Thursday, March 16, 2006

A positive approach to problem solving

Thanks a lot Peter Metcalfe,
We had a good session with you this afternoon and I really appreciate the discussion we had after your presentation. Many people could say the same things but from very different standpoints.

The thing that will always make me remember of this session is ‘A positive approach to problem solving’. That was fabulous. I personally share Peter’s view that a 10ml glass containing 5ml is not half empty but half full. I felt comforted in my way of approaching life. I also think that this might be helpful when thinking on prospects of development in Africa. We do not need the all continent to share the same approach to see things starting to change; we simply need to act as far as one is concerned. We already have the NEPAD vision even if NEPAD secretariat seems no fully involved in the vision it is supposed to serve.

In the same line, I share Peter’s contention that we rather create growth than alleviate poverty. The issue, however, is that our educational system is set in such a way that there are themes, standard words and concepts to define certain things. As one can read from my profile, one of my areas of interest is ‘Poverty alleviation’. This is a world-known and -used theme. In the US and UK, certain universities are offering postgraduate degrees in ‘Poverty alleviation’ with an impressive curriculum. An institution such as the World Bank has as motto ‘poverty alleviation’.

Nowadays, poverty alleviation tends to be an area of focus for many governments in the South. Just look at national policies, they are all aimed at ‘reducing poverty’. So far about 70 countries in the South are involved in the World Bank-IMF Poverty Reduction Strategy ‘PRS’ and they all design national policies that accommodate such a vision. To day we talk of the Milleniun Development Goals (MDG) with poverty alleviation at the forefront.

By the fact that ‘poverty alleviation’ is in vogue not only in development institutions but also as commonly adopted in the development mainstream and popular language, one can not easily reverse the trend. Moreover, we end up saying the same thing. Peter's argument of ‘let’s create growth and prosperity’ does not seem so different from World Bank strategy of ‘Building the climate for investment, jobs, and sustainable growth’ nor does it differ from the Bank’s argument going that ‘growth is good for the poor’. It all becomes semantic. Maybe I need to engage more with Peter’s strategy and look at the implementation side…anyway, thank you Peter, your presentation was great.


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