TedxDar 2010 – Rakesh Rajani on Development

Lunch is over and up on the stage comes Mr. Rakesh Rajani, formerly of Haki Elimu, and now the head of Twaweza.

Here is his story of Development in our country.

He begins by telling us that there are two narratives going on in Tanzania. One story is depressing, rooted in the question, are development efforts making a difference? For example, the number one issue at the forefront of people’s minds in this country is water (and not corruption as our newspapers would make you believe). Water is not available for most Tanzanians. We have, across our country swanky new buldings, housing schools and clinics. But on the flipside, sanitation in these buildings remains very old.

There are newly built school buildings but they are worse than older ones. Actual funding in education does not reflect the proposed budgetary allocation. There are few books, but most are locked up, no functional libraries. Less than 1/4 of of our students pass maths and reading.

We have veneers and pretensions of progress. We go through the performance of development but little, actual development. As a result people have lost faiths in those very same institutions that are meant to bring about change to their lives.

But TZ is not one nation. It’s made up of a lot of multiple narratives.

Take the story of Hamisi in Mpunze village. He was told he was poor and apparently grew cotton and it seemed like that’s how he made his living. He made Tshs/ 300,000 per month and at the end his profit was Tshs/ 180,000. But, it turned out, on the lowdown, he also grew tobacco and rice. He was also a cattle keeper. He was selling beer during football matches. The woman of the house was, secretly, a shop-keeper. Why were they being so secretive? The answer was to avoid the hassle of village officials.

These two narratives beg these two fundamental questions: where is indeed the power in this country and where does the future lie? Often, the focus goes on the formal side of development. There you will find a story of corruption, mis-management and a lack of imagination. Not for a moment would you believe that this is where change will come.

On the other hand, the informal side is where there is real dynamism for change. Its not about donors, its about imaginations, about how to truly bring about change. It’s imagination that will make Tanzanians fly.


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