Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Poverty Reduction and Consumption, the Inverse Relationship

A marriage from hell?
Millions of people are being pulled out of poverty every year, faster than ever before, although not true for the entire planet, this trend is undeniably awesome. It, of course isn't all a big love story. The World Environmental Databook (2010) shows increasing per capita consumer trends globally, with middle and low-income countries taking the cake. To feed its massive engine China is consuming resources at breakneck speeds without consideration for the irreparable damage it is causing in both its own backyard, and across Africa (Angola, Sudan...). The same databook tells us that China was consuming 95% more electricity provided by fossil fuels than the prior year, this compared to Canada's fossil-fuel electric production reduced by 3.5%. Not that Canada is a prize-pig in the environmental awards of 2012-13 either, but the speed at which resources are being consumed globally is dubious at best, horrifying at worst. What are the options that exist? I won't be the one to tell someone they can't work, or can't have electricity in their homes because it's generated by fossil fuels. A middle-ground exists where resources can be sustainably extracted, and all I believe it would take is a large short-term investment, heavy environmental assessment laws that are enforced and some bloody common sense.

Elizabeth Economy wrote in 2010 that the extreme levels of water supplies in China pose the "greatest social, economic, and political challenge of the the 21st century". When we have the professionals, skills, and technology to prevent disaster and certain economic and political crises from erupting across the planet, we should be using them, not ignoring them. For all of you flying across the planet to go to Kenya for 2 weeks to install solar panels, I need you to think really hard if what you're doing is best for the environment, or best for yourself.

In one of the greatest books on development I've read recently, "Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Prospects for pro-poor development" I found out that "there is no systematic link between the level of development and the importance of consumption inequality for poverty reduction". Consumption isn't used as a sole measurement of development, and if we define "developed" as "high consumption" (which we virtually do), then we are looking to change more than poverty reduction in the future. If poverty reduction strategies are successful in parts of the developing world, be it through economic growth or adequate government support mechanisms, then those countries should be immediately thinking of sustainable waste, energy and production methods. it should be built into their systems, not needing to be adapted for the changes that will come to our production chain, if they like it or not. Because we have to adapt our entire supply chain/production systems within the next few decades, and the private sector is definitely not fully embracing the change.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Southern France: The Côte d'Azur Illusion

I had an idea of what Nice and Southern France would look like. Beautiful Mediterranean apartments and villas, old medieval churches, unending beaches, beautiful women, and lots of tourists. This idea was only partially correct. The reality of Nice is far different from how I imagined her, and if it wasn't for her lovely neighboring villages I may have left with a bad taste in my mouth.

Nice suffers in the same way the Paris surrounding area does: suffers because of decades of failed immigration and urban planning policies. The Paris situation is less visible because for the last five decades it has been keeping minorities and most immigrants in the Banlieus surrounding the city like a cushion (think GTA); whereas Nice being a small city has integrated its French segregation policies into the town itself. There is a clear divide between the (mostly youth) North and West African and the white French population in the city, and maybe I'm exaggerating but sitting on the tram you can feel the tension. A police officer from Nice told me that while working in Marseille his station had grenades thrown into the building on 9 occasions. This sounds like Afghanistan, not Le Midi. The feeling in Nice is that it is a great place to go if a) you're wealthy; b) you're not actually staying in Nice but somewhere nearby c) you're stopping in for a wedding or d) you're comfortable with the constant threat of being pickpocketed and robbed past dark at any time.

Ville Franche sur-mer
Now for the part that isn't an illusion: the surrounding countryside. Take the train 5 minutes outside of the city, and you have a great treat waiting. Villages built on cliffs, walking-only roads with restaurants and cafes strewn about around every corner, bridges and medieval history reeking from every pore of the stone. Take a nap in a small shaded area by trees near an old church. ahh. This is the Côte d'Azur I have in my mind. settle the night with a tasty dinner and a complimentary glass of cognac. Since living, opposed of traveling I've been very careful to not judge a place before going, and finding gems like this emphasizes the importance of going yourself, and feeling the best and worst of the world, because they go hand-in-hand.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Paris via bicycle

Riding a bike in a city can be intimidating if you haven't sat on one since you were twelve; and in small Canadian cities the possibility doesn't even exist depending on your living/working situation. Toronto is now struggling to accommodate towards cyclists while not taking funding from other "public transport" sectors, when in all actuality if the city did make cycling more appealing and safe it would be helping itself out in more ways then one. More cars off the streets, less need to fix the problems that cars create, to say the least the healthcare epidemic that exists from a lack of exercise (if you're not walking more than 500 steps a day, you're in for some serious health problems down the road). These are, I suppose some aspects of the pro-cycle community. But I feel there is a much larger side, a more passionate or emotional argument that politicians and construction companies don't like to hear.

If by chance you live in a city that's interesting enough to ride a bike to work, or for leisure, or to the library; then this article will be a repetition of how you feel outside on the road. I right now am lucky enough to live in a interesting city that makes for interesting bike rides. Get some sun. see new roads. Find new stores and cafes. Learn the cities' orientation better. A friend of mine has never taken a bike for the past 3 months since living here, and has no idea where anything is, for that matter where she is; because the metro lines keep you underground and pop you up like a gopher within 100 metres of your destination. No need to walk around, or to breath in new aspects of the city. Riding lets you learn more, and allows you to really feel loosened off of the strict paths of point A---->>point B.

"It's Dangerous!!!!" I have my doubts. If I'm still alive riding how I do, combined with how Parisians drive, and how the roads are laid out, I don't think it is at all. Don't feel like researching it, but even with no one wearing helmets here I'm yet to see someone get touched by a car. Get out, get on a bike, and quit being lazy.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Post-2015 Goals Released: Eradicate Poverty, Same System - New Catch Words

Seeing that I will be graduating in a post-MDG world, I should have adequate resources available to see what goals were achieved and where, how they were achieved, or what prevented their success. The MDG's have been heavily criticized for not being strong enough or inclusive enough, to answer some of its critics, the goals set for 2030 are focused entirely around the eradication of extreme poverty, measured by people living on less than $1.25 daily.
“Our vision and our responsibility are to end extreme poverty in all its forms in the context of sustainable development and to have in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all.”- UN Post-2015 Report
The executive report acknowledges some of the faults of the MDG's and gives itself a large pat on the back for the successes as well, but emphasizes how the 2030 goal agenda shows its teeth more, and will build on the successes of the MDG's. The 12 new objectives cover food and water issues, health, gender equality, environmental sustainability, international trade equality; all bases covered except equality, as argued here. I'm sure I'll have to delete this post once professional criticisms start rolling in. 

Here's what I think about it: Over the past couple of decades we have become better and better at organizing committees, writing reports, setting projections, gathering data, analyzing the best way possible to meet goals, finding stats to prove our success, which our critics will simultaneously use to disprove us. Better at abstractions,worse at shaking hands, using common sense, and reading about the past to see what should be done to ensure the same mistakes aren't repeated. I would like to see a study on the total spent by INGO's, governments, think tanks, development organizations, UN-bodies etc. to calculate how much time and money has been spent throughout the past 50 years. "We need to have these meetings in order to set definitive goals, and reach agreements..." is undoubtedly a strong argument. But when those agreeing to the goals aren't legally obliged to follow through, nor are any of the positions of government stable for more than a few years, the ability to blame others is all too readily available. 

These new goals cover topics that clearly states' have no longer control: end agricultural subsidies? Create an international financial system that promotes fair trading practices? What government has enough power to make these changes? What leader is willing enough to propose these issues in parliament at the almost guaranteed loss of power? The technocrats of the North and of the South have neither the honesty, moral integrity, or leadership abilities to uphold these lofty goals of reformation. I will work, and likely dedicate my life to achieving ends such as these, but unless the people at top want to cooperate, my job isn't going to get any easier. Find the full UN Post-2015 report here (PDF)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Anti-GMO Protests: Righteous Cause or Lack of Information?

