18 August 2011

Internally Driven Aid

The discussion of aid is often one framed in the context of external actors providing support. In the case of the Horn of Africa drought and famine a lot of aid is coming from the same external actors, but some internal initiatives are showing that the aid landscape is starting to change. The following three examples are reason to be encouraged:

Kenyans for Kenya was borne out of the present drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. Coordinated by Safaricom, ICRC Kenya and the Kenya Charter Bank the sms based campaign gives Kenyans the opportunity to help out fellow Kenyans by donating air time. With donations starting at 10/- (less than $0.25 USD), anyone can provide support. Presently, the campaign has garnered $4,302,569.60 in cash pledges and already raise $2.3 million of it.

CNN reports:
"This is a purely Kenyan effort ... finding African solutions to African problems," [Bob Collymore, CEO of Nairobi-based Safaricom] said. "All the aid was coming in for Somalia, but there were also a lot of Kenyans going through a drought."

The first food shipments have already gone to the region, Collymore said.
While food remains a priority, some funds will go toward building boreholes in the region to provide water all year, he said.

"We don't see ourselves as the right people to fix the problem in the long-term," Collymore said. "However, we want to make sure our efforts leave behind a sustainable legacy ... and set the tone in the nation for years to come."

The campaign will culminate at month's end with a telethon.

During the last big famine Bob Geldof and Midge Ure brought together the world's biggest artists to sing and raise money for those in need of assistance. They produced the embarrassingly neo-colonial tune Do They Know It's Christmas? that we will forever have to endure each December. This time around, musicians like Sauti Sol, Sara Mitaru, Juliani, Nameless, Just A Band, The Villagers, and Julie Gichuru are coming together under the banner of Africans Act 4 Africa. With a twitter account and a facebook page, the group hopes to lend their collective voice to encouarging fellow Africans to support the 12 million people at risk. So far, they have raised $2 million via text message donations averaging $3 per text. Additionally, Kenyan firms have pledged $4 million.

Andrew Andasi has set out the goal to raise $13 million for Somali children after learning about the ongoing famine when watching TV. What's so special about Andrew? He just happens to be an 11-year-old from Ghana who plans to reach his target during his 8 week holiday from school. The Save the Somali Children from Hunger campaign* will consist of Andrew spending all of his free time asking for people to contribute to support his cause. He met with the WFP director in Ghana who suggested that he raise money rather than send food. From the BBC:
"If they send it to Somalia they can buy it [food] somewhere around Somalia… because if we gather the food items it will take a long time and the plane will cost a lot," he said.

*Yea, the name could be better, but he is only 11. What is more important is that he heeded the advice of the WFP officer and shifted the campaign to raise money.