Ever feel like giving aid to developing countries is a bit elitist, paternalistic, or corrupt? Research says you may be right. What would global aid look like if it was more humble and egalitarian? Doga Makiura set out to discover just that.
Makiura is from Tokyo, and at 13 he went to study in London because he wanted to be around a more diverse group of people. After high school, he took a year off and went to Rwanda to work on a project that would empower 1.2 million people living in poverty. His motivation: “Rather than just helping them out, I wanted to go and work with them together as equals, as business partners.”
Working with a friend who ran a similar project in Bangladesh called e-Education, Makiura started producing DVDs of chemistry experiments to allow Rwandan students to learn experiments from any location. Results were encouraging: “In 2013, national exam results in chemistry increased by an average of 46% in 5 rural schools with over 700 students using DVDs from e-Education.”
Makiura hasn’t stopped there. He has gone on to work on the food supply and distribution issues in Rwanda in response to the influx of refugees from Congo:
“So I became a middleman, coordinating with agricultural cooperatives in Rwanda to understand how much surplus each cooperative or farm has, and finding out how much food the UNHCR was needing where. I went to the farms with a truck, purchased their surplus crop, and transported this food to the UNHCR refugees. The farmers now had extra income, and the refugees had more food. Win-win. The team I set up with the cooperatives work on this even when I’m not there.”
The next step for Makiura has been to connect smart-ag technology producers in Japan with Rwandan famers, allowing the information and communication technology (ICT) to improve food production efficiency in Rwanda. Another win-win.
The fundamental difference in Makiura’s approach to global aid is to look for ways to honor and value people in the developing world on equal terms with people in the developed world, and to discover and implement win-win solutions that benefit the developed and developing world. This creates collaborative relationships on equal terms instead of one-sided situations that create more separation. It sounds like the future of global aid, perhaps better phrased “global collaboration,” is finally here!
Source: TED Blog
Image credit: schacon via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution