameamua, kwamba mwingine apeperushe bendera ya Chama chao kwenye uchaguzi mkuu. Lakini heshma ya Mzee Shelukindo katika nchi yetu bado ipo pale pale (makofi). Kwa kushindwa kura hizi za maoni, haina maana kwamba heshima yake na rekodi yake ya utumishi imepotea kabisa. Hapana. Ni maamuzi ya wanachama. Binafsi nitaendelea kumuheshimu kama Mzee, lakini [pia] kama kiongozi wa muda mrefu kwenye Serikali. Ni hazina kubwa ya uzoefu kwenye jimbo letu, na bado ni mwanachama wa CCM. Na binafsi nitaenda kumuomba rasmi…hatujakutana tangu tumalize mchakato huu, lakini nitamtembelea nyumbani kwake kumuomba kwamba tusaidiane kikazi (makofi).

Lakini naomba niwashukuru wapiganaji wangu walionisaidia kunadi jina langu. Walionisaidia kuwashawishi wana-CCM wa Bumbuli kwamba mimi nafaa. Nawashukuru kwa kazi nzuri. Ushindi huu uliopatikana ni matunda ya kazi yenu. Lakini vile vile naomba niwaambie kwamba uchaguzi umekwisha jana. Mpambano umekwisha. Sasa hivi sote tunarudi kwenye hema la Chama chetu cha Mapinduzi. Sina uadui na Mzee Shelukindo. Sina uadui na Bwana Kaniki. Sina uadui na Mzee Mshihiri (makofi). Sina uadui na mtu yoyote aliyeshiriki kwenye mchakato huu.

Kwahiyo wapiganaji wangu, nawaomba sana sana sana tuache tambo. Tuache kutambiana. Uchaguzi umekwisha jana. Kazi ya kunipigania imeisha, tunaanza kazi ya kukipigania Chama chetu. Ndio kazi iliyo mbele yetu, na naomba tuifanye kwa umoja, tukishirikiana na wale ambao hawakuniunga mkono kwenye mchakato huu. Kwa nguvu ile ile ambayo mlinipigania mimi, naomba sasa nguvu hiyo muielekeze katika kukipigania Chama chetu kwenye uchaguzi mkuu wa mwezi Oktoba mwaka huu.

Naomba vile vile nitoe shukrani na pongezi zangu kwa uongozi wa Chama Wilaya, Katibu wa Wilaya na timu yake. Wilaya yetu ina majimbo matatu na kata 44. Zoezi hili ni zoezi kubwa, hasa kusimamia chaguzi za madiwani katika kata zote hizi. Ni kazi inayohitaji uwezo mkubwa, inahitaji rasilimani za uendeshaji na uwezo mkubwa wa kiutawala. Natambua kwamba zimejitokeza kasoro za hapa na pale, lakini naamini kwamba kasoro hizo zinatokana na upya wa mfumo wetu huu mzuri wa kurudisha demokrasia kwa wanachama kuchagua ni nani wawasimamishe kupeperusha bendera ya Chama kwenye uchaguzi wa wabunge na madiwani. Naamini kwamba matatizo yaliyojitokeza yatashughulikwa, na wakati ujao tutakuwa na utaratibu mzuri zaidi. Lakini vile vile naamini zaidi kwamba kasoro zilizojitokeza hazikumnyima mtu haki, na kwamba matokeo haya ya Bumbuli ni kielelezo halisi cha matakwa ya wanachama wa CCM wa Jimbo la Bumbuli.

Na mwisho, napenda kuwashukuru wote waliojitokeza hapa kunisikiliza, na nawatakia jioni njema. Nashukuru sana. (makofi)

January Makamba,
Agosti 2, 2010.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Compay Segundo

Compay Segundo is a legendary Cuban musician, who hit the word stage with his Chan Chan composition made famous by the film Buena Vista Social Club. With his distinct baritone and ubiquitous cigar and big hat, Compay, who was performing until the age of 96 when he died, became an icon. In these two numbers we hear Cuban music as it should be: sweet but still lively without the steroids they put in once it crosses to Miami.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rules vs. Norms

After the interruption of the Bumbuli announcement, we now return to our "regularly scheduled program".

Bill Easterly (you can see that I have been following him closely lately), perfectly elucidated a couple of ideas running through my head as I watched Ghana crash out of the World Cup tournament. The piece lay bare some of the conundrums of organising a functioning society. I rehash and summarise some of his arguments from one of his postings in his Aid Watch blog.

"Uruguayan player Luis Suarez illegally blocked a sure Ghana goal with his hands, a goal in the last seconds that would have won Ghana the game. He was ejected according to the rules and Ghana awarded a penalty kick, which they missed, and then Uruguay subsequently won.

Did Suarez cheat? One side would say Suarez realized his team would surely lose if he let the ball go past his hands and lawfully and rationally chose to take the penalty to give his team a chance; the other side says intentionally breaking the rule to prevent a loss was unforgivably unsportsmanlike.

One possible fix is to perfect the rules. If it pays to break the rules, they must be bad rules. The rule could be changed to give an automatic goal in this situation. However, it’s not that easy – it’s impossible to have perfect rules. (The “automatic goal” rule would have worked here, but general application would inevitably lead to new disputes about whether the ball would really have gone in.)

The other solution to imperfect rules is to supplement them with norms. With strong norms in business, a businessman who exploits a loophole to cheat another businessman will often find himself ostracized and will lose a lot of future business, so he doesn’t cheat. Norms can handle complex situations more flexibly than explicit rules, so they are an essential complement to rules.

Unfortunately for Ghana and for a lot of cheating victims in business, norms have to reflect a wide and deep consensus of what is right and a willingness to punish the cheater. If everyone agreed now that Suarez had cheated and will ever after see him as the equivalent of a thieving child-beater, then maybe he would not have used his hands in the first place. Unfortunately, as often happens in developing countries, neither the rules nor the norms were strong enough to prevent cheating and we are the worse for it."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Time Has Arrived!


Nimewaiteni kwa mambo mawili. Kwanza, kuzindua kitabu nilichokiandika. Pili, kuzungumzia uvumi na minong’no kwamba natarajia kugombea nafasi ya Ubunge wa Jimbo la Bumbuli.

Nianze na jambo la pili. Baada ya kutafakari kwa kina, na kuzungumza na wana-Bumbuli wenzangu, nimeamua niombe fursa ya kuwa sauti yao, kuwawakilisha na kuwasemea Bungeni, kuwatumikia na kushirikiana nao kusukuma mbele gurudumu la maendeleo ya Jimboni kwetu.

