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Holidaying for under-aged Development Geeks

I know! I have been away for some time. Been too busy to communicate to you my thoughts

Well you shouldn’t blame me too much. First, its summer so I have been extra busy, reading writing and putting my life in some form of order. Also, don’t forget that I am also working and we have had a lot of work to do at the World Youth Alliance. I should just tell you about a few of the things I have been up to lately. I have been….

1. Reading certain very important works on international development especially on the subject of good governance, democracy and the like. The two books I am reading concurrently (I know this is crazy but this was how I learnt to read) are War, Guns and Votes by Paul Collier and One Economics by Dani Roodrik. I have learnt a lot from the educated insights of these two men and I would strongly recommend these books to people who are really interested in development. I must note however (being the trouble maker that I am) that Colliers misinterpretes certain aspects of Nigeria’s last elections. For example, he states somewhere in the book that Nasir El Rufai contested elections in Abuja and lost. Well, that never happened.

2. Reading awful and wonderful articles about International Development and Foriegn Policy. I’ll be direct. My worst article about international development over these past two weeks was Nicholas Kristof’s article on maternal mortality. Now before I get attacked or misunderstood by the good readers of this blog. Let me clarify in as few words as possible and then probably write a rebuttal if you rile me up enough. I have been very much interested in Maternal mortality so I have researched it a lot about it. I hated that Nicholas Kristof tried to make the victims family the culprit when the blame should rightly have gone to the UNFPA which has collected about 900 million dollars from donors but still has the worst performing MDG as the one it is responsible for. i.e Maternal Mortality. Kristof’s argument that the family would have earthed out 300 rupees if the baby was a boy hardly hits at the home run issue which is that even the local clinic should have skilled birth attendants who can be easily trained to deal with birth complications. People should have  a right to give birth whereever they wish and still have the appropriate resources available to the,. End of short rant.  My best article was on Jay Z and foreign policy in America. It really has nothing to do with development though. However, let me state my biases. Ether is my favorite rap song ever! (Warning: Explicit content)

3. Working on a personal project called the Cheetah Fund. You follow this blog so you deserve a sneak peek. So I suddenly decided that I was tired of “talking” about development and I was going to do something about what I think are the root problems in development: Lack of Education and encouragement for young entrepreneurs. So the Cheetah Fund, inspired by themes from Africa Unchained by George Ayitteh will basically try to solve both porblems. It will be a micro-credit club  replicated in local schools in development countries for youth between the ages of 16-21. Basically, the kids will be loaned some money to buy shares in companies and then they will be asked to formulate a business plan that will enable them repay the loan (without interest, I’m not gonna go all MFI on kids), make some profit. In the program, they would be given occasional guidance by successful business people in these countries on best practices in business. They would also have to learn about best practices in international development. At the end of the program, they will have to decide which development project to spend 20% of their profits on. The program will be run as a competition amongst these local schools and the winners will be presented with the opportunity to have summer internships with Fortune 500 companies in New York. Its a lot of work and I know we’ll have to start out small and all but I think I’m prepared to face the challenges. Its still in the pipes anyways..so no frets.

4. Finally, I have been monitoring some really importnat debates at the UN where I work for the World Youth Alliance. One of the many sessions I have been monitoring is the UN’s CEDAW review session where I have been learning a lot about the state of women all around the world and what more needs to be done to ensure that discrimination against women is brought to an end. It has been interesting and perhaps it would form the butt of a post on this blog one of these days. The most I can say now is that from what I have heard women in Liberia have it really rough especially with FGM and rural women especially elderly rural women, bear the brunt of discrimination against women in most developing countries. I also monitored the Responsibility to Protect Debate at the UN. Bill Easterly read my mind on this one. He just missed the point about the reform of the security council which I point out here.

5. Having fun. I have been having over different high school friends studying in other parts of America visit me here in New York. I have been forced to resort to “touristy stuff” like visiting Time Square, taking pictures of everything and riding the Staten Island ferry. And yea, parties…never forget the parties!

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