May 25 marked the international day of protest against Monsanto, with more than 100 cities globally having hundreds or thousands protest that company for various reasons ranging from its Agent Orange production and subsequent use during the Vietnam War, to current pesticide and GMO uses.
May 25, 2013 Monsanto Protest Paris
Brief History: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are those species that have had their genetic code altered in some way or other as a means of increasing production, resistance to pesticides, reduce water required for growth, resistance to pests or diseases. GMO production combined with improved agricultural techniques helped to bring millions of people access to food, allows drought-resistant crops to be grown in food insecure places, and importantly, allows for greatly yield to be obtained with smaller land requirements. That is what pesticide and GMO production corporations proudly claim, but indeed there is a cloudy aspect of their uses: primarily that the impacts on humans after use and consumption are widely unknown, as well the impacts on the environment, certain pesticide/herbicides have been blamed for causing Colony Collapse Syndrome, in which entire bee colonies die off or disappear.

The Importance of Fact vs Opinion
 This is not a topic I have studied extensively, and as such am not making any claims of expertise: I believe, like with most technologies, there exist both positive and negative aspects that should be taken into consideration before forming an opinion. While at a protest against Monsanto on Saturday, I heard many fact-like claims, like Monsanto is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers because of increased seed and water prices. After brief research I came upon an article in Nature that proved otherwise. The research found that unfortunately the high levels of suicide existed before Monsanto entered the region. This is one example of common misconceptions that may exist, emphasizing the need for proper research to further understanding of often times complex issues. Seeing that the companies developing the new types of crops patent scientists are faced with considerable difficulty to test the impacts of GMO crops. I have no doubt, that like the climate change argument the "it's more complicated then a yes/no answer" given to the public by the scientific community is frustrating to a public that demands a direct answer, and will ignore anything but one.
Source: Gruère, G. & Sengupta, D. J. Dev. Stud. 47, 316337 (2011).
Why Protest? If I don't know much about the topic, why the hell did I go to a protest against Monsanto? Mostly because I'm perpetuating exactly what I've been speaking out against, taking uninformed opinions! A mega-corporation like Monsanto has its hands in many pots, producing chemicals, putting patents on advanced seeds preventing their widespread distribution, pushing small farmers out of business who don't use their seeds, and of course, widespread use of pesticides when their uses are truly unknown and likely negative. Are these things true? I believe them to be, perhaps from something I've read, or maybe be told by a bird in my ear, and after more research, will give a more decisive answer. Until then, watch for flying rumours, they could really hurt someone!

Friday, 24 May 2013

International Development as Organized Complexity

     When first formally introduced to the extremely wide field of development I was completely overwhelmed by the breadth of the subject: poverty is the cause of many dozens of different issues spread over time and geographic space, both of which only increasing the complexity of the causes and solutions with their size. This series of comprehensible, tightly intertwined issues that cause poverty in a region are an example of organized complexity. Early poverty-reduction methods took the traditional, cause-and-effect approach that reflects the early scientific model, seeing a problem, giving a direct solution ignoring the complexity of that 'single' problem. Most of them, as Dr. Weaver is quoted in The Death and Life of Great American Cities of saying cannot work for issues that involve organized complexity: non-chaotic issues with solutions only found in many simultaneously occurring actions. With this is mind, myself and other future development practitioners must embrace the successful movements of the past, and never lose sight of the complexity of a single issue being addressed.

   This, I fear, is the thing that will prevent my full comprehension of development issues, and perhaps even finding solutions. As a westerner I am born and bred to be a creature of rationale and of reason, and this has created in me a kind of desperate need to find the logical solution to an issue, embodied in logical frameworks and statistical analysis, have huge holes in their all-encompassing, one-solution-to-many-problems approach. There is a way to avoid falling into this trap: full immersion to learn the current ways that organized complexity is controlled (or not), try to comprehend the many working parts that combined create the issue(s) at hand, and supply rational logic only when needed, incrementally to each aspect at hand. As I continue to learn, this will likely change, but as of now I feel this is how long-standing harmful problems can be solved, with minimal western ideological input, which occasionally* has been found to be ineffective.

 I believe the blog,, has covered this topic before, will update when I find the link.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A True City of Neighborhoods er..Arrondissements

After reading some classic urban planning texts I can't help but continue to ruminate about what makes this city so different, and effective, compared to the younger version of cities I'm used to in North America. 

