Monday, 26 November 2012

Reflections on #whypoverty - Evaluating Bob Geldof and Bono's Live 8 campaign

Should celebrities be involved in International Development?

Bob Geldof and Bono's participation in international development through Live 8 has long been debated since the 1980s. The BBC and Open University documentary 'Give us your money' in the Why Poverty series recently bought to light many issues surroundiung the celebrity culture of international development and poverty relief. Should aid work only be left to the experts?  Can celebrities in international development do more harm than good?

The Live 8 Campaign of Bob Geldof and Bono

The Live 8 campaign of 1985 raised between 50K and 70K to help relieve poverty in some of the world's most poorest nations. Inspired by the Ethiopian famine, Bob Geldfof and Bono quickly realised that they could use their celebrity status to 'Make Poverty History' and influence the world and it's most influential polititians.

Criticism of the Live 8 Campaign

Despite their best intetnions in the Live 8 campaign, it has been heavily criticised by aid workers and some African thinkers themselves. The images of white people 'saving' black people dominated the media, and presented a negative view of Africa.  Arguiably, celebrity involvement in poverty relief undermines African leadership. Perhaps celebrities should not be the voice of Africa, Africans should be the voice of Africa. Yet whose voice would be more likely to be heard?

A key question in this debate is 'was the money raised through Band Aid and Live 8 spent in the right way?' If developing countries' debts had been repayed, this would ammounted to more money than was raised.  Sending food to Africa, specifically Ethiopia is short term aid, rather than a long term solution to the issue.  The Live 8 campaign has also been heavily criticised by David Rieff, who argues that these guilt-stricken donations helped fund a brutal resettlement programme that may have killed up to 100,000. The BBC portrayal of the Ethiopian famine implied that millions of pounds of Band Aid and Live Aid money was diverted into arms sales, but they later apologies to Bob Geldof for this Broadcast.

Praise for the Live 8 Campaign

Despite these criticisms, Bob Geldof and Bono's Live 8 campaign encouraged people to think about poverty in a way in which they had never thought about it before. It created an overwhelming response, and gave people a great deal of education about some of the surrounding issues.

Bono himself recognised that there was much more to it than sending money for food. He said "I'm a singer in a Rock 'n' Roll band, this was economics, so I had to go to school!"  This was the turning point when the campaign reviewed the focus and concentrated on issues of world debt and reframing the HIV and AIDS debate. Bono targeted Conservative US senates and challenged the way that they thought of HIV, shifting the focus from sinful sexual transmission to child transmission and orphans. The realisation of the importance of government lobbying had now set in.

The Make Poverty History Campaign

The 'Make Poverty History' campaign of 2005 focused on three key targets...

  1. To eradicate the debt that developing countries owed to the 'Western World'
  2. To reform trade laws to encourage growth
  3. To double International Aid

Ok, the 'Make Poverty History' campaign didn't make poverty history, but it was a step in the right direction.  Many politicians didn't keep their promises on aid and trade. Yet lives were saved through the campaign, Let's look at the positives - awareness was raised dramatically. Ethiopia has more children going to school since 2005.  Bono now agrees that 'the way forward is for Africa to stand on it's own feet, and I would love popstars to be told to fuck off'!

To find out more about this fantastic debate, watch the BBC's Why Poverty.

What do you think?

What are your opinions on the Live 8 and Make Poverty History Campaign? More harm than good, or a step in the right direction? Do leave your opinion on our blog.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

What is a Social Enterprise?

What is a social enterprise?

The term enterprise is a regularly used term in business. The term enterprise itself refers to ‘the undertaking of a task or project’ in business it refers to trading a good or service and those involved are called enterprisers or entrepreneurs. A social enterprise is set up for social reasons to benefit a community, rather than purely for profit. The easiest way to gain an understanding of how the social aspect of enterprise creates a difference is to look at two examples and compare.

An example of a social enterprise: Kigali Crafts

Kigali Crafts is a British based firm that runs international, its purpose is to import crafts, such as jewellery, to the UK from Kigali in Rwanda. Its aim is to sell these products through online sales as well as through faires and profits that are made are sent back to Kigali in Rwanda to help the genocide survivors. By doing so it creates social benefits for the community, firstly the community, learn new skills so that they are no longer reliant on aid and become self-sufficient. The money made from selling the crafts goes directly back to them, which helps them to buy food and rebuild their lives. 