Nimesukumwa na mambo gani?

1. Kwa muda mrefu, nimekuwa na hamu kubwa sana ya kushiriki mijadala ya msingi inayohusu mustakabali wa nchi yetu, nimekuwa na hamu ya kutoa mawazo yangu binafsi na kuyaweka hadharani, kuyaboresha kupitia mijadala na utafiti, na kuyatumia kubadilisha hali za maisha ya watu wa kwetu. Nimeonelea kwamba nafasi ya Ubunge itanipa fursa hii.

2. Naamini kwamba, baada ya kufanya kazi kwa karibu na Rais Kikwete, naweza kuchukua mfano wake kuitumia siasa vizuri zaidi kuitumikia nchi yangu kwa namna pana zaidi. Naamini naweza kushirikiana na vijana wenzangu, wa CCM na wasio wa CCM, kuifanya siasa iwavutie vijana wengi zaidi na ionekane kama ni sehemu ya utumishi wa umma.

3. Asilimia 72 ya Watanzania wana umri wa chini ya miaka 29. Mwaka huu, vijana waliozaliwa mwaka 1992 watapiga kura. Letu ni taifa la vijana. Inabidi ifike mahali vijana sasa wajitokeze kwenye nafasi za uongozi ili sura ya uongozi wa nchi ifanane na hali halisi ya nchi. Tutakapojitokeza wachache na tukafanikiwa, hata vijana wadogo zetu nao watakuwa na hamu ya kufuatilia siasa na tutakuwa hatujawapoteza katika kujihusisha masuala ya nchi na wengine wengi nao watajitokeza kwasababu wataona inawezekana. Hata hivyo ujana peke yake sio sifa ya uongozi.

4. Naamini uzoefu wangu kama Msaidizi wa Rais, kwa kuzunguka na Rais nchi nzima mara mbili, wakati anaomba kura na baada ya kuchaguliwa, ambapo nimelazimika kusoma ripoti za maendeleo za Wilaya karibu zote, ambapo, kama Msaidizi wa Rais, nimehudhuria vikao vya Baraza la Mawaziri na Halmashauri Kuu ya Taifa ya CCM, pamoja na mikutano mingine mingi ya kimataifa na ndani ya nchi, utanisaidia sana kuwa Mbunge mzuri. Naingia kwenye siasa nikiwa nimejifunza mengi kuhusu Serikali na jinsi inavyofanya kazi, nikiwa nimejifunza jinsi baadhi ya maeneo nchini yalivyopiga hatua za maendeleo na mbinu gani wametumia na wale ambao bado hawajapiga hatua ni mambo gani hawajafanya. Nitatumia elimu hii na uzoefu huu kushirikiana na watu wa kwetu Bumbuli kusukuma maendeleo mbele.

Sasa, kutamani Ubunge ni jambo moja, lakini kudhamiria kuwa Mbunge mzuri ni jambo jingine. Nimedhamiria kuwa mtumishi mzuri wa wananchi. Na nimeamua kuufanya mchakato huu wa kuwania Ubunge uwe tofauti kidogo.

Nimefanya utafiti wa kina kuhusu jimbo la Bumbuli. Nimezunguka na kuzungumza na watu wa makundi mbalimbali, vijana , wazee, kina-mama, viongizi, watendaji na wafanyakazi wa Halmashauri ya Wilaya, walimu, viongozi wa vijiji na vitongoji. Nilitaka kujua matumaini yao, kero zao, karaha zao, na mambo yapi wanayatarajia kwa viongozi wao. Nilifanya semina ya siku mbili wa wana-Bumbuli karibu ishirini wanaowakilisha makundi mbalimbali, na tukazungumza kwa kina sana kuhusu masuala ya Bumbuli. Nilipata fursa ya kutazama kwa kina takwimu na taarifa mbalimbali zinazohusu maendeleo ya Jimbo. Nikafanya utafiti wa kina kuhusu dhana nzima ya maendeleo ya maeneo ya milimani. Matokeo ya yote haya ni hiki kitabu. Nimekiita Bumbuli: Jana, Leo na Kesho.

Nilidhani kwamba, kama mtu unaamua kugombea uongozi wa eneo fulani, na kama kweli una dhamira ya dhati ya kuleta mabadiliko kwenye eneo hilo, lazima ujiridhishe kama kweli unayajua mambo ya hapo mahali. Sio kuyajua tu juu juu kwa kuambiwa au kusikia. Uyajue kwa kina, kwa takwimu, na vielelezo na kwa kina. Huwezi kuzungumzia mabadiliko kama huna tarifa zote za kina kuhusu Jimbo lako. Hiki ndicho nilichofanya.

Kitabu nimekimegawanya katika sehemu tatu: Sehemu ya kwanza nimeiita Jana, ambapo tunaangalia historia ya Wasambaa na Usambara kwa ujumla. Historia na utamaduni vina nafasi kubwa kwenye mchakato wa maendeleo. Lazima tuyazingatie haya. Sehemu ya Pili, nimeiita Leo. Yaani Bumbuli ya leo ikoje? Changamoto ni zipi na fursa ni zipi. Na kwa kuzingatia hayo tunaanzaje. Sehemu ya tatu, nimeiita Kesho, ambapo sasa naelezea Bumbuli mpya inaweza kufananaje. Kitabu hiki kitakuwa na matoleo mawili: moja kwa lugha ya Kiswahili na jingine kwa lugha ya Kiingereza. Toleo la Kiswahili litatoka baada ya mwezi mmoja. Nimeamua kuandika kwa lugha ya Kiingereza pia kwasababu nadhani moja ya majukumu ya Mbunge ni kupanua wigo wa washirika wa maendeleo wa jimbo lako. Ningependa watu wengi muhimu na mashuhuri niliokutana nao wakati nasafiri na Rais nje ya nchi nao wapate kukisoma, na kutazama ni kwa namna gani wanaweza kusaidia.

Kwakuwa sasa sio wakati wa kampeni, sio vyema kutumia fursa hii kutoa ahadi ambazo zinaweza kutafsiriwa kama sehemu ya kampeni. Na kitabu hiki hakiongelei chochote kuhusu Ubunge wala Mbunge wala dhamira yangu ya kugombea. Kinatoa fursa kwa mtu yoyote - mwekezaji, mtalii, mtafiti na wengineo – kuifahamu vizuri Bumbuli.