Some key points first: There is no "downtown" or "Central Business District", the city  is actually 20 mini-districts that spiral outwards from approximately The Louvre. You won't notice walking from one to the other, the borders are sometimes physical barriers (e.g. water), and each one shouldn't be thought of in the same way Canadians' think of the GTA or Greater Vancouver Area, they all collectively make Paris as its known. Each arrondissment (as they are called) takes up some degree of responsibility for its citizens, managing public affairs such as garbage collection, street cleaning, park maintenance, language classes, immigration services, public pools...pretty much everything day-to-day. The larger affairs, like getting accepted through immigration, work permits or legal affairs are dealt with through the larger over-arching 'provincial' municipality, Ile de France. And for arguments sake I'll let you know those small towns surrounding the city border are no more suburban than inside the city: similar densities exist.

What is so different?
Text-book mixed uses in Paris 15th Arrd.
If this sounds similar to Toronto with its many neighborhoods, then why is it that these two cities are so socially and economically different? I do not doubt that there are many dozens of reasons we can whine out about cultural and age differences which no doubt exist, but I argue these are not the main differences. They are pieces of a tool that Europeans have used for hundreds of years out of practical necessity before they even had names: the tools of mixed use planning. Mixed use is something used in (not coincidentally) every single Canadian cities' best 'hoods, it is the complete mixture of residential and commercial spaces, with important places used at night as well as during the day. Mixed use of land covers the entire city of Paris, every street is used for everything, with small construction shops behind closed-up windows, grocers, bars, cafes, fruit stands etc. all below stories of apartments, most not more than 7 stories in height.This is not the entire city, there are areas especially in the 18-20th arrondissements that have overwhelming amounts of high-rise residential apartments, but even these areas have full bottom-space committed to all and any required resources. 

Non-mixed uses like what exists in even the best Canadian neighborhoods, e.g. areas designated specifically for stores, others for industry, others for houses, others for town-houses, for high-rises, creates huge vacuums of space, areas that are unwalkable, uncomfortable or simply unlivable. I think of mid-rise, nice condominiums in Guelph's west end that have been vacant for years after completion: the planners pictures don't match the reality that someone wants to walk to work, school, groceries, and for play (kids=day, adults=night). After the developers' initial payments of installing suburban sidewalks, roads, and piping needs to be replaced, do you think the amount of people living on one suburban street can cover the cost? not even close. It is the people in the sustainable parts of town that need to foot the bill.

Solutions exist, can and are being implemented to help fill this vacuum of space, and to make our cities more economically feasible and enjoyable in general. To do this cities' must be thought of as compartments of areas where humans live, not compartments of numbers that require only one thing at one given time. We are not discreet in our movement, we are continuous, and our construction patterns should be reflective of this. Solutions can be thought of based upon those people in their district seeing how their ideal city would be: not the city in the imagination of a planner who was born, raised, and probably will die in a suburb.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Parisianius Exteriorous

Local Park @ Rue Croix Nivert, 15e
Le Motte Piquette market: efficient use of space
 I can't say factually whether or not people in Paris are outside more often than those in North American cities, there is a much higher population density,  than say in Toronto.
20,741 people/ km sq. in Paris [Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques] whereas Toronto (not including GTA) has a pop. density of 4,149.5 persons/ square kilometre. [Stats Canada]. Which may make it seem like people are outside more often merely because there are more people in a smaller space. This extreme density can be explained by the simple fact that apartments are smaller, families live almost exclusively in apartments - sorry Toronto councillors, families CAN live in flats.

