POVERTY AND CORRUPTION IN AFRICA

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Image of poverty in Africa amidst all the rich mineral resources

Original article published in ti-logo

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Around 80 per cent of African people live on less than US$2 a day. Corruption is one factor perpetuating poverty. Poverty and corruption combine to force people to make impossible choices like “Do I buy food for my family today or do I pay a bribe to get treated at the clinic?” Poor people often have low access to education and can remain uninformed about their rights, leaving them more easily exploited and excluded. In order to fight against their social exclusion and marginalisation, poor citizens need a space for dialogue with the authorities.

WHAT WE’RE DOING ABOUT IT

To escape the vicious cycle corruption creates for disadvantaged groups, people need to be able to speak up for their rights and demand accountability from their leaders, ensuring access to basic social services and resources. If the social compact between the government and the people fails, citizens – and especially the poor – are forced to compromise on the quality of their livelihoods and their social and human rights.

Our Poverty and Corruption in Africa (PCA) programme enabled disadvantaged people to take part in development processes by opening dialogue between them and their governments. From video advocacy to pacts binding officials and communities to agreed development targets, every activity was tailored to the national and local context.

Communities focused on their most pressing issues – such as agricultural support, water supplies or free medicines, all underpinned by the common principles of community participation. With its universal principles and adaptable methods, the programme’s approach is applicable in communities far beyond its scope.

If people have a say in how they’re governed (participatory governance) and officials are accountable to the people they serve (social accountability), poor people become aware of their power and the force their voices have when raised. Participatory social accountability tools increase contact between citizens and governments, and therefore increase transparency, accountability and good governance. They reduce the opportunities for people in authority to abuse their power.

Increased citizen participation means better informed communities, more public oversight and less corruption in planning and monitoring local development. This creates a win-win situation: the poor benefit from local development, and people in power benefit from being considered champions of integrity, all while the community prospers.

WHO’S INVOLVED

The PCA programme ran in six different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Six of our national chapters participated:

These chapters used different social accountability tools they developed to engage poor people and their governments in constructive dialogue. Starting on a small scale at the local level, their experiences show how the community participation they initiated gains momentum and ripples outwards, increasing the citizen-government interface further.

OUR APPROACH

In order to increase the voice the people have in shaping and monitoring service delivery, our chapter inLiberia set up poverty forums. These brought together authorities, service providers and communities for open discussions. These forums helped fill the information gap across a wide range of subjects, giving the people the confidence to contribute to decision-making and demand accountability from officials. Local officials now act with more transparency and integrity, unwilling to incur people’s criticism or loss of confidence.

Our chapter in Mozambique worked with community radio and activists to hold officials accountable for the quality of service delivery, by overseeing development budgets and planning. The community activists gathered information about irregularities in services and presented their complaints to local and provincial authorities. The process was reinforced by community radio programmes on fighting corruption, to inspire communities to demand accountability.

In Sierra Leone and Ghana, our chapters established monitoring groups to hold officials accountable. The committees monitor specific sectors such as health, education and agriculture. Members report their findings at quarterly meetings with public officials, where they agree on improvements needed. Monitoring team members then ensure these adjustments take place.

Using participatory video, the problems facing the communities are highlighted, and progress – or the absence thereof – can be recorded. Because making a video is easy and accessible, it is a highly effective tool to engage and mobilise marginalised people and to help them drive their own forms of sustainable development based on local needs. With community action at its heart, this approach opened dialogue between communities and the authorities.

Development pacts were used by our chapters in Uganda and Zambia as a way to hold officials accountable for public service delivery. These pacts act as a social contract, committing communities and officials to an agreed development priority. In Uganda, this meant transparent delivery of agricultural services, whereas in Zambia, the development pacts helped complete a bridge over a river that cuts a community off every rainy season. By opening projects to public scrutiny, in non-confrontational way, the pacts reduced opportunities for corruption, thus helping community members achieve their development targets

http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/activity/poverty_and_corruption_in_africa

Burning Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was one of the most influential novels of its time. However, reading the classic today brings to light stereotypes and plot issues. But rather than write off this classic, author Carl Waters re-imagines and remixes the story into a four-book series that builds from the world and characters Stowe created and expands on the good she intended.