Lakini kwa kuwa mimi nina dhamira ya kugombea Ubunge, nimetumia fursa ya kukiandika ili kujifunza, lakini pia nitakitumia kama mwongozo wangu.

Kwenye kitabu tunaona kwamba asilimia 90 ya wakati wa Bumbuli wanategemea kilimo. Hata hivyo, wakati Tanzania nzima wastani wa wakati kwa eneo ni watu 49 kwa kilomita moja ya mraba, Jimbo la Bumbuli wastani ni watu 309 kwa kilomita moja ya mraba, na wastani wa watu wanne wanalima katika hekta moja ya ardhi. Maana ya takwimu hizi ni kwamba watu wana vishamba vidogo sana, na uzalishaji ni mdogo na tija ni ndogo. Kwahiyo, ni muhimu kubadilisha hali hii. Nitashirikiana na wananchi kuhakikisha tunaongeza tija kwenye kilimo lakini vilevile tunajikita kwenye kuzalisha mazao yenye thamani kubwa zaidi, na kutafuta soko la maana la mazao ya wakulima.

Katika Wilaya ya Lushoto yenye majimbo matatu, zao la chai linalimwa kwenye Jimbo la Bumbuli pekee. Lakini ukiwatazama wakazi wa Bumbuli huwezi kujua kwamba wanalima zao lenye soko la dunia. Ukitazama kwenye kitabu nimejaribu kulinganisha kati ya mkulima wa chai Rungwe na yule wa Mponde, kule kwetu. Inasikitisha. Wastani wa bei ya majani mabichi ya chai kule Bumbuli ni shilingi 130 kwa kilo, wakati Rungwe ni karibu mara tano ya hiyo. Chai ni ile ile na mnada wa chai ni huo huo kule Mombasa. Wakulima wa chai Bumbuli wanatumia eneo kubwa zaidi kwa asilimia 40 kuliko wale wa Rungwe lakini tunazalisha kidogo zaidi – kwa tofauti ya kati ya kilo 200 hadi 330 za majani yaliyosindikwa kwa hekta. Utafiti wa mwaka 2008 unaonyesha kwamba asilimia karibu 20 ya mashamba ya chai yametelekezwa kwasababu wakulima hawaoni tena faida ya kulima chai. Nimeazimia kushirikiana na wananchi kupata ufumbuzi wa matatizo ya wakulima wa chai.

Tunaona kwamba huduma bado ni tatizo. Wakati wa mvua barabara nyingi hazipitiki na shughuli zinasimama. Watu wanashindwa kwenye kupekeka maiti kwa mazishi au kwenye kuhudhuria harusi au maulidi kwasababu barabara muhimu, kwa mfano ya Soni-Bumbuli, hazipitiki. Mbaya zaidi ni kwamba kule kwetu mvua ni karibu kila siku. Katika jimbo zima la Bumbuli hakuna hata tawi moja la Benki. Inawezekanaje mahali watu wanalima zao kubwa kama chai, wana biashara kubwa za mboga na matunda lakini hawana hata tawi moja la Benki. Matokeo yake ni kwamba hakuna mikopo, na hakuna huduma ya kuweka fedha. Hali hii lazima ibadilike. Lushoto nzima lipo tawi moja tu la Benki. Lakini ukiangalia mahesabu ya lile tawi, pesa zinazowekwa ni maradufu ya pesa zinazokopeshwa. Maana yake ni kwamba ile Benki iko pale kukomba pesa za eneo lile, eneo la watu ambao ni masikini, bila kutoa huduma za mikopo. Hili na lenyewe nitalitazama.

Kwenye elimu, bado ziko changamoto nyingi. Watoto wengi hawamalizi shule ya msingi. Mwaka huu, 2010, wanafunzi 1,286 hawakuingia darasa la saba kutokea darasa la sita, na kati hao, tofauti na sehemu nyingine nchini, wengi wao, karibu asilimia 71, ni wavulana. Lazima tumalize tatizo hili.

Serikali imejitajidi kujenga shule nyingi za Sekondari. Lakini bado mahitaji yapo. Hadi sasa, wanafunzi waliopo darasa la saba ni takriban 5,548. Kama wote wataingia kidato cha kwanza, yatatakiwa madarasa mapya karibu 160 na walimu wengi zaidi, jambo ambalo haliwezekani kwa muda uliopo. Lakini tukienda na mwenendo wa hali halisi, labda asilimia 8-10 ya wanafunzi hawa, yaani wanafunzi kati ya 450 hadi 550, ndio wataingia kidato cha kwanza, na nusu ya hawa ndio watamaliza sekondari. Je, hawa wengine wanaenda wapi? Nitakaa na wananchi wa Bumbuli na kuzungumza kwa kina kuhusu yote haya. Tunapaswa kuongeza shule za Sekondari na hata zile zilizopo zinapaswa kuimarishwa ili kuwa na hadhi na uwezo wa kutoa elimu bora. Katika Jimbo la Bumbuli hatuna shule hata moja ya kidato cha tano na sita. Hili tutalirekebisha.

Huduma ya afya na yenyewe bado haijawafikia wananchi wale kwa kiwango cha kuridhisha ingawa jitihada zimefanyika. Kwa kweli yapo mengi ambayo siwezi kuyamaliza kuyazungumzia yote. Lakini nimejiandaa vizuri. Nimefanya utafiti wa kina kuyajua matatizo ya Bumbuli, nimezungumza sana na watu wa Bumbuli, wazee kwa vijana, kina mama kwa watoto, wanyabiashara, viongozi wa dini, na viongozi wa vijiji na vitongoji, na wamenieleza mambo gani wanayatarajia, na mimi nimejiandaa kushirikiana nao kuyafanikisha.

Nawashukuru kwa kunisikiliza

January Makamba
5 Julai 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wise or Wacky?

In the 1990s, Paul Romer revolutionized economics. In the aughts, he became rich as a software entrepreneur. Now he’s trying to help the poorest countries grow rich—by convincing them to establish foreign-run “charter cities” within their borders. Romer’s idea is unconventional, even neo-colonial—the best analogy is Britain’s historic lease of Hong Kong. And against all odds, he just might make it happen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Items allowed through Israel Blockade of Gaza Strip

The blockade goes further than containing Hamas, but innocent civilians are the ones who are paying the massive price.