Famous Jardin de Luxembourg, near the Senate

Courtyard in the Medieval Sorbonne campus

Why are they outside? Socially, Parisians do something interesting for leisure that we once did in Canada: they walk. I can remember going for after-dinner walks with my parents or grandparents as a boy, but now it is a rare occasion. On even a moderately nice day it seems that every Parisian flocks to the nearest park, garden, public square, or just to the street to walk. Perhaps like myself they're just trying to get out and stretch their legs because of the crowded apartment sizes (9m2-15m2 is average for singles and couples); but I think there is another reason for it. The people walk because it is enjoyable: the architecture, the street layout, the mixture of residential, commercial, industrial, public space, and educational institutes (see Sorbonne courtyard below). In most Canadian streets in small and large cities alike, there simply is nothing to see when you walk. Most Parisians I have met are eager to come to Canada, it may be a polite gesture, but there is a reason for it: they want to witness our marvelous natural habitats. This is good, we are known for our nature, but most definitely are not known for incredible city life; more up-to-date folks know of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, but a large number of people can't name any Canadian cities. Perhaps if they were more enjoyable to be in, more welcoming for walking, and provided more things to see, our cities names' will be more globally recognizable. In the meantime we can all get out on a day off, enjoy some sun or rain, and see what's around our neighborhoods - who knows maybe you'll be surprised.

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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Paris @ Night: Prepare for the Best, Expect the Best

"No Pictures Allowed (Le ballroom du Beef Club)"
The first night of partying here (not coincidentally the day of arrival) I learned a hard lesson: I'm not special. Bouncers can, and will turn you away if you don't represent what the owners want their bar to look like inside and out. Luckily for me I never had that problem, but became very aware of the potential. What can you do here?  Anything you want to do. If you want to party until 7 in the morning or well into the afternoon this is your city. Just like in Canada there are different tiers of nightlife, some younger-crowd, Irish, Scottish, Canadian, Aussie pubs are a good time, if you want to come to Paris and go to something familiar [why the hell you would want that I'm not sure]. Then there is a bohemian district known as Oberkampf, a more localized and 'organic' part of Paris, with gritty bars, interesting people and a solid mixture of ethnic diversity.There are many mention-worthy places I have found so far, and will say one more area, Rue Montmarte/Rue Montorgueil. These two streets have several exclusive clubs, with no cell reception, no pictures, amazing music and really friendly people. Even going alone one will meet friendly people here, get cocktails from award-winning bartenders and listen to funk-swing-electro, impossible not to dance, meet people and party until 6am, and catch the first metro ride home in the morning.
Le Next Bar (website pic)
This atmosphere exists here as a result of several things that I dearly wish existed in Canada: informal rules when necessary, and formal rules that are flexible. In Canada other than dress code regulations you will get let in anywhere, not the case here: and its not a problem to not let you in. Bars will stay open and serve as long as the patrons are in, which allows you to take your time, finish conversations, and be relaxed although the sun is coming up. The strict rules in Canada of forcing people to be finished at 230 : usually only two hours after coming in: : are a source of stress for everyone going out. Let's relax on the rules, create more mystery in nightlife, restrict douchebaggery to several designated places and enjoy ourselves, Canada.

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Saturday, 18 May 2013

Paris, Language, and Stereotypes, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the City

After a month I've decided I should clear up a few things, and give a few insights into what life is like in Paris after a month, with three more to go.

The city. At first glance it looks to have the chaotic undertones of a Mediterranean metropolis, little enforcement of laws, lax road regulations and little state involvement. Upon further searching I have realized this to not be the case at all. Hundreds of years of (semi-modern) city development has resulted in Paris becoming an organic entity, its streets, people, buildings, public systems, political changes, social capital and economy all reflecting an old-growth forest of types with huge biomass, and a strong degree of adaptability.This topic of the city will be the focus of these posts so I won't dwell on it much now.

The language. Having a very basic level of French here is enough to get by here if necessary. Most people I have met are bilingual at the very least, and are looking to speak English anyways as a way of showing off or even to practice their English. I have improved my French already to the degree that I can speak freely with people, as long as I have time to think before speaking, and am much better off if the person speaks no English at all, as they'll see me struggling and just start speaking Eng. = not good for learning the language.

1. Parisians are rude to anyone who doesn't speak French: This stereotype I have found to be completely faulty, and of course with a bias behind it. Anglophones likely have the idea that everywhere, everyone should speak English, and we shouldn't make an attempt to make conversation. If you take this approach, I'm sure you'll be met with some rudeness, and if someone came to my store/taxi/resto demanding I speak a foreign language I would likely be rude as well. They're fine here, just make a slight attempt to speak French, or don't assume they speak English and go full-on.

