POVERTY AND CORRUPTION IN AFRICA

Poverty 4

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

What Has Happened To The Precious Dignity Of A Woman?

 

Nude celebrities spoiling the names of other women

This is not a fashion but the abuse of the precious dignity of a woman.

The concept of life is a reality to me. If there is no baby, there is no woman and if there is no woman, there wouldn’t be a baby. They all come from the mother’s womb. Woman’s creation is therefore seen as a symbol of crown, dignity, honour and beauty. Women are therefore special. I believe women see themselves in the same way too, that’s the reason all over the world they are fighting against disrespect, discrimination, sexual harassment, abuse, and violence because the importance of women has been marred for centuries.

Unfortunately, the fight against factors affecting or degrading women in the circles of life, is far from victory, because the same women (Some celebrities) and porn stars are spoiling the essence of the dignity of woman, by flooding the internet with pornographic materials and naked pictures for everyone to see. A woman’s body is meant to be sacred, secretive etc, but today all you see is woman’s vagina staring at you on the internet.

Some celebrities now prefer to attend functions, parties, fashion shows and entertainments without underwear. It sounds strange but it’s a reality. They deliberately set to expose their hairy or shaved vagina, while others pose by lifting up their dresses for photographers and everyone around to see them nude in public. What a world are we living in? It saddens me, as women meant to be decent mothers and industrious, yet they do this to themselves.

I am not a celebrity, therefore I don’t know how one feels to be one, but if being a celebrity triggers mental instability, I wouldn’t like to be one for even a second. In the African society; women are held in high esteem, despite their domination by some religious sects. In some clans and tribes, because of the importance of a woman in the society, during a marriage ceremony, the man is prevented from seeing the woman, until the ceremony is over.

It may take weeks or months to see the nude legs of your wife, let alone her thighs or the golden box. This is not the case in Europe and America. It seems when a celebrity doesn’t appear online nude she isn’t classified as a human being among the human race, while in the African culture, a woman who doesn’t wear pant is considered a lunatic.

In another development, a Kenyan pastor has told his female congregation to feel free in their mind and body and stop wearing underwear and bras to church on Sundays. Reverend Njohi of Nairobi’s Lord’s Propeller Redemption Church further warned there would be grave consequences if the female members did not adhere to the rules. Hearing of such things reminds me of the fulfilling of the scriptures. “Many false prophets will rise, and will deceive many,” said Jesus. Matthew 24:11.

Why do some women do such things in public knowing that the dignity of a woman lies in moral and physical purity? The thirst for fame, publicity and the challenge of doing something (stupid) they think it’s extraordinary, for the press to write something about it, is all that they are looking for. Media attention and cheap publicity have blinded them to the extent that they don’t know what shame is.

Adults that need to educate the children from such immorality are now exposing their naked parts on television and in the public for the children to follow. No wonder teenage pregnancy and rape have significantly increased. It is disgusting and an eyesore to see the precious and sacred body of a woman advertised for public view. It takes a million people to build a good reputation but one stupid fool to destroy everything they had done. These celebrities are tainting the dignity of women and dragging their faces in the mud.

The range of female influence and experience in the society has slowly been brought to the fore: from politics, powerful leaders, model women to the social and religious power of female priests. Is it necessary for women to fight against disrespect in the society when they continue disrespecting themselves? The hardest problems have solutions. The restoration of women’s dignity should be a priority to every woman. They can fight to make the internet clean by discouraging nudity on the internet, to make the internet safer for the children.