Through the The Economist

Monday, May 24, 2010

TEDxDar 2010: A Huge Success

The first Tanzanian independently organized TED event (dubbed TEDxDar) took place in Dar es Salaam over the past weekend, with a live online simulcast. The conference centered around 3 main themes for discussion: "What would Nyerere Do?", "Hadithi Zetu" (Our Stories) and "The In-Between Place"

Various bloggers attended the event and gave their take on what took place. Mikocheni Report and Shurufu did a comprehensive live-blogging of the event, while Majibu and Swahili Street provided an overview.

Maya Wegerif, one of the speakers, posted the explosive poem she delivered at the event, titled "Who tells our stories?" The entire list of speakers can be found on the event website or event program (pdf).

Congratulations to the TEDxDar team for a successful event and we look forward to see videos of all presentations at the event.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

End of Ghetto

When Barack Obama was elected US President, many blacks, rightly or wrongly, saw the ushering of a new era - in which Ghetto and its life will be banished. Recently, I was listening to my old recordings of 2Pac Shakur's, and this one struck me. I thought: can Pac's ghetto be banished in these Obama years? Follow the song and its lyrics. Great and surreal production.

Major! Hell motherfuckin yeah
This one goes out to my nigga Mike Coolin, hell yeah
Mama raised a hellrazor... born thuggin
Heartless and mean, muggin at sixteen
On the scene watchin fiends buggin
Kickin up dust with the older G's
Soakin up the game that was told to me
I ain't never touched a gat that I couldn't shoot, I learned
not to trust the bitch from the prostitutes, was taught lessons
A young nigga askin questions while other suckers was guessin
I was ganked for sexin'
Elementary wasn't meant for me, can't regret it
I'm headed for the penitentiary, I'm cuttin class
and I'm buckin blastin, straight mashin'
Mobbin through the overpass laughin'
While these other motherfuckers try to figure out, no doubt
They jealous of a nigga's clout, tell me Lord
Can ya feel me? I keep my finger in the trigger
Cause some nigga tried to kill me
and mama raised a hellraizor, everyday gettin paid
Police on my pager, straight stressin
A fugitive my occupation is under question
Wanted for investigation, and even though
I'm marked for death, I'ma spark til I lose my breath
Motherfuckers, every time I see the paper
I see my picture, when a nigga's gettin richer
They come to get ya, it's like a motherfuckin trap
And they wonder why it's hard bein' black
Dear Lord can ya feel me, gettin major, unhh

Chorus: Stretch
Mama raised a hellrazor, stress gettin major
Lord be my savior, unnh
(Repeat 4X)

Mama raised a hellrazor

[2Pac] Dear Lord can ya feel me
Stress gettin major, unnh
Mama raised a hellrazor, stress gettin major
Tell me Lord can ya feel me, show a sign
Damn near running outta time, everybody's dyin
Mama raised a hellrazor, can't figure
Why you let the police beat down niggaz
I'm startin to think all the rich in the world is safe
While the poor babies restin in the early graves
God come save the youth
Ain't nothin else to do but have faith in you
Dear Lord I live the life of a Thug, hope you understand
Forgive me for my mistakes, I gotta play my hand
And my hand's on the sixteen-shot, semi-automatic
crooked cop killin Glock, tell me Lord
Can ya feel me? Show a way
I'm prayin but my enemies won't go away
And everywhere I turn I see niggaz burn
Every nigga that I know's on death row
My younger homie's seventeen and he paid a price
Little young motherfucker doin triple life
Though I tell him in his letters, it's gettin better
If my nigga knew the truth he'd hit the roof
Just heard ya baby's mama was smoked out, fuck the drama
Wanna break my Loc out, smokin blunts
Gettin drunk off that Tanqueray gin
Bout to break my nigga out the fuckin pen
Mama raised a hellrazor, uhh, yeah
C'mon, uhh, mama raised a hellrazor
Uhh, dear Lord can ya feel me, stress gettin major
(Lord be my savior, unnh)

Chorus: Stretch
Mama raised a hellrazor, stress gettin major
Lord be my savior, unhh
(repeat 2X)

Mama raised a hellrazor, stress gettin major

Dear Lord can ya hear me, it's just me
A young nigga tryin to make it on these rough streets
I'm on my knees beggin please come and SAVE ME
THE WHOLE WORLD done made a nigga crazy!
I got my .357 can't control it
Screamin die motherfucker and he's loaded
Everybody run for cover, I cause shit
Thug Life motherfucker, duck quick
Now am I wrong if I am don't worry me
Cause do or die gettin high til the bury me
Dear Lord if ya hear me, tell me why
Little girl like LaTasha, had to die
She never got to see the bullet, just heard the shot
Her little body couldn't take it, it shook and dropped
And when I saw it on the news I see busta girl killin 'Tasha
Now I'm screamin fuck the world, in the end
it's my friends, that flip-flop
Lip-locked on my dick when my shit drop
Thug Life motherfucker I lick shots
Every nigga on my block dropped two cops
Dear Lord can ya hear me, when I die
Let a nigga be strapped, fucked up, and high
with my hands on the trugger, Thug nigga
Stressin like a motherfuckin drug dealer
And even in the darkest nights, I'm a Thug for Life
I got the heart to fight now
Mama raised a hellraiser why cry
That's just life in the ghetto, Do or Die!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Naants' Indod'Emnyama

In the struggle against apartheid, Nelson Mandela defines the courage and bravery - willing to die for a just cause; and healing and reconciliation - willing to forgive those who took away his freedom and dignity for 27 years. But, there were other heroes who never saw 1994. The one that moves me the most is Vuyisile Mini. Born in 1920, he was an activist, a singer and a songwriter. In early 1960s, he composed Naants' Indod'Emnyama a Xhosa phrase for a threat: "Here Comes Black People". The song became an anthem for a struggle. In its popular rendition, the chorus Verwoerd Pasopa or Beware Verwoerd was added (Henrik Verwoerd was the architect of apartheid policy). So, basically the song was an irritating, boisterous, repetitive chorus saying: "Beware Verwoerd, Here Comes Black People". The song irritated the white establishment so much because it was so popular and so powerful that they found reasons to jail Vuyisile Mini. Mini, in his bass voice, used to sing it in meetings and rallies to arouse the passion of black people who would march stomping their feet. Later, the police found charges in his militant activities and the courts gave him death sentence.

In October 1964, he made the following statement from the death row:

"I am presently awaiting execution at Pretoria Central Gaol having been sentenced to death at the beginning of the year. On October 2, 1964, Captain Geldenhuys and two other policemen came to see me. They asked me if I had been informed that my appeal had been dismissed. I told them I was not interested to know from them what my advocate said. They then said there was still a chance for me to be saved, as they knew I was the big boss of the movement in the Eastern Cape. I must just tell them where the detonators and revolvers were, and they would help me. I refused. They then asked me about Wilton Mkwayi [subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment]. They said I saw Mkwayi in January 1963. I said `Yes.' They asked me if I was prepared to give evidence against Mkwayi whom they had now arrested. I said `No, I was not.' They said there was a good chance for them to save me from the gallows if I was prepared to assist them. I refused to assist. When they asked would I make the Amandla Ngawethu [‘Power is ours'] salute when I walked the last few paces to the gallows, I said, `Yes'. After a few more jokes of that nature, they left.

On 6 November 1964, Mini, together with Wilson Khayinga and Zinakile Mkaba were hanged in the Pretoria Central Prison. Story goes that Mini walked down the hallowed prison corridor towards the hanger's noose singing "Naants' Indod'Emnyama Pasipo Verwoerd". The next day, one of black prisoners who was facing a normal sentence sent the following entry for the official ANC journal:

"The last evening was devastatingly sad as the heroic occupants of the death cells communicated to the prison in gentle melancholy song that their end was near... It was late at night when the singing ceased, and the prison fell into uneasy silence. I was already awake when the singing began again in the early morning. Once again the excruciatingly beautiful music floated through the barred windows, echoing round the brick exercise yard, losing itself in the vast prison yards.

And then, unexpectedly, the voice of Vuyisile Mini came roaring down the hushed passages. Evidently standing on a stool, with his face reaching up to a barred vent in his cell, his unmistakable bass voice was enunciating his final message in Xhosa to the world he was leaving. In a voice charged with emotion but stubbornly defiant he spoke of the struggle waged by the African National Congress and of his absolute conviction of the victory to come. And then it was Khayinga's turn, followed by Mkaba, as they too defied all prison rules to shout out their valedictions. Soon after, I heard the door of their cell being opened. Murmuring voices reached my straining ears, and then the three martyrs broke into a final poignant melody which seemed to fill the whole prison with sound and then gradually faded away into the distant depths of the condemned section.

Now, you can listen Mariam Makeba's rendition of Naants' Indod'Emnyama - and imagine it sung with baritone voice of a black man stomping his feet, with pride and defiance, on his way to confronting death. May the Lord Rest His Soul in Peace.

The Math of Breaking Up

From Most people know love takes work, and effort is needed to sustain a happy relationship over the long term, but now a mathematician in Spain has for the first time explained it mathematically by developing a dynamical mathematical model based on the second law of thermodynamics to model "sentimental dynamics." The results are consistent with sociological data on marriage breakdowns.

The model produces a plausible scenario, through a sequence of effort inattentions, for the deterioration of a relationship in a gradual form, which seems to be typical according to data. Because of the effort gap, there is a tendency to lower the right effort level. Then the intrinsic instability of sentimental dynamics obeying the second law causes the piecewise decaying trajectories to move further and further away from the target trajectory and eventually to cross the threshold level xmin. This is considered a point of pre-rupture, since it is a matter of time before effort is abandoned.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back to Basics

Corruption: lack of integrity or honesty; use of a position of trust for dishonest gain

Monday, May 17, 2010

What went down in Rwanda before 1994?

I ran into excerpts of this book, and it has some fine, well researched observations on the Rwanda Genocide contrary to the public opinions.


To accept the standard model of “The Genocide,” one must ignore the large-scale killing and ethnic cleansing of Hutus by the RPF long before the April-July 1994 period, which began when Ugandan forces invaded Rwanda under President (and dictator) Yoweri Museveni on October 1, 1990. At its inception, the RPF was a wing of the Ugandan army, the RPF’s leader, Paul Kagame, having served as director of Ugandan military intelligence in the 1980s. The Ugandan invasion and resultant combat were not a “civil war,” but rather a clear case of aggression. However, the invasion led to no reprimand or cessation of support by the United States or Britain—and, in contrast to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait just two months before, which was countered in the Security Council by a same-day demand that Iraq withdraw its forces immediately—the Council took no action on the Ugandan invasion of Rwanda until March 1993. It did not even authorize an observer mission (UNOMUR) until late June 1993, the RPF by then having occupied much of northern Rwanda and driven out several hundred thousand Hutu farmers.


Paul Kagame and the RPF were creatures of U.S. power from their origins in Uganda in the 1980s. Allan Stam, a Rwanda scholar who once served with the U.S. Army Special Forces, notes that Kagame “had spent some time at Fort Leavenworth…not too far before the 1994 genocide.” Fort Leavenworth is the U.S. Army’s “commander general staff college…where rising stars of the U.S. military and other places go to get training as they are on track to become generals. The training that they get there is on planning large scale operations. It’s not planning small-scale logistic things. It’s not tactics. It’s about how do you plan an invasion. And apparently [Kagame] did very well.”

By 1994, Kagame’s RPF possessed, in addition to the necessary manpower and material, a sophisticated plan for seizing power in Rwanda that, in its final execution, Stam says, “looks staggeringly like the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 1991.” Stam adds that the RPF launched its final assault on the Rwandan government almost immediately after the assassination of Habyarimana, within 60 to 120 minutes of the shooting-down of his jet, with “50,000 [RPF] soldiers mov[ing] into action on two fronts, in a coordinated fashion”—clearly “a plan that was not worked out on the back of an envelope

More excerpts

Very big lies about Rwanda are now institutionalized and are part of the common (mis)understanding in the West. In reality, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame is one of the great mass murderers of our time, far surpassing Uganda’s former dictator Idi Amin.41 Yet, thanks to the remarkable myth structure that surrounds him, he enjoys immense popularity with his chief patron in Washington, his image of big-time killer transmuted into that of an honored savior, deserving strong Western support. Philip Gourevitch, one of Kagame’s prime apologists for many years, portrays him as an emancipator, a “man of action with an acute human and political intelligence,” who “made things happen.” He also compares Kagame to “another famously tall and skinny civil warrior, Abraham Lincoln.”42 A more recent hagiography by Stephen Kinzer portrays Kagame as the founding father of a New Africa, “one of the most amazing untold stories of the modern history of revolution,” as Kinzer explains it, because Kagame overthrew a dictatorship, stopped a genocide, and turned Rwanda into “one of the great stars” of the continent, with Western investment and favorable PR flowing.43 In fact, what Kagame overthrew was a multiethnic, power-sharing, coalition government; what Kagame imposed was a Tutsi-dominated dictatorship; and what Kagame turned Rwanda and the whole of Central Africa into was a rolling genocide that is ongoing. But it is true that he is a shining “star” in the Western firmament and its propaganda system