2. Parisians eat baguette, drink wine all day, love cheese more than their children, and smoke like its not out of style. True. True, but also drink beer. True, love cheese and premium cheese is cheap. true.

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Saturday, 16 March 2013

Generation Jobless?

   We're living in interesting times, and I have garnished several titles, Gen Y and Gen jobless being the most used. With the 18-26 age group suffering from double unemployment rates compared to other demographics at times it appears joblessness has become a generational issue. Chronic unemployment is a problem found for many skilled workers here in Canada, and for those unwilling to travel across the country for potential work the prospect of unemployment is even wider. Some of my colleagues (and those who are no longer my colleagues) have shown some degree or other of worry for finding employment, which brings up some important questions: is unemployment presumed before research? How hard are today's youth searching, and how many jobs are slipping through their fingers because of the wrong jobs being given to under/over qualified professionals?
    There are expert opinions on why this generation is faced with difficulty on the job market, baby boomers not retiring, jobs being created in BRIC nations and leaving Canada, aging government systems and policies that are too inflexible to make relevant enough policy adaptions. But I think there are more micro-solutions available to solve the issue of youth unemployment. The first is a recommendation made by Kevin O'Leary (@kevinolearytv) on CBC television. Mr. O'Leary suggested that government subsidization of post-secondary education should be limited to those programs that have the ability to contribute back into the economy. It is not a bash against the arts, but those classes that have a low employment turn around rate: psychology, history, philosophy, literature...If those students had to pay full, unsubsidized tuition fees I am safe to assume they would take a more practical career path...electrical engineering anyone?

    There, of course is another more worrisome trend that I've found since I've been here at school, and anyone reading this studying in post-secondary is most likely one of those I'm talking about: those of you who have chosen a program, are either beginning or ending it, and have never even bothered to think about what you will do for work. This is by far the largest percentage of people I have met, and there is no excuse for it. Just like parents don't exist to be safety nets, jobs don't exist to be handed out without any resistance. It takes time to build a professional network, see where you need specialize, and see who is hiring not today, but in 1,2,10 years when you're going to be on the market. To all those students in development who haven't researched their field I have some good links for potential work, and if you can't be bothered to check job sites, you can't be bothered to work. So lets try to end this jobless curse, work hard like our parents have, get jobs, and continue to make Canada and the world better places.

Bartlett, S. (Director), & LeRose, M. (Director) (2012). Generation Jobless. Available from Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Applicable Learning Experience

     University is often criticized for being too based on theory without any practical skill sets being developed. I often feel that this is true and we need to remember as future development practitioners that we will need tenable experience to be used by NGO's, governments, firms, or even as entrepreneurs. I've recently written a paper detailing the aspects of a development project that has recently been completed, analyzing how it has used development tools, LogFrames, economic and statistical models, built educational institutes, and fostered the growth of civil society. It is a combined African Development Fund / African Development Bank project, took the environment, citizens, and vulnerable peoples into consideration and appears to have achieved its goal of alleviating poverty (46%-40%). The project, is a 200km road in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. After studying the facets of the project in detail I've become more aware of what I can and cannot do, and feel all the wiser because of it.

     Before we consider the flaws of the many large regional institutions, we need to realize what skills we have to bring to the table. Do we want to fly across the world to 'help' dig boreholes or build schools we aren't trained to build; or do we want to contribute to projects that have concrete results in lower poverty rates? I'm not suggesting we all lace up our dress shoes and apply at regional banks to act as a consultants, but I do believe we must work where our skills can be used best, and where we can learn from experienced practitioners. I personally know where I will be able to apply my skills best and how I want an organization to train me; it is something that has been gained through experience and everyone will be at that stage eventually. While we don't have professional development classes, we have tools at our fingertips to provide us with information about what it is really like in the development world. Speak to your development professors who have years of experience and can tell you about their successes and mistakes: this is where the real strength of our program lays.

    We all cannot build roads by ourselves, nor can we build schools or provide advanced agricultural assistance, but we can learn from those around us and in a (hopefully) short period of time will be able to understand the many aspects of a project or program. Where are your strengths? if you don't know yet, don't be worried; it'll come to you. How do you want to be used? I suggest just make sure you get used in such a way that you gain maximum benefit.