An example of a profit driven enterprise

To contrast we could consider how a high street jewellery company trades. They may sell similar produce to Kigali crafts yet operate via online sales and global high street stores. They are driven by profit, selling goods to make a turn over, all profit made goes to the company directors and shareholders. Therefore they are an enterprise but not a social enterprise, as society does not directly benefit from there existence.

The benefits of a profit driven enterprise 

It is important to note that large companies do benefit the wider economy through their success. They create jobs, provide a service to the local area, pay rent for their shops as well as purchasing goods from other business which all pumps money into the local community, on a national level they also pay taxes and other subsidies which all improve the national economy. Although this would suggest that our generic high street jeweler is helping society it is not a social enterprise as it is doing so indirectly. To be deemed a social enterprise a business must have its main aim entwined in society.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Why Poverty? A new series of 8 Documentaries by the BBC

Why Poverty?

Tonight will be the first in the series of 8 programmes asking Why Poverty in the 21st Century?  The series was created by the non-profit organisation Steps International.  The BBC and the Open University collaborate with NGO's and more than 70 broadcasters around the world, hosting a contemporary debate about poverty. The series is edited by Nick Fraser and Directed by Brian Hill. It is screened across 180 countries.

Programme 1: Four Born Every Second

The first programme will air at 10.35pm on BBC1, and is called 'Four Born every Second'.  The first in the series asking the all important question 'Why Poverty', focuses on childbirth and infant mortality.

Four Born Every Second BBC1
130 million babies are born each year, but the circumstances and country of their birth will determine their life story. Brian Hill travels from the UK to America, Cambodia and Sierra Leone to reveal some shocking facts about childbirth in developing countries.

The Series: Why Poverty?
  1. Four Born every Second
  2. Give us the Money
  3. Stealing Africa
  4. Park Avenue - Money, Power and The American Dream
  5. Poor us - An animated History of Poverty
  6. Solar Mamas
  7. The Great Land Rush
  8. China's Ant People
Follow this link to read more about Why Poverty? 

Oh, and one more is World Toilet Day! Find out more here.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Masters level study in the School of Politics and International Studies, Leeds University

Post-Graduate Study

Not everyone has the opportunity of post-graduate study. The current hike of tuition fees for both Undergraduate and Post-graduate study in the past year is astronomical. Nevertheless many of us do take on post-graduate study to broaden our professional horizons and deepen our knowledge of a given subject and areas of interest.

The School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Leeds

The School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Leeds offers Masters taught post-graduate programmes in Global Development; Conflict Development and Security; International Relations; Security, Terrorism and Insurgency and finally Politics. For many Leeds seemed a perfect location to undertake postgraduate study as one MA Development student mentioned to me that the size of the city, the University and the school of politics were more attractive than London.

What you study on the International Relations MA

The beauty of this taught MA programme was that, as a student, your core module of your specific degree programme was the only compulsory module. Subsequently there was a great choice of elective modules from other course areas to choose from. As one Conflict, Security and Development MA graduate said, it was ‘the freedom to choose…modules and the diversity of cultures amongst my fellow students’ that drew her to the degree. The choice available meant that students from the different course strands interlinked, bringing comparative and contrasting views and ideas into one module, deepening and broadening knowledge, testing the views and perspectives we held about a certain topic. We definitely had to be accommodating of other opinions. The breadth of discussion and experiences added to the international learning environment and for me straight out of undergraduate study, this allowed insight into what the future might hold.

My Masters in International Relations encompassed such subjects as Contemporary Politics of the Middle East, Politics of the European Union as well as Contemporary International Security and Theoretical Approaches to International Relations. Throughout all of these subject areas the theme that predominated was the impact security has upon development and vice-versa. ‘POLIS’ as the department is known, is recognised for its knowledge and current research into such political interdisciplinary approaches, so current in the international political arena: the interdependence of peace, security and development.

The benefits of an MA degree in International Relations

Our Masters degree at Leeds set so many of us up for our future and I am so glad that I took the opportunity of further study, not only for professional reasons but also for the new ways in which I view the world. I feel that an MA however can benefit anyone, at any point in their lives whether they are straight out of undergraduate study or after ‘X’ many years of work. Now many of my friends are looking for jobs in the Police Force, Development NGOs, European Institutions amongst others. It is clear that Leeds inspired and supported us for the future.

by Imogen Parker

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The UK Government to stop aid to India from 2015

The UK government will stop aid to India

Justine Greening, the International development secretary has declared that the UK government will stop aid to India from 2015.  Current projects will continue to be completed as planned, but the UK will make no new aid commitments to india. Instead, the focus will be on skills sharing on areas such as investment and  health. These changes will mean Britain spending about £200m less from 2013 to 2015 than had been planned by the former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell (1).

Why the UK government have made the decision to stop aid to India
An aid programe itself can't solve the problems of poverty in India. In addition, setting arbitrary monetary targets can discourage careful planning of projects.  The UK government should not be criticised for trying to save tax-payers money, as the budget is ringfenced for aid programmes, and comes through DFID, one of the only UK government departments with a growing budget. Indian finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee said the country no longer wanted or needed the British aid, describing the money as "a peanut in our total development expenditure" (2), indicating that this aid may not be best for India from India's perspective.

This new 'trade not aid' approach to India could be seen as a positive move forward considering that india is one of the worlds fastest growing economies. India has space programmes and a significant defence force. India has great potential in technology and business, and if skills are embraced, India should be given the chance to work itself out of poverty. 

Criticism of stopping aid to India

Many charities have criticised this decision, as 1 in 3 malnourished children in the world live in India. Skyscrapers are found next to slums and squalor. Tearfund argue that DFID aid can work in India, and that it could be used for other long term issues, such as tackling corruption and building resilience to disasters.

Image taken from

World Vision has warned that the UK's decision to stop aid to India will put the country's development at risk. Although the Indian economy is growing, World Vision said it would be "no easy task" for the government to lift so many people out of poverty in the short term. David Thompson, head of policy at World Vision, said: “We agree that development aid to India needs to be phased out over the long term.
But the moment nearly half of India’s children under five are stunted by lack of nutritious food. That is more than 60 million children, equivalent to the entire population of the UK." (3)

Save the Children said it believed the decision to end financial aid was "premature". "Despite India's impressive economic progress, 1.6 million children died in India last year - a quarter of all global child deaths," Kitty Arie, its director of advocacy, said.(4)

The decision to cut India's aid has also been criticised by MPs. The Labour MP Keith Vaz said the move would affect India's most vulnerable (5).


The move toward encouraging independence through trade for India has received a great deal of criticism, but could lead to the long term success of India as a whole.  It may mean that some of the most vulnerable may suffer in the short term, although sometimes decisions have to be made that result in some suffering, in order to reach sustainability. Only time will tell whether the British government have made the right decision on aid to India, but we must have faith in our goverments expert decisions, as well as consider the bigger economic and political picture.  One thing is for sure, aid will need to get smarter if it is to really make a difference, and skills exchange should not completely replace short term disaster relief.

I would welcome your comments and opinions on this blog. Have the UK government made the right decision for India?


1., accessed [10/11/12: 12:00]
2. Ibid.,
3., accessed [10/11/12: 12:05]
4. accessed [10/11/12: 12:10]
5., accessed [10/11/12: 12:12]

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Did anyone come to Rwanda’s aid during the 1994 genocide?

Did anyone come to Rwanda’s aid during the 1994 genocide?

International leaders were strongly criticised for failing to come to Rwanda’s aid. Most Western aid workers and soldiers were pulled out of Rwanda following the murder of 10 Belgian soldiers in Kigali.

Tutsi men, women and children were being murdered, yet for weeks foreign leaders failed to acknowledge that the genocide was occurring as this would have demanded their direct intervention and aid. Some have claimed that foreign governments initially viewed it as a civil war, not a genocide.

Why were international governments reluctant to intervene during the Rwanda Genocide?

Some governments, including the US used terms such as 'acts of genocide' to identify what was occurring in Rwanda. The issue was that if it was declared officially as a genocide, these governments had a duty to intervene. The reluctance of the American, and other European governments to stay in Rwanda may have been influenced by the brutal murder of 10 American soldiers in Somalia in 1992. As their bodies were brutally shredded and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, the reality of the horrific consequences of interevening in Africa came to light.

In addition, it is questionable whether international givernments have their own interests at heart when intervning in African conflicts. After all, there are no oil reserves or diamonds in Rwanda...

The role of RTLM Radio

The Rwanda genocide was fueled and quickly escalted due to the RTLM radio, which was a hate radio station encouraging people to turn against the Tutsis.  On an international level, there may have been reluctance to intervene in this due to freedom of speech. But many argue that by cutting off the RTLM radio station, the genocide would havebeen unlikely to spread to many rural areas of Rwanda.

What bought the Rwanda Genocide to an end?

The genocide came to an end in mid July 1994 when the Tutsi military group the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) managed to defeat the Hutu extremists. Paul Kagame finally became President of Rwanda in 2001 after occupying a number of different functions in the government, including Vice President. He continues as President today.

Follow this link for background information on the Rwanda genocide. We are always striving to improve our links and information, so please comment on our blog.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Rwanda - Genocide

What was the Rwanda Genocide?

The Rwanda genocide occurred in April 1994 and resulted in the deaths of over an estimated 800, 000 Rwandans, mainly Tutsi's and Hutu moderates.[1] Approximately 20% of Rwanda’s population lost their lives in the genocide and three-quarters of the Tutsi civilian population.[2] Most of these deaths occurred in a period of just 100 days.[3]

Where is Rwanda?

Why Did the Rwanda Genocide occur?

The Rwanda genocide was a result of tensions between Hutus and Tutsis (the two main tribes in Rwanda) that stemmed from Colonial rule. Belgium colonisers had left power to the Hutu but had previously given the majority of the high status posts to the Tutsi. Many Hutus blamed the Tutsis for being responsible for Rwanda’s economic and political problems and bitterly remembered past centuries of Tutsi rule and oppression. Tensions were sparked when the plane of President Habyarimana was shot down on 6th April 1994. Although there was no clear evidence of who was responsible for this, Hutu extremists blamed the Tutsi and used it as an excuse to start a civil war targeting the Tutsi and their sympathisers.[4] Within just two hours of the plane being shot down,  roadblocksappeared on the streets of Kigali. The perpetrators' aim was to exterminate all of the Tutsi population, regardless of sex or age.  The genocide originally started in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, but quickly spread to the rural areas, fueled by RTLM radio.

Who was involved in the Rwanda genocide?

Around 200, 000 people were involved in the killings, including many Hutu members who were high up in the national government, military and media.[5] The media played an important role in inspiring hate against the Tutsi and failing to report the events that were occurring accurately. Hutu civilians were also involved once the violence became widespread.

Whole families lost their lives in the genocide. Many people were tortured before they were killed and women were often brutally raped before they were murdered, which led to the spread of HIV.
Many people tried to seek refuge in churches and schools in an attempt to escape from the horrific slaughter. However, the Hutu extremists just used them for committing mass murders.  The enforced carrying of identity cards detailing whether people were Tutsi or Hutu (put in place by colonial rule) made is easier to identify potential victims.

Thankfully now, Rwanda avoids using tribal distinctions and most these days call themselves Rwandese.

What can you do to help genocide survivors?

There are a number of ways you can support the survivors of the Rwanda genocide. One excellent way is by buying beautiful Rwandan gifts from organisations such as Kigali Crafts, which helps to support genocide survivors through fair trade. Kigali Crafts now financially supports over 100 Rwandan families.

You can also volunteer or sponsor a child through a charity such as Faith Victory Association.Faith Victory Association helps genocide survivors to get the essential trauma counselling they need and the support to raise families as lone parents.

Follow this link to do something positive about the Rwanda genocide.

Further Reading

For further reading, I recommend We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch. It gives an excellent and easy to read historical and political context to the Rwandan genocide.

You can also read my next blog, which will focus on the intervention of international governments (or lack of) during the Rwanda genocide.