One more

The Pentagon has very actively supported these invasions of the DRC, even more heavily than it supported the RPF’s drive to take Kigali. This support led to the killing of many thousands of Hutu refugees in a series of mass slaughters (ca. 1994-1997), and also provided cover for a greater series of Kagame-Museveni assaults on the DRC that have destabilized life in this large country of perhaps sixty million people, with millions perishing in the process.56 In his letter of resignation to Chief Prosecutor Hassan Jallow, Filip Rentjens, a Dutch academic and one-time expert witness before the ICTR, took issue with the “impunity” that protects the RPF leadership from prosecution. “[RPF] crimes fall squarely within the mandate of the ICTR,” he wrote. “[T]hey are well documented, testimonial and material proof is available, and the identity of the RPF suspects is known….It is precisely because the regime in Kigali has been given a sense of impunity that, during the years following 1994, it has committed massive internationally recognized crimes in both Rwanda and the DRC

The rest of excerpts are here

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What is the role of government?

There is always ambiguity on a truer role of a government. Most of the disagreements are ideological, but practically, what is the role of an effective government? The governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer whose state is among only two in US running budget surplus on his take on a role of a government.

The tea party people get up in the morning and they make phone calls to each other that they‘re going to go to a rally. And they use a subsidized telephone system. Then they drive down a road that was built by the government that is protected by government workers called highway patrolmen.
They get to a rally and they carry their signs and they are protected by the firemen and the policemen who are in that town. And then they eagerly drive home and say, “It was a success". We‘re against the government.

So you have got to have government that works. In Montana, we‘re one of the two states that have a surplus. We have $400 million in the bank. But I‘m still challenging expenses. I‘m not cutting government. We‘re challenging expenses of government, the same way a small businesses and some big businesses all over the country are. It‘s not a sin to be frugal. It‘s not a sin to challenge expenses. But it is a sin to cut back on education for our most valuableresource. And when we‘re expected to keep people in prison, we should keep them in prison. Don‘t turn them loose because, well, you‘ve got a bad budget. That‘s government that doesn‘t work.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Social experiments to fight poverty

A good talk by this brilliant economist. She is basically using good old randomized trials to provide ground evidence for social policies.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another Quiet Epidemic in Tanzania

There is unnoticed epidemic of diabetes creeping up in Tanzania as well as in other low income countries. Few practitioners in Dar have cautiously voiced their grave concerns in this new epidemiological trend. Kwamba, eventually we will have to address the growing morbidity and mortality rates of chronic non-infectious diseases. Of which our health systems have been understandably ignoring because of the burden of infectious diseases. I have been trying to figure out what has happened that wabongo are getting diabetes in high numbers. It is important to figure this out right away because chronic diseases are expensive to manage, and prevention is always the best approach. Besides, our healthcare system is so crippled that once this Diabetes thing has caught full steam, we are toast.

I have noticed that 1)we consume a lot of sugar, baiskeli za Azam Ice-Cream zipo kila kona, and they are dirt cheap. Na joto hili la bongo, it makes sense for people to go overboard on sugar. Same as soda, na juice baridi, which are available kwenye kila kona ya nchi. 2) There is are link between TB and Diabetes—kwamba if you are infected with TB (not necessarily diseased) it changes carbohydrates mechanism and lead to impaired glucose tolerance. Essentially, having infected with TB, it increases your risk of getting diabetes. This is an interesting finding because Bongo is a TB endemic country, and chances are majority of us are infected with TB (Latent TB). I’m sure most of us have positive Mantoux test, I know I am. It makes sense that as we consume so much sugar and majority of us have the TB infection, diabetes epidemic is inevitable.

Moving forward, MOH has to start a countrywide surveillance on new and old Diabetes cases, so as we can have the data ready for future studies. And initiating bottom-up community awareness campaign on diabetes, people have to understand the implications of going overboard on sugar especially, when they are already at risk. Obviously there are other risks for Diabetes that will also have to be addressed as well, but it has to start now, because we simply cannot afford another epidemic.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The economic incentive of a dala dala driver.

The Drivers of the dala dalas in Dar have only one incentive; to make more than TZS 100,000.00 a day. Yes, that is the sum total a dala dala driver is required to bring to his boss - the owner of the those ubiquitous little traveling machines. Anything earned above that amount goes first towards fuel and then the remainder is split with the conductor.  This TZS 100,000 offers a strange incentive for the rest of us on the road.  The dala dala driver knows he must hand over that bottom line figure each day in order for him to keep his job.  So to him nothing else matters, regardless of the consequences he will always race, slow down, over take or block other cars in order for him (and always a male) to get the next passenger, or in his mind the next opportunity to top off that TZS 100,000 for his own income.   But please do not start pointing the finger to the bus drivers alone in the city.  This behavior is aided by two other economic agents: the bus owner and the traffic police.

The bus owner is in business to make money.  So he also does not care what may come.  He is not concerned with his drivers following road safety, navigating treacherous, rain-soaked streets, or even letting a pedestrian cross at the cross-walk. For the bus owner, what matters most is that TZS 100,000.00 a day.  A dala dala driver might suffer if he does not deliver that bottom line amount, but he will never get in trouble from the owner if he fails to follow driving laws.  It’s an incentive that, in fact, encourages the driver to be egregiously inconsiderate to wellbeing of others on the road. 

As incongruous as it sounds, the traffic police (the very people whose job it is to keep drivers protected and traffic safe) are utterly corrupt.  That corruption provides a sense of security only to the dala dala drivers, who know that they can bribe their way out of any situation. Safe in the knowledge that there is no need to follow traffic laws, they can be as maniacal as they want on the road, all in the name of topping off that TZS 100,000. In fact, the traffic police have reached such an extreme level of corruption that their bosses saw the need to outsource their job!  They brought in the Majembe Auction Mart to put a noose on the dala dala driver’s head. Unfortunately, that outsourcing did not pay off.  The incentive of the Majembe is not safety or an orderly transportation system, but to arrest as many of the death vehicles as possible so they can get paid.

