With many people starting to question where does AID money really go and discovering its a gravy train not only in Africa but virtually anywhere AID and charities are involved my question to you is how to change it? I have seen it personally with fundraisers in the UK adding huge salaries to themselves justifying it as they bring in millions but hey if your going to steal from the poor and donations you do need to justify it somewhere right? or what about the politicians who are mainly names on charities grabbing free perks and benefits even if they don’t grab a salary (but many do). Now to be honest I don’t mind people earning their money but many of these don’t and they do see it as a “job” rather than a humanitarian or educational task which completely undermines anything they choose to do after.
Then the money heads overseas where Expat consultant salaries can reach $500,000 a year to deal with a project due to security issues as well as westernised salaries and standards of living I wonder how many people could be fed from one fat expats trough? On top of that you start getting into the local government organisations and other heads that need shiny new cars and high standards of living which often leads to medicines that should be freely given away being sold to pharmacies to feed a lifestyle. As it fritters down you meet the man on the street lacking in medicines, education and sustainable ways of life. Only use the organisations seem to have is to use these people to fund their money because they certainly aren’t helping the situation. What I will say though is I am stopping the negativity here if you want to research how bad it is spend a bit of time online and also get your hands on some Panorama below which will walk you through the affects in Africa :-
So we will move on to the positive aspects of fixing things rather than gravy train in fact I would like to make a new term here.. I want us to be the “Gravy Train Robbers” stealing money away from corruption and into projects than can and will work. There are a few key reasons why the projects I am looking at will work the first one being removing excess numbers of people who are administrators or hangers on. We are looking to do things directly and as transparently as possible. Fund raising is based on a per project basis and everyone who contributes to it will be listed and where the money actually goes so your pretty much in control of the money you put into a project.
Also we want you to be part of everything we are doing along the way which includes offering up ideas if you want and even physically visiting the projects once they start developing or even being part of the initial setup so you can see real progress.
So why will this work? the whole concept is based on sustainability and development not stagnation which is what AID is about, very few organisations are actually trying to improve things in fact they often make it worse because they put money into peoples hands who created the problems in the first place. Poverty is an excuse and not the problem, the problem is corruption,theft,civil wars or controlling groups. In reality what you need to do in many cases is remove money from the equation. Education to help people is a key way forward in working people towards lifting themselves out of the poverty cycle. In the Philippines its tied with trying to keep the educated in the country to stop the brain drain in education and health. Part of that is creating sustainable livelihoods which for us starts with a mountain region in Minglanilla which is keen to get involved in projects to change the shape of the area. Its a very poor area and I will be following up with more information in the near future but the initial cases we have several problems to address :-
- Initial needs assessment of area and ability for the following to happen.
- Community based farming based on permaculture (initial due to low cost integration and high yields).
- Intensive fish farming including irrigation.
- Goat raising + poultry.
- Training and education in farming methods as well as the formation of a community group.
- Medical needs including dental treatment.
- Low cost housing which may involve long term investment into bamboo production on land for structures.
- Multi purpose vehicle, currently looking at an old Land Rover which can offer multiple attachments including generator conversion to the engine, running on bio diesel as well as drilling attachments for deep wells.
Initial needs – This will be where we look to setup the long term plans for the community and see what they want as well as what is capable. May seem a little odd to actually ask people what they want but many organisations don’t even take the time to do this. The area is up in the mountains limiting areas for many types of crop farming but it doesn’t mean its impossible and introduction of many things will change this but no point if people aren’t wanting to do it.
Community based farming – The whole basis of the idea is that everything is a community not individual basis this allows people to share tools and light machinery when needed as well as labour. For example having one market stall between 10 people in a main town makes more sense than having 10 stalls with hardly any stock. At the same time harvesting works better as a group than individuals. The concept is to make everyone responsible to each other to help the community grow as one. Permaculture methods allow small scale farming to multi-crop as well which in turn provides more daily needs than single crops. The reason for this is many people think farming = grow crops, harvest then sell at market. In reality prices are way too low here making a lot of farming pointless for the small farmer as things like the rice mills and exporters are all controlled by wealthy people offering well below market prices an example of this was a friend of ours had coconuts to sell and a lot of them as its the families large farm that was selling them export price was P2 per coconut which made no economic sense to even bother harvesting the coconuts never mind transporting them. But Permaculture is based on sustainability and allowing you to grow multiple crops in the same area giving higher yields and not only having crops to sell but daily food.
Intensive fish farming – Some people may think I am mad trying to introduce fish farming to the mountains but it makes perfect sense. They have the upper lands and access to
many natural springs that are under utilised on top of that the waste fish water is ideal for using as a fertilizer in irrigation channels instead of waste pumping into a river.
Goat raising – Makes perfect sense in the mountains for a couple of reasons the first is it maximises the use of the farms offering another method of income at the same time much of the goats needs can be grown naturally removing the need for expensive animal feeds unlike pigs. Chickens on the other hand do need supplemented food although they can find 30% of their daily needs naturally by free ranging eggs are expensive so getting the balance right it could be a profitable income for the projects.
Education – Is paramount to everything above as driving home the whole concept and where we want it to go can only work if everyone plays their part in getting things done its not all about rakes and picks but also people approaching local government for funding and raising awareness. On top of this its to inspire people within the community that our changes will make a difference for generations to come. This will hopefully cut down on the brain drain of people leaving for pastures new abroad giving up on the Philippines.
The other points are pretty self explanatory but I am willing to answer any questions along the way.. At the moment the changes are in your hands as I am not asking you to donate yourself unless you want to of course but I am asking you to persuade people to change their donations from many of these bloated and corrupt Charities and Aid organisations. Oxfam for example seems to have money to waste how much do they spend on merchandising their own brand and carrier bags?
Involvement is key to the success of everything we are looking to do which also involves you if you want to be part of it become part of it. Once things start moving we should hopefully gain momentum showing that donations can and will go a lot further than most people expect. Many charities these days only around 10% reaches the people while the rest gets swallowed up in administration and expenses we obviously will still have administration problems as well as insurance issues etc. but I am aiming at 10% as our expenditure with the rest going into the projects. One of the reasons this can happen is how we are going to use the initial investments. For example the fish breeding program tied with the first fish farms will grow on extra fry to give to their neighbours as this will be an ongoing expansive program. We are looking to go with bamboo for cost affective housing which wont be run down shacks but new methods introduced with old materials. Once we have gained a small bamboo farm it will be producing the bamboo needed every few years which removes the cost of land and stock and just needs ongoing maintenance depending on its yields. At the rate we are looking at I would be looking to withhold 30% of annual stocks to resell to keep the farm running removing continuous funding these may also be used in furniture making to produce other items and thus create more jobs as well.
The goats obviously breed regularly and getting people to see the health benefits of goats milk as well as allowing the herds to grow then expanding these out to neighbours will start to give people sustainable livestock’s same as the permaculture.
One thing we may have to invest in is land although there are government lands in the area if we can persuade the allocation to be used for our projects could become free. Long term I am hopeful we can secure lands for expansive projects with many of the regions land masses being relatively cheap compared to others due to access and lack of level ground.
So from here on in and the start of 2011 we are looking to progress things for the better so invite you to help us get underway by redirecting others funds to our pot to get us underway.