Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

I was reading a great blog post about making a real life team to do education programs around the world, starting with Sierra Leone (http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/evokation-seed-the-outlin...) that made me think about how much we can influence abroad and whether this is ethic or not.

World Bank and IMF have been criticized for using a the same set of politics all over the world without considering enough local conditions (for one example of this http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/item.shtml?x=320869). While the positive intentions are clear, adjusting the help to local context is critical to make positive changes according to the local population, which I believe are the only ones who could actually evaluate the benefits of a helping program. The Evoke storyline seems to promote these kind of approaches where people from "outside" just come and use "their" ideas to improve local people. However this could cause important changes in local culture and as such might not give the desired result.

So I wonder what should we include in our projects to help abroad to make sure we don´t impose our own point of view of how they should live, but that we actually make important positive changes in the eyes of the people we're helping. (although I'm open to discussion I'm strongly opposed to think that developed countries know the answer and should teach it to everyone else, I'd rather think everyone has some good and bad ideas and that we should share and learn together)

I guess using participatory tools and working with the local people can help to do this, but as we can see in the Evoke story, doing things by our own is faster. Is it better tho?

Views: 37

Comment by Elastika on March 20, 2010 at 6:46pm
I think your reservations are so right. That's a thing it bothers me from the moment I've joined the network. We (refering to those who never been to Africa) don't have practically any primary data (or direct insight) to back up our thinking. And most importantly any cultural insight!
Still I think the EVOKE is not just about Africa, I think most of the problems presented on the EVOKE are in fact global problems. So at least we can learn from our fellow agents and maybe implement some local changes.
Comment by Shakwei Mbindyo on March 20, 2010 at 6:53pm
+1KS. I look at UE as an example of art imitating life. There are over 10,000 Agents from many countries represented here. I have learnt that we are not all that different in the challenges we experience. For example Joanna Chaplin talked about the energy crisis in Venezuala which is so similar to our experience in Kenya. Others have shared solutions that have worked in their countries and I see the potential for them working in Kenya. I guess the challenge is not so much IF we should try and help but HOW we should do it. After all, Africa emits the least global gases but is most adversly affected by global warming. What happens in one place, happens in all places even if it is not always obvioius.
Comment by Sayel Cortes on March 20, 2010 at 7:33pm
I agree with both of you, global cooperation is the best way to learn about other people experiences, however I think we shouldn´t forget local insight.Failing to acknowledge local needs would only result in a waste of resources and, maybe worse, the feeling that the problem is already solved while it actually isn´t (which would avoid further work on it!)

As Shakwei says, the important thing is HOW we can help. As someone told me once, why would you travel hundreds of kilometers to help when there are so many problems just around the corner. Maybe local projects networked to share information is a better approach?

I would change the popular "Think Globally, Act Locally" motto to "Cooperate Globally, Act Locally".
Comment by Elastika on March 21, 2010 at 4:15pm
love the motto :)
Comment by Sayel Cortes on March 21, 2010 at 8:26pm
Thanks, let's try to make it a reality! somekind of world-habit =)
Comment by Alexandru Cocieru on March 21, 2010 at 9:35pm
People, by definition, have a natural tendency to break things. You can take a look at your 5's and see how many thinks you've broken trying to fix it. Sadly, this habit did not stay only in our childhood, as we grow up, we tend to break more things around us, phones, bikes, cars and even human life (even though if it occurs without a direct intention).

All this breaking is done because of not knowing enough while trying to fix something. I'm sure you guys tried to fix a relationship between 2 of your friends and managed to totally mess it up. This is all because we don't take the time to fully understand the real issue.

Stop breaking and start listening!


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