The result of the above scenario is a serious assault on a precious public good – road safety.

As I am writing this more people are being killed on the road because dala dalas, large trucks, bajajes, and taxi drivers know no boundaries in their pursuit of a little profit.  A study published by the East African News Paper in March ranked Tanzania as the second highest in East and Central Africa for deaths caused by road accidents.

The problem of having a transportation system where buses are run by individual owners is that their incentives and those of their agents will never align with the needs of public safety. Safety requires players to sacrifice a small piece of their profit for the greater good?  Is that possible when one individual’s bottom line is the only incentive?  Is there a way to avoid buses overtaking each other on a single lane road just to get another TZS 500 first?  Is there a way to avoid buses stopping traffic to pick a passenger in the middle of the street rather than the official bus stops?  Is there a way to prevent the disregard for others on the road when the only incentive is individual profit?

That is why developed societies always have bus companies provide service to the city dwellers. Under the system of a bus company, it does not matter which bus picked up a particular passenger because all drivers are motivated to serve the same owner – the shareholder.  Consistent and adequate salaries further encourage drivers to focus on safety rather than mad dashes for profit.  With a bus company, the incentive is to remain safe so that the company can have as many passengers as possible.

The new Dar es Salaam bus system, DART, has been in planning for the last five years, waiting to replace the defunct UDA. Every time a new report comes out to explain reasons for its delay, it is so cumbersome it reminds you of Andy Cap and the drinking gang.  If these death machines are running for decades now they must be profitable to the owners. Why not just force the same owners to form a company and list it in the stock exchange. Furthermore, the government could issue bonds through a municipality to increase the capital of the company. That way there would be ample funds to modernize the system. These bonds could be paid back using ticket money and renting out vital “moving” space to the advertisers. If the fairy godfather (i.e. world bank) wants to help, they can help. They can go to the market and buy some of those shares!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Africa-China Relationship

Recently China has anted up her investments in Africa, and it has opened up a great debate among folks who are interested in these issues. This months Atlantic magazine has a very balanced read on Chinese investment in Africa that is worthy of checking it out.

Some excerpts

The problem is to determine what is Africa’s place in the future of the global economy, and up to now, we have seen very little that is new. China is taking the place of the West: they take our raw materials and they sell finished goods to the world What Africans are getting in exchange, whether it is roads or schools or finished goods, doesn’t really matter. We remain under the same old schema: our cobalt goes off to China in the form of dusty ore and returns here in the form of expensive batteries

But also
“Statistics are hard to come by, but China is probably the biggest single investor in Africa,” said Martyn Davies, the director of the China Africa Network at the University of Pretoria. “They are the biggest builders of infrastructure. They are the biggest lenders to Africa, and China-Africa trade has just pushed past $100 billion annually.”

Davies calls the Chinese boom “a phenomenal success story for Africa,” and sees it continuing indefinitely. “Africa is the source of at least one-third of the world’s commodities”—commodities China will need, as its manufacturing economy continues to grow—“and once you’ve understood that, you understand China’s determination to build roads, ports, and railroads all over Africa.”

Everywhere I traveled in Africa, people spoke in defense of conditionality—the attachment of good-governance strings to loans from the West. “Many people look at Western conditions as a good thing, because nowadays so many things can be discussed openly, unlike the past—like corruption, for example,” said John Kulekana, a veteran Tanzanian journalist. “There are no more demigods here, and that is because of the growth of civil society, which has received lots of help from the West. Former ministers are called to account for their behavior. We are building accountability.”

The fact that China model of developing Africa neglect accountability from local government is troubling, because only with a strong government real development can be achieved. Westerners imposing conditions on loans (apart from lending to Mobutu) is an attempt to improve governance that Chinese seems not to care much about

Few Zambians have been lifted into the middle class by Chinese mining activity, and today, Sata remains unrelenting in his criticisms of China. “Our [Chinese] friends are too numerous, and we know their resources cannot sustain them,” Sata told me in his Lusaka office, taking phone calls from constituents and filling out a lottery card as he reeled off a catalog of reproaches. “Zambians do not need labor being dumped here. The Chinese are scattering all over the world, but there is no such thing as Chinese investment, as such. What we’re seeing is Chinese parastatals and government interests, and they are corrupting our leaders.”

“The idea that big influxes of wealth will help Africa has never really panned out,” Patrick Keenan, an Africa specialist at the University of Illinois, told me. “When the path to wealth goes through the presidential palace, there are enormous incentives to obtaining power and to holding on to it. This kind of wealth incites politicians to create economically wasteful projects, and it relieves them of the need to make politically difficult choices, like broadening the tax base.”

I welcome Chinese approach in investing in Africa, but it has to be done in ways that do not deviate from simple rules of economics. Building schools, and roads are noble things, but who is going to teach the kids and how are the roads going to be maintained in the future? The noble way will be to transfer knowledge to local people, so as they can sustain themselves. China's way is to have their own firms and their own workers doing the work. And the worst part is they take raw materials (not refined products) to their country for further processing. This is the same process that took place in Africa during colonialism.

What do you guys think about this?

The whole article is here

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ani DiFranco

I saw her performing about ten years ago and fell in love with her. She is cool, down-to-earth, a feminist icon for many young women (in America). Her lyrics are sophisticated, her voice unique, her fingers versatile on strings. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Of Juju and the Books...

Pew Research Centre, a reputable opinion research outfit, has released one of the detailed surveys so far on Africans attitudes towards religion and morality. The survey reveals some very interesting facts about Africans, and Tanzanians in particular.

93 percent of Tanzanians believe in witchcraft, making us leaders in Africa in this sphere (we beat the Congolese and the Nigerians) and 80 percent of Tanzanians say that Western film, music and television is hurting morality in society. More poignantly, 62 percent of Christians believe Jesus will return during their lifetime.

I trust Pew Centre, but I am skeptical about the 93 percent. There is a distinction between "belief" in witchcraft and "practice" in witchcraft. It may be true that 93 of Tanzanians believe that witchcraft exist, but without necessarily subscribing to it or seeking its magic. Still, these numbers cannot be without significance to society.

The entire research publication can be found at

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kumbe, the basis of all computing (binary code) is Africa!

