Browsing articles from "April, 2010"
Apr 30, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Life in Dar es Salaam

Great new posts on life in Dar es Salaam!

JSM at Politics, Society, and Things examines the incentives of dala dala (mini bus) drivers in Dar es Salaam:

The Drivers of the dala dalas in Dar have only one incentive; to make more than TZS 100,000.00 a day. Yes, that is the sum total a dala dala driver is required to bring to his boss – the owner of the those ubiquitous little traveling machines…The dala dala driver knows he must hand over that bottom line figure each day in order for him to keep his job.  So to him nothing else matters, regardless of the consequences he will always race, slow down, over take or block other cars in order for him (and always a male) to get the next passenger, or in his mind the next opportunity to top off that TZS 100,000 for his own income.

The incentives are more perverse for long-distance drivers: they get paid by how quickly they complete their routes. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of bus crashes in Tanzania.

Elise at The Mikocheni Report alerts us to a new trend in rigging elections in Tanzania, buying voter registration information:

I have a “friend” who came by today…

Her local councillor had dropped by the neighborhood sometime before Easter to encourage voters to sign up for a rather novel program. Basically, anyone who wrote down their name and voter registration number on his sign-up sheet would get a t-shirt and other freebies ‘when the time comes.’

Maisha Bora kwa Kila Mtanzania, indeed!*

Finally, Lindsay at Dispatches finds A Tale of Two Cities right under her nose:

Two sets of people in one city [Dar es Salaam], side by side practically, living different lives. One goes to eat and get her nails done and works out at places with generators, so most of the time, she isn’t even aware of how fragile the power supply is in this town. The other spends her nights in the dark. One treats herself to a 15,000 shilling sandwich and coffee at the sleek, urbane Kempinski hotel, and pays 10,000 shillings for the cab ride home. The other spends 1,500 shillings on a lunch of bananas and rice, and 200 for the dala dala home. One wears pretty scarves that she bought in New York. The other cleans them. One rents an apartment on Dar’s peninsula for $1,500 a month, while the other pays a kind of rent to the guy who “runs” the slum where her and her children live, except she doesn’t think of it as a slum.

From her blog, I believe that Lindsay works at the World Bank. Thus, her job is to work for a World Free of Poverty. Lindsay could have a productive conversation with Elise and JSM about the reasons she is fighting an uphill battle to achieve that objective in Tanzania.

*”Maisha Bora kwa Kila Mtanzania” means “A better life for Every Tanzanian” in Kiswahili. It was the slogan of the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), in the 2005 election.

Apr 30, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Depressing Afghanistan daily update

Pentagon Edition. Michael Cohen raises the most obvious implication of the very depressing report:

So not only is the ANSF [the Afghanistan army] unable to provide security in the key districts where they and US troops are located…even if they were able to muster up a military force that was even marginally competent the lack of “rule of law structures” would make such security basically illusory…why are we continuing on a mission – that by the military’s own analysis – is almost certainly out of the scope of our capabilities and the capabilities of our host country partner? And perhaps more directly, why aren’t our civilian policymakers asking this question of the uniformed military?

Prediction: The Battle of “Who Lost Afghanistan” is going to be ugly.

Apr 28, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

FY 2011 US D&G Funding

Freedom House has recently released its analysis of the Obama Administration’s FY 2011 budget request for D&G programs (which the US Government calls Governing Justly and Democratically). Overall, it is a pretty good picture, although there are some troubling signs. Continue reading »

Apr 28, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Barack Obama, State Builder in Chief

A point that I see few people in foreign policy circles making is how much more ambitious Obama’s foreign policies are than George W. Bush’s were. Even if the Iraq war was about democracy (it wasn’t, it was about weapons of mass destruction, by the way), state building in Afghanistan is a far more difficult objective that democracy in Iraq. Although Iraq had a loathsome government, a state did exist, as did a military and a bureaucracy. The US was changing types of government in Iraq, not building a government. The latter is far more difficult than the former, but I see almost no one making this point. Moreover, according to Secretary Gates, state building – globally, not just in Afghanistan – is a central priority of the Obama administration. Writing in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs, for example, Gates states:

In the decades to come, the most lethal threats to the United States’ safety and security…are likely to emanate from states that cannot adequately govern themselves or secure their own territory. Dealing with such fractured or failing states is, in many ways, the main security challenge of our time…

The United States now recognizes that the security sectors of at-risk countries are really systems of systems tying together the military, the police, the justice system, and other governance and oversight mechanisms. As such, building a partner’s overall governance and security capacity is a shared responsibility across multiple agencies and departments of the U.S. national security apparatus

Why so few people see how ambitious (unrealistic?) this foreign policy is remains a true mystery to me.

Apr 28, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

How foreign aid is like counterinsurgency

The increasing militarization of foreign aid is a point we have raised many times on this blog. What strikes me more recently is the increasing congruence in the factors that determine the success of foreign aid projects and in US policy towards Afghanistan. People working in foreign aid have long recognized that country ownership – leadership over development policies and strategies – is essential for these projects to succeed. To put it bluntly, donors can’t want reform more than recipients. Abu Muqawama uses almost identical language in defining the critical aspects to community engagement efforts in Afghanistan:

The first phase…involves a careful reconnaissance of a potential community to determine whether or not local buy-in makes the community ripe for engagement.

My first thought after reading that line is that it sounds like something the World Bank would write. On the surface this may seem surprising as foreign aid and ending the war in Afghanistan seem to have little in common. Upon further reflection it makes perfect sense: in both cases, external actors are attempting to introduce reforms that outsiders see as important, but that local leaders may not want. That finding local champions is a constituent element of both successful foreign aid and community engagement programs is perhaps not surprising at all.

Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

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