In Burning Uncle Tom’s Cabin, young slave George Harris is a self-taught inventor whose owner despises him. His wife Eliza, however, belongs to another slave owner, along with their three-year-old son Harry.

While George dreams of the day when he can escape to Canada and work to earn enough money so he can buy his family’s freedom, Eliza tries to see the best in her situation. But when her owner falls into financial troubles and plans to offer up Harry as payment against his debt, Eliza runs north with her son.

Suddenly, George must forget his careful planning and immediately go after his family if he has any hope of finding them before the slave hunters capture them. Can the runaway slave, George, find his family and save them? Can he navigate the Underground Railroad and get to Canada? Can he finally gain his freedom?

An innovative retelling that offers fresh insight into America’s past, Burning Uncle Tom’s Cabin is sure to spark as much conversation as the original classic itself. Stowe created the first slavery fiction world and Waters plans to make that world bigger. Most slavery books aim to teach the reader about the dark days of American slavery. Instead, the Burning Uncle Tom’s Cabin series will show the reader what could have happened.

The Author

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Carl Waters, born and raised in Miami, Florida, grew up reading comic books and dreamed of being a new kind of superhero. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.
Waters never forgot his childhood dreams, which over the years transformed into a desire to create new heroes, particularly African-American male heroes, through writing. His debut offering is Burning Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the first book in a four-part series that re-imagines Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic novel, featuring strong characters who break out of the old stereotypes.

http://www.amazon.com/Carl-Waters/e/B00L05RJ76/

Ten Tips To Help Your Child Learn To Love Reading

Article originally posted by Ellen Buikema (Practical strategies for life)

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  1. Sing, play, and talk with your child. Children love to hear your voice. It doesn’t matter if you sing on or off key. Interaction is what children crave.
  2. Read aloud to your child every day. Reading to your child is the next best thing to a hug. Bring books along to the dentist, doctor, or on other errands where there will be some wait time. Read to children as part of a bedtime ritual. Routines are reassuring.
  3. Have a variety of reading material that is easily available. Place books in baskets in different parts of the home, including in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and TV areas. This allows children to choose books on their own and makes cleaning up after themselves easy. Consider putting together a backpack prefilled with books to grab and go for short or long distance travel.
  4. Read many types of books. Children love learning about their world, how things work, and all kinds of animals. Reading for information is important for childrens’ future. They love books with rhyme, silly words, and fairy tales. Start bringing your children to the library when they are young, and visit regularly.
  5. Pace the reading. Read with expression! Change the quality and volume of sound while reading to make listening to stories fun. Take your time, don’t rush. Stop now and then during reading time to let your child think about the story. Ask questions to encourage thinking.
  6. Repeat. Children enjoy reading favorite stories over and over again, even after they are able to repeat all the words by heart. Encourage them to read their favorite lines with you. Point to the words as you read them together. Talk about your child’s favorite characters in different contexts, like “What do you think The Cat in the Hat would do if he was in our kitchen right now?”
  7. Find words and letters everywhere. As early as age two, children may identify logos they see often at home and other places they travel. This important milestone is the beginning of the knowledge that print has meaning. Cereal boxes are great to use for finding letters and logos, as are menus, calendars and occupant mail. Take turns finding the same letter with your child. Write to do and grocery lists together. Have him make words with magnetic letters on the refrigerator.
  8. Help your child learn about letter sounds. Show her how to write her name. A child’s name is her first “stamp” on the world. Say the sounds of each letter as you print them. Sing an alphabet song and include the sounds of the letter in the song, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BELlZKpi1Zs . Encourage your child to write but try not to correct him. Beginning writing should be playful.
  9. Limit tube time. Select TV programs with your child in advance. Watch TV and talk about the programs together. Monitor time on other electronic devices. Video games are good fun and many of them are educational, but balance is needed. Too much close work does not give the eyes enough exercise.
  10. Get involved with your child’s school. You are your child’s first and best advocate. Get to know your child’s teacher. Find out how you can support your child in her academic goals. If at all possible, volunteer time in the classroom. Work schedules make this difficult, but advance planning can help make this happen.

    You are your children’s first teacher. Reading to them is a great start in preparation for life in school and beyond.

    To find out more over this website: http://ellenbuikema.com/ten-tips-to-help-your-child-learn-to-love-reading/