Tag Archives: Development

What is a Slum in Tanzania?

With time my perception changes. I can almost feel it. It’s due to the fact I am confused. What is poor and what is rich? At their extremes these terms are clear. But what’s going on in the middle? Whenever I see a dirt poor person with threadbare clothing and no shoes walking the streets the sign “poverty” flashes up in my head. But occasional local companions label such persons as “crazy”. So it starts to look like only the mentally ill are at the very bottom of the pyramid.

Housing is a similar case of confusion. What clearly looked like slums to me at the beginning is looking less and less so. I see unpaved roads, narrow pathways and no running water but then I see power lines running through such places and I see that most houses are built from bricks. Can this qualify as slum? Continue reading What is a Slum in Tanzania?

Dar’s Almost Forgotten Central Railway Station

Visiting Dar es Salaam Central Railway Station today was a heart wrenching experience. Coming from a country where trains are public transport no. 1 there was a certain expectation to be able to take a train ride out of Dar one sunny weekend to come.

My colleague and guide for the day was quick to point out that trains don’t run reliably.  Continue reading Dar’s Almost Forgotten Central Railway Station

Judging a Country by Happiness or Unhappiness?

Gross Domestic Product has become the yardstick by which we measure a country’s success. But, says Michael Green, GDP isn’t the best way to measure a good society. The Social Progress Index determines what it means to be a good society according to three
dimensions: Basic Human Needs (food, water, shelter, safety); Foundations of Well-being (basic education, information, health and Continue reading Judging a Country by Happiness or Unhappiness?

Some Examples of Successful Development Projects

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Abhijit Banerjee and Ruimin He have undertaken a rigorous study of the relatively few independent evaluations of aid program successes and failures. They suggest the following interventions are usually highly effective forms of aid in normal circumstances:

  • Subsidies given directly to families to be spent on children’s education and health
  • Education vouchers for school uniforms and textbooks
  • Teaching selected illiterate adults to read and write
  • Deworming drugs and vitamin/nutritional supplements
  • Vaccination and HIV/AIDS prevention programs
  • Indoor sprays against malaria, anti-mosquito bed netting
  • Suitable fertilizers
  • Clean water supplies

(source: Wikipedia and “Making Aid Work”, A. Banerjee and R. He, MIT 2003)

I’d be happy to discuss further successful projects in the comments.

(photo by OXFAM International on flickr)

13 Failure Factors in Development Projects

For quite some time I’ve been interested about development projects. Why some succeed and some fail. I won’t go into specific examples of failed development projects. One particularly outspoken example is a TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli (first part).

“Like parking a truck with two trailers backwards”

What makes many well-meaning projects fail is the huge complexity and the indirect influence necessary for a project to work. I compare it to parking a truck with two trailers backwards (try that for a change :-) ) Here is a list of influencing factors:

  1. Complexity of governance
  2. Long project duration
  3. Complicated action chain from input to  output to outcome and finally to impact
  4. Lack of collaboration across disciplines and sectors
  5. Lack of professionalism
  6. Ulterior motives / hidden agendas
  7. Fundamental change of institutional environment during project
  8. Competition for resources
  9. Lack of proper need analysis / not doing the right things
  10. Redundant projects by different agencies
  11. Not learning from past failures / no independent project reviews
  12. Bad stakeholder management
  13. Population growth is neutralizing success

I am excited to see how FINCA’s founder John Hatch during his many assignments found himself documenting dozens of foreign assistance failures that came closer to destroying than assisting their intended beneficiaries. He longed to create an organization that would allow the poor themselves to manage their own development initiatives. (from wikipedia)

(photo by Cris Potter on StockMoney.com)

Dar es Salaam – Tanzania’s Megacity

It looks like around 4.8 mio people or 10% of Tanzania’s population are living in Dar es Salaam metropolitan area.  It is the economic and administrative hub of the country with a large harbor connecting to roads and rail leading out to the countryside. The airport connects to local and African destinations, plus to Amsterdam, Istanbul, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, some important international hubs. Dar has a problem with slums where many people live without running water or basic services. 70% of the city’s population is estimated to live in informal settlements, according to a World Bank estimate from 2002. Half of them live on less than $1 a day and are vulnerable to flooding and droughts. Dar is one of the world’s fastest growing cities, requiring circumspect city planning which is not happening fast enough.