This is one of the most interesting talks I have seen on the web. Its worth watching if you are interested in mathematics and culture and Africa.

Making Democracy Work

A few years ago, I read a book called Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy by Robert Putnam (also author of the famed Bowling Alone). The book is more or less a compendium of an in-depth research on the performance of regional governments in Italy (after devolution reforms in 1968) undertaken over a period of 20 years.

With sweeping effort, patience, exercise in cultural immersion, and some useful data, Putnam undertook to study why regional governments of similar structure and resources performed much better in northern Italy (a much developed part of Italy - "a real Europe") than in Southern Italy (less developed part of Italy - "almost like Africa").

While I disagree with some of the conclusions, I have come to appreciate the findings of the research in recent years as I reflect more and more about society and our [individual and collective] roles in advancing it.

Putnam and his partners conclude that [government] institutions, however perfectly designed, cannot work if people are disengaged from the society. There has to be civil society first (in a real, not "HakiElimu" or "TAMWA", sense) before there can be effective government (as opposed to the current fashion/thinking advanced by donors of "creating a civil society" out of some bright and smooth-talking people to "contend with" governments particularly in developing countries). Civil society has to emerge organically from voluntary social interactions and networks in the society. Social capital need to exist before people can place trust and cooperate with Leviathan.

The bottom line is that norms, trust and networks engender a society which eventually lead to an effective government. Socio-economic development or transformation cannot take place if the level of "civicness" in the society is low. At one point in the book, Putnam argues that "economics does not predict civics, but civics does predict economics, better than economics itself."

I revisit the book in the context of another survey in Tanzania, the 2007 Poverty and Human Development Report, conducted by as part of MKUKUTA progress monitoring process, which found that 78 percent of Tanzanians do not trust each other. Yes, 78 percent. If, as it is, trust is central to the functioning of market economy, how do we move forward with these numbers? If Big Bang democratisation - demonstrated partly by donors' obsession with creating "a contentious" political environment by, for instance, paying to advance strong labour unions, vocal media, and so on, a civil society by checkbook, if you will - does not consider the nourishment of a sense of civic community which ought to be a centerpiece of progress.

Perhaps we must not accept Putnam's ideas at face value. May be his ideas on democracy and progress are too Tocquevillean, that civic virtues are preeminent in our countries, and that the under-perfomance of government is simply a managerial issue.

Rochereau, Mbilia and Faya

Some sounds and images define an era. Growing up, and following music at an early age, the images, sounds and rise and fall of one of the most popular bands in Africa in 1980s, l'Orchestre Afrisa International, partly enchanted my boyhood. The two ladies made Afrisa a hit but also contributed to its collapse as Tabu Ley could not manage to keep the two of them happy at the same time (or level). Mbilia Bel was the original diva of Congolese music, and Faya Tess came to Afrisa as a backup singer and dancer but proved capable of taking the front mikes with grace. Suddenly, Mbilia looked indispensable. All three - Tabu Ley, Mbilia Bel, and Faya Tess - attempted solo careers without much success. Faya Tess released one album in 1999 (which the song Adieu comes from). Despite getting help on the album by Africa's greatest guitarist and songwriter/composer, Dino Vangu, her solo career never blossomed. Enjoy the sounds.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Scaling up Human Resources for Health in Tanzania

I came through a research paper that has tried to estimate the needed Human Resource for Health (HRH) in Tanzania by year 2015. The numbers are big, and I doubt at our current pace we can achieve them. But I should point out that in Africa; we are doing pretty well as far as amount of healthcare workers. Many countries in the continent are in a deeper healthcare workforce crisis, and they lose more workers who run to rich countries.

Here is the chart, Courtesy of Chris Kurowski and Dr. Salim of IHI and colleagues who did this research back in 2007 (

Estimates of Human Resources for Health availability and requirements in 2015, likely scenario

Group of cadres





Health professionals, PPR

28 600

115 700

(87 100)


Nurses and midwives

17 700

49 200

(31 500)


Nurses other than community nurses

9 600

34 700

(25 100)


Community nurses

1 900

6 900

(5 000)



6 200

7 600

(1 400)


Clinical and medical professionals

8 200

48 500

(40 300)


Clinical professionals

5 800

36 100

(30 300)


Medical professionals

2 300

12 300

(10 000)



2 700

18 100

(15 400)


Radiological technicians





Laboratory technicians

2 000

11 700

(9 700)


Pharmacological technicians


5 900

(5 500)


Assistant health workers

18 200

8 700

9 500


Health professionals, PPNR

2 300

2 300

Health professionals and assistant health workers

49 100

124 400

(75 300)


Brackets indicate negative values.

HRH_A = human resources for health availability; HRH_R = human resources for health requirements; PPR = priority package relevant; PPNR = priority package not relevant.

Things have got worse because now we are treating HIV positives, putting more pressure on our health systems by adding more needy patients every day that have to be actively surveyed . Adding up HRH needed for Malaria control, a revamped TB endemic due to HIV, and other acute diseases. Clinicians in Dar would also tell you that Diabetes is massively unnoticed. All these adds up to an already overwhelmed healthcare system. Moving forward, it doesn’t matter how much money donors give us. If MOH cannot take bold initiatives to strengthen our healthcare systems, we are doomed. Creating incentives to increase retention rates is a good starting step. Increasing number of pre-service trainees is a more sustainable approach, but the recurrent costs (salary and benefits) will need a hefty economic growth in the next few years—otherwise we can’t afford to scale up. Donors will have to commit for at least 5-10 years to cover the recurrent costs while we are hoping for an economic growth. This can be done now since IMF has removed wage bill ceilings in public spending. In mean time, Ministry of Education has to tweak the curriculum especially for nurses and medical officers to have them graduate faster. And MOH has to implement task shifting to alleviate burden from Physicians and other high end professionals. But adopting these policies won’t be enough if our facilities aren’t equipped enough; again we need a commitment from government not to have ghost hospitals and health centers anymore. Financing all these is a monumental task. Engaging private sector, donors, government spending, fee for services, taxes, or trying to keep inflation down to lower prices of food and fuel and hoping folks will increase their healthcare spending.

Healthcare is often overlooked in development issues, but the truth is people won’t be productive if they are sick. Poverty and healthcare form a vicious circle that politicians do not seem to understand. If a substantial number of our children don’t reach age 5, our middle age group perishes because of NGOMA, and our older adult can’t survive a heart attack or a benign cancer then what is the point of searching for maendeleo?