Category Archives: UK

White Shadow review (in the Guardian): a brutal, honest portrayal of Tanzanian albinism

Alias is the young albino boy who lives in fear of his life. Photograph: White Shadow /Pressshot

Alias is the young albino boy who lives in fear of his life. Photograph: White Shadow /Pressshot

This review was originally published by the (UK) Guardian Africa Network on March 19, 2015.

White Shadow, released this week in the UK tells the story of a teenage Tanzanian boy with albinism, Alias, who lives in constant fear of his life.

The film, by German director Noaz Deshe, tells a fictional story informed by the situation facing Tanzania’s albino population today.

At least 75 people with albinism have been killed in Tanzania since 2000, with many suffering violent attacks. A belief that albino body parts can be used to bring good fortune has been a key factor in fuelling the violence. Continue reading

Aid traceability is a worthy goal, but it will take some time

Cross posted from the blog of the UK-based aid transparency campaign organisation, Publish What You Fund. The original was published on October 20th. 


 


“We will require organisations receiving and managing funds from DFID to release open data on how this money is spent in a common, standard, reusable format. They will need to require this of sub-contractors and sub-agencies – right through the aid chain.”

That was Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, speaking in 2012 on DFID’s commitment to transparency.

The UK’s latest Open Government Partnership Action Plan put a date on this, committing DFID to “a requirement of IATI publication by the end of 2015 for all implementing partners.”

The goal is traceability: for British taxpayers to be able to track the flow of funds from DFID in London to a handpump in rural Tanzania or a primary school in Nepal, even where the funds pass through several different organisations on the way. The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and DFID’s Development Tracker website are the means to achieve this. Continue reading

Scotland and Zanzibar, more union questions

Tanzania’s more internationally-minded political thinkers watched Scotland’s Independence Referendum last week with much interest. The question on everyone’s lips was this: what does the decision made by Scottish voters to remain part of the United Kingdom mean for Zanzibar and the United Republic?

It is a reasonable question, because the similarities between Scotland’s relationship with England / the UK and Zanzibar’s relationship with Tanzania mainland are strong. The two smaller, once-independent nations both have understandable resentment towards the bigger, dominant partner in their unions. Constitutional oddities mean neither England nor Mainland Tanzania have their own parliament, while Scotland has a parliament and Zanzibar has a “revolutionary council”. There are oil and gas revenues to argue over in both cases, and endless disputes about who is subsidising who. And Britain’s relationship with the European Union is not that different from Tanzania’s uncertainty about the East African Community.

But though the question may be valid, the answers have been very mixed. Continue reading

Does the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) apply to Tanzanian NGOs?

IATI cartoon

Twaweza published its first set of IATI data last week. By doing so, Twaweza joined 276 other organisations sharing data on their work in a common standard. And since doing so, I’ve been asked several times why we have done this: isn’t IATI something for official aid agencies like DFID and USAID, and for the bigger international NGOs? Continue reading

Freedom of Information on DFID’s role in BAE Project in Tanzania? Bado

image from http://www.parentalguide.org/article-family-road-trip.html

image from http://www.parentalguide.org/article-family-road-trip.html

I submitted a Freedom of Information request with the Department for International Development (DFID) last month. I’m asking for the Memorandum of Understanding between DFID, the Government of Tanzania, the Serious Fraud Office and BAE Systems, and related budget details. (See here and here for some background).

The government legally has to respond within 20 days – the deadline is tomorrow.  Continue reading

Zanzibar acid attack: UK media not letting the facts get in the way of a story

Mail online 110813

Mail online 110813

The UK media is unsurprisingly following up closely on the story of the two teenage British girls who suffered a horrific attack in Stone Town, Zanzibar. But in their haste to get a good story, and in a situation where the known facts are few, they are making some serious errors.

Yesterday, according to some reports in the Tanzanian media, Sheikh Ponda, a radical Zanzibari cleric, was shot and injured in the town of Morogoro. Some are saying it was the police who shot him, some that unsuccessful attempts were made by the police to arrest him. Other media outlets dispute these “facts”, claiming that he is now in hospital. Overall, and to their credit, the Tanzanian press appears to be responding to uncertainty with caution: being noticeably transparent about facts that are unclear.

What’s more, none (that I have seen) has linked Sheikh Ponda or this reported shooting / attempted arrest to the Zanzibar acid attack.

But look at how the UK media has covered the same story. Continue reading

Opening aid, but in the wrong direction

Cartoon adapted from HakiElimu, 2005

Cartoon adapted from HakiElimu, 2005

Making aid more accountable is a worthy goal. So is building support for public spending on international aid among citizens of donor countries. But a new proposal with precisely these goals in mind risks disempowering the very people aid is supposed to help.

The proposal, which goes by the title Opening Aid Policy, is to give British citizens – call them taxpayers or voters if you prefer – a chance to shape British aid policy: first to determine aid priorities and then even to cast their vote on which specific projects should get funded.  Continue reading