Saturday, May 19, 2007


The pump works well. The boy demonstrated that with just two strokes, clean cool water spurts out of the tap.

This village is lucky. There are still many parts of Nigeria where there are no hand pumps, the women having to trek to the nearest stream. Development agencies are at their best when they work on small-scale projects like this. The amounts are too small for anyone to bother with kick-backs.

Talking of water projects, there is a story development-heads like to tell about a borehole that was installed in a village in Eastern Nigeria. After the well was fitted, the women continued to walk the two hours or so to the local stream with buckets on their heads, ignoring the strange metal contraption they passed on their way out of the village. When the development agency sponsoring this went back to review the project, they found that the borehole had fallen into disrepair. After conducting some interviews, they found out that the village women were not interested in losing their daily chance to catch up on gossip and engage in small trade, outside the watching eyes of the men.

The moral of the story? No matter how small the project, development initiatives have to start with a rich empirical analysis of the rules of the game: who benefits from the current arrangement and why, and how they will be compensated by the new arrangement. A simple idea, seldom rigorously applied.


The Pseudo-Independent 11:35 am  

When I think of the lesson your story is trying to teach, I also think of the "Everyone has an Erect Nipples on a Cold Day story".

When I think of [i] the issue of electricity/power in parallel with [ii] the ethical behaviour of our leaders and the over £220bn which allegedly has been stolen since independence, I find it hard to think every story would have a moral in Nigeria.

Nigeria has been jinxed and I think we should consider getting British Gas (energy) into Nigeria before even thinking of British Telecom (comms).

I wonder when we will breakthrough and Eureka! Eureka! Eureka!

Anonymous,  12:22 am  

here here t-p-i. but why can't we have both.

Actually reading your comment tp-i puts jeremy's critique of Nigeria more in context for me. I always have a knee-jerk reaction to everything he has to say. I guess his whiteness gets in the way. bottom up approach is the way to go.

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