African Development Fund, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport through the Public
Works Department (DTP). (2009). Project Completion Report (PCR)

Bendjebbour, A. World Bank. Africa Development Fund. Mauritania Trans Maghreb
road project: Akjoujt-Atar
: 2000. Print.

Traore, B., Leke, M., Joottun, L., & Nzau-Mutetea, G. K. Infrastructure Department,
Central and West Regions. (2003). Appraisal report: Rosso boghe road
construction project
. Islamic Republic of Mauritania: African Development Fund.

Sunday, 10 March 2013


In light of tomorrow's class that will give details of what fundraising plans will be developed for the upcoming summer and spring prior to your placements, I would like to suggest an idea that I've been developing over the past couple of weeks. The success of last year's Global Gala ( had me thinking, how could this event be made even more successful?

       After volunteering with CIGI (Centre for International Governance Innovation), a think tank based in uptown Waterloo I found out about the excellent facilities they have. These include a lecture hall/ theater, courtyard, and ultra-modern campus at the CIGI Campus, a separate entity of the think tank itself. I believe that with the wealth of knowledge and amount of experts in the area INDEVOURS could host lectures or panel discussions with local development experts prior or after the Global Gala, to provide an informative and lively discussion to help our families, friends, and the general public understand the importance of our placements. If we decide to choose an off-campus location arguable the nicest theatre in the city is only 5 minutes away, The CIGI Campus Auditorium. The campus' website describes the theatre as
  "a high-end venue in the heart of Waterloo available to non-profit organizations, community groups and businesses for meetings and events."                               (
 The CIGI Campus Auditorium

      By holding an informative discussion panel we will both raise awareness of development issues, of INDEVOURS, and as a bonus, I believe we also will have the ability to raise additional funds. If the space could be used for free or at a low cost, we could make donations voluntary or at a low amount, and be sure to sell tickets to the Global Gala or any other events we decide upon. As for the location, I feel we could even hold smaller more intimate discussions at cafes around the city willing to lend us their space for an evening (they would gain promotion and people will spend while there). Some suggestions could be at the Yeti Cafe, a personal acquaintance of mine who owns it already said she would seriously consider it ( Let me know what you think, is this tangible? Too far away from what we want to do? Too complex to plan?

Friday, 8 March 2013

Course Satisfaction Surveys

I'm not sure about anyone else, but I received an email asking my opinion on the indev program. It won't be perfect science, but I assume that most students either disregard the surveys or give all good reviews to be nice. If this is the case, those students are committing a great injustice to themselves and their peers.
This young program requires all of us students to act as monitors, and implement what we know is best academic practice; and correct what is not. When answering them we must be sure to not let our feelings interfere, it surely would only take away credibility and integrity. A strong set of impartial reviews will only better the program, and better future cohorts' learning experience, to ensure they get the best possible education for the immense amounts of money spent to get a continually undervalued degree thanks to university profit lines constantly getting tighter.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Quote of the day

"Lying can get you a wife, but it won't let you keep her"

Proverb from Cameroon

Continuity in the role of the INDEVOUR's

A class I am currently enrolled in, INDEV 303: Theory and Practice of Marketing and Communication for Development, is both an introduction to marketing practices and an introduction to INDEVOURS.

       INDEVOURS (see page for full organization description) by its very nature is an annual affair, with students raising funds over the summer to support their upcoming international development placement in the fall. This is where I come in. As a second year student in a third year class, I won't be participating in fundraising directly during the summer, nor will I be going anywhere other than to and from the UW campus and my apartment in Kitchener in the fall of 2013. At first, I assumed this was a massive disadvantage, then realized the advantage to INDEVOURS my unique situation could provide.

