Urgent Evoke

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A wake to appreciation and satisfaction - LEARN1

Truth be told, am new to this wh*** idea and concept of Social Innovation but after reading here and there about the concept, I am glad to report that I now have the wh*** concept at my fingertips. What I carry in my head tells me that Social Innovation is all about coming up with new ideas, strategies, and concepts that meet social needs and strengthen civil society.

When I read through Alchemy’s link that he named “Exhibit A” which is about the 33 secrets of Social Innovation, I picked more interest in “what you have matters more than what you lack”. I think this is what people who want to see change in our society need to know! I have seen a number of “social innovators” bring in totally new resources as they implement their initiatives though these have usually been not utilized. On the other hand, the “social innovators” that come in with initiatives that utilize the available resources have ended up working at cheaper costs yet with big returns.

I usually want to base my arguments on real-life situations; am a Ugandan, and we in Uganda do have favourable climatic conditions for farming activities – and we also have a lot of abandoned land in the countryside that could be used for the farming. Unfortunately, we have a number of people abandon the land in the countryside to come and try living in the capital where there are actually no jobs, shelter, and activities to accommodate them. This is how our useful and potential labour gets to waste. I think this explains why Uganda is so poor yet so rich. It’s a shame to say that we have people dying of hunger and that we need food to be imported into the country for our survival.

The World Food Programme has done a lot to fight hunger in the nation though what they provide are temporary solutions to the problem. If we could pick a leaf from Alchemy and his team’s move of saving Tokyo from famine by getting a few plants in the ground, then we would have permanent solutions to the problem. How about if we embarked on programmes sending back the underemployed labour back to the countryside to do farming? Wouldn’t this move in the end provide enough food to push the country through the tough times?

I believe besides being a mind-wake-up challenge, this would also be a move that will help us appreciate what we already have and utilize it to the maximum to create solutions to our problem other than sitting back and waiting in pain for the World Food Programme to bring in food.

“What you already have matters more than what you lack.”

Views: 37

Comment by Ken Eklund on February 13, 2010 at 1:20am
Ronald, I wonder what it is that motivates people to abandon the countryside for the city? To them it makes sense to do so, and I wonder what their thinking is. Until we find that out, I suspect that any attempt to send them back will meet with failure.

But since they are seeking something (or fleeing something), that is possibly something we can use to motivate them to return. If they are seeking more opportunities to make money, for example, can we make it so that farming has more opportunities to make money? Maybe, as you say, the World Food Programme should be buying Ugandan food for Ugandans. What do you think?
Comment by Ronald Kasendwa on February 13, 2010 at 8:43am

Those people believe that the life in the city is not as challenging as that in the countryside – just like the way those in developing countries think about life in developed countries. They call it living in “paradise on earth.” This could be true but then the moves they take create much more compromising situations. The countryside has very few people, little or no business activities, and little resources and infrastructure.

The government has also started programmes and activities that support farming including providing easily acquirable loans that are even of low interest rates to farmers, sensitizing the farmers through community based workshops and seminars, and providing the farmers with free raw materials like seeds. But unfortunately, some of the officials responsible for implementing these programmes usually channel the resources to their personal interests – they are corrupt!

I really liked your idea of solving all this by using their weaknesses to achieve our goals. I also think creating more opportunities in the countryside would help move them back. That is like a mouse tap. Great thinking Ken!
Comment by Ken Eklund on February 14, 2010 at 4:26pm
Farming is hard work, there is no doubt about it (my wife works for a small organic farm). Plus you are at the mercy of the weather to some degree. Based on my wife's experience, there are two major difficulties that need to be overcome to make farming more attractive:

One is to solve the transportation problem. How do you get the food you grow to the people who want to eat it? Without it spoiling? This is actually a bigger problem than it may appear at first. One of the reasons that Uganda brings in food from other countries may be that it is easier than solving this problem locally.

The other difficulty here in the United States is that farming is not respected. But that seems to be changing here for the better. People are paying more attention to who grows their food, and seeking out the best sources of healthy food. To have Michelle Obama start an organic vegetable garden at the White House has done a lot to show Americans that growing food is an ancient and highly honorable tradition.
Comment by Ronald Kasendwa on February 16, 2010 at 6:23am
It is true that farming is not easy work especially the fact that it requires a lot of patience. It is also true that farmers are at the mercy of the weather to some extend; but here in Uganda it is not as complex as it might be out there since we do not have things like winter and snow at all. Uganda’s problem is the no longer predictable rain seasons – but I think if we jump into irrigation, the problem could be solved.

Thanks or sharing the two major difficulties facing farming in the United States. In Uganda, we are lucky not to face the second issue you raised – about farming not being respected. Farming here is seen as a normal job and very prestigious if successful.

The issue of transportation of produce is surely something we need to look at. Uganda’s road poor network and high transportation costs have really hindered the growth of our agricultural sector! Many of the farmers produce for the market but fail to deliver their produce and those who deliver do not do it in time. Usually there are business people who move to the countryside to buy the farmer’s produce – those that can afford the transportation but they buy the produce from the farmers at very low prices. I think this is because they find the farmers in compromising situations.

However, this is not yet fate for our farmers; the government has recently embarked on construction of a good road network in the country – including the construction of feeder roads too. Am very hopeful that with time this problem will be solved; however much time it might take!
Comment by Nathaniel Fruchter on February 20, 2010 at 9:11pm
Ronald, you've got some great ideas. I especially like the local perspective that you bring to things. Many people thing about the food problems in Africa, but very few out of those thinkers have actually gone there, seen the problem, and thought about ways that things can be applied on the ground, in communities. So, keep writing—you're bringing in some fascinating local insights that will be vital to the community. Good work.
Comment by Ronald Kasendwa on February 21, 2010 at 6:49am
Thanks Nathaniel... Will surely keep writing!
Comment by Rendani Mulaudzi on March 8, 2010 at 8:52pm
...good local insight.
Comment by John Evans on March 8, 2010 at 9:27pm
The problem of transportation is interesting. I did a little research and found WorldBike, an organization that provides cargo bicycles, as well as designs and skill development, to rural areas.
Comment by Ronald Kasendwa on March 9, 2010 at 11:08am
Thanks Rendani for that comment.
Comment by Ronald Kasendwa on March 9, 2010 at 11:09am
John, thanks for the link and comment. Am going to read through the site and get back to you!


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