      Having experience fundraising in the past (MSF, Public Outreach, United Way Renfrew Country), I have seen the difficulties presented with garnering continuous funding - and those difficulties were present with well-known organizations, let alone a small group of university students in a city already flooded with university organizations looking for support. Part of this difficulty may arise from a lack of continuity: only 16 weeks see massive promotion, and if donors aren't thinking of INDEVOURS, they won't be donating to INDEVOURS. Some fundraising events may take longer than 16 weeks to plan and advertise, and perhaps because I will be familiar with what some of the 2014 cohorts' goals are, I can pass the information and planning tools onto my own cohort of 2015. I say we start brainstorming for the long-term, plan a year ahead, and workout a system to bridge the gap that exists between cohorts.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

TED Talks

Thought it would be cool to see what everyone in 303 thinks of this article from the BBC that talks about "the cult of TED". I agree. Where does everyone stand? Cult follower, participant, or outsider?

We.Will.Now = Local Change Agents

I got introduced to this NGO based out of Toronto through LinkedIn the other day, and they're definitely on to something. The founder, Mellonie is a medical student in Toronto and wanted to take part in helping disadvantaged youth here in Canada by using international development as a vehicle. WWN focuses on providing English teaching classes free of charge to youth in the GTA and then assists them in going overseas to teach! I believe this is the only organization in Ontario that does something like this, and I think it's powerful for several reasons. This program has the ability to show someone here in Canada who has never had an opportunity to leave the country what the world is like in other developing or developed countries. In a city as diverse as Toronto it is easy for different degrees of social segregation to take place, and a program like this really fights stereotyping.

After exchanging emails with Mellonie I've realized there is less I can do to get involved but I feel that this is something other development students who live in the GTA over the summer may be interested in. They have a blog setup under the name, it details what they do and ways to get involved, if anyone is interested. As well If you have an account setup on LinkedIn I could recommend you! focusing on development here in Canada as well as abroad provides us, I believe, with some solid footing before traveling around the world. If we don't know what poverty looks like in our own backyards, it'll be hard to identify ina foreign country.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Quote of the day

"Lying can get you a wife, but it won't let you keep her"

Proverb from Cameroon

Monday, 21 January 2013

Proverb of the day

Today’s #proverb from Nigeria: The lizard that jumped from the high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no-one else did

Thanks to: @BBCAfrica

Monday, 14 January 2013

What's In a Name?

On Development Language

Like in all fields and trades, international development is no exception in being specific in its language use. Any form of development can perhaps be considered a form of progress, a success measured by a positively changed state of being from a less desirable one. ProgressiveSouth will be an ever-evolving entity in itself, beginning here, in the North. To measure profit by not only fiscal, but by social gain, to seek progression without loss, teach others in the process and of course and to learn the entire time, from peers, mentors, friends and all those met along the road to progress. 

This poem was introduced to me by Dr. Simron Singh at the University of Waterloo, and it speaks for itself.

The Development Set
by Ross Coggins
Excuse me, friends, I must catch my jet
I’m off to join the Development Set;
My bags are packed, and I’ve had all my shots
I have traveller’s checks and pills for the trots!
The Development Set is bright and noble
Our thoughts are deep and our vision global;
Although we move with the better classes
Our thoughts are always with the masses.
In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We damn multi-national corporations;
injustice seems easy to protest
In such seething hotbeds of social rest.
We discuss malnutrition over steaks
And plan hunger talks during coffee breaks.
Whether Asian floods or African drought,
We face each issue with open mouth.
We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
Raises difficulties for every solution –
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting.
The language of the Development Set
Stretches the English alphabet;
We use swell words like “epigenetic”
“Micro”, “macro”, and “logarithmetic”
It pleasures us to be esoteric –
It’s so intellectually atmospheric!
And although establishments may be unmoved,
Our vocabularies are much improved.
When the talk gets deep and you’re feeling numb,
You can keep your shame to a minimum:
To show that you, too, are intelligent
Smugly ask, “Is it really development?”
Or say, “That’s fine in practice, but don’t you see:
It doesn’t work out in theory!”
A few may find this incomprehensible,
But most will admire you as deep and sensible.
Development set homes are extremely chic,
Full of carvings, curios, and draped with batik.
Eye-level photographs subtly assure
That your host is at home with the great and the poor.
Enough of these verses – on with the mission!
Our task is as broad as the human condition!
Just pray god the biblical promise is true:
The poor ye shall always have with you.
Adult Education and Development” September 1976