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Rainy season has started and the streets flood with every rain.

Luckily, for work, we haven’t had to move that much outside, and have been focusing mostly on high level meetings with other UN agencies. We (UNICEF) are in the midst of planning for a “One UN” project called UNDAP (UN Development Assistance Plan).  Without boring you with the details, it is where all the UN agencies are beginning to make one big country plan together where there is a division of labour of activities in key sectors. This differs from before, as every single agency would submit their own plans to the government and each agency did not communicate to each other what these plans and activities were. To just give you an idea of what this means, for example, UNICEF submits over 30-35 work plans that need to be signed by the government (and were originally planned with the government), times that by the 19 other UN agencies in Tanzania, and that means there are over 300 work plans that the government has to sign from just the UN.  I am sure it is not that many, but if you think about all the activities, costs, plans, time that is overlapping, this new plan could potentially be more efficient and save a lot of time and money. Believe it or not, Tanzania is one of the first countries in the world to pilot this project.

Now, that was an extreme over simplification of what is happening, but it gives you the main idea.  For more information, look here and here.

Although this is incredibly interesting process, this also means now a lot of meetings which can really be daunting.  It is hard to find time in the day to even write emails.

As for my personal life, I was also able to travel to Moshi again for Easter. It was an amazing experience as I was able to live with Selina and her family for almost a week.  I can’t even begin to tell you about the experience, as it would flood into pages and pages…  but, I can provide a few pictures and captions:


Because I am feeling particularly generous today, I thought I would post some of the job sites I use when I’m searching for international development jobs.

My favourites

In Canada

Others I peruse from time to time

Organizations I often check for updates (these link straight to the “careers” page)

I also often check country offices (for example, UNDP Tanzania Country Office or OXFAM Tanzania Country Office) for updates. Sometimes they have more job listings you won’t find anywhere else, in the place you want to work.

I also just recently joined a job sharing google group that a few of my former classmates from the University of Ottawa created. Feel free to join! It’s open to all.
Other links you might like
And, although I have come to realize people are generally not so good about sharing job resources, please let me know if there are any other job sites you use. Remember, all of us have different backgrounds and experience and probably aren’t trying to get the same jobs. And if you are and are more qualified, you should get it.  I have no qualms about that!

My sister just sent me a clip of a 9 year old boy from Tanzanian re-enacting his favourite movie, the 1980s Schwarzenegger film called Commando.

The video is from an organization called Mama Hope who has created a “Stop the Pity. Unlock the Potential” campaign.  I think this is such a great idea, and a great step forward for western NGOs to move away from perpetuating the image that Africans are poor, sick and in dire need of Westerners help. This really hits home for me when I show people pictures back home of Dar es Salaam; a lot of people are completely shocked when they see that I live in a city with sky scrapers. Part of this, I know,  is because their only interaction with Africa is how western NGO’s/Bono/the News portray it: babies with swollen bellies and flies circling them, surrounded by war and infected with AIDS.  This might be a great tactic to get short term funding, but this also completely ignores the diversity that is the 54 countries 55 countries of Africa (for instance, the growing middle class) and is not so helpful for long term development/international cooperation across the continent (not to mention potential investor/business confidence).

More on Mama Hope:

Mama Hope is a California-based nonprofit “focused on building self-sufficient communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.” The organization teams up with locally-based organizations in those communities and invests in “high impact, cost effective projects that meet their fundamental needs for food, water, education and health care.”

More on the campaign, from Mama Hope’s organizers:

Take the word “Africa.” Without thinking, what images immediately come to mind? War? AIDS? Genocide? Or maybe the vision of a small child with a swollen belly, surrounded by flies? Too many non-profits ask for your pity by depicting poor, helpless Africans. But like any stereotype, this portrayal has more exceptions than truth.

Mama Hope feels it is time to re-humanize Africa and look to the positive change that is happening. We’ve had enough of the tragic impressions and abundance of sad, oppressive imagery that floods media outlets and non-profit campaigns. It’s time to stop they pity and unlock the potential.
Through a series of thought provoking videos we hope to break the negative perception of Africa. We want you to see the courage, wit and potential of an incredible culture, people, and continent.


If I were ever to tell you to donate to an organization, I would tell you to donate to this one.

Thank you Boing Boing‘s Xeni Jardin for blogging this.

HT Rachel Reichel

As some of you may have guessed, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to write more. I have definitely been neglecting this thing, but hopefully, now that the holidays are over I can get back into a routine.

During my vacation, I had the pleasure of hosting some friends who are CIDA interns in Malawi. On one occasion, we grabbed a two hour dala dala and headed north of Dar to the old German colonial capital city of East Africa, called Bagamoyo. It was amazing. Because Tanzania was a main coastal destination for incoming goods, explorers and missionaries, there is a lot of history here — a place where many journeys began and ended. Most famously, it was where David Livingtone’s body was carried (5,000 km) after his death, so that it could be returned back to London.

In the city there are old museums and the ruins of a mosque from the 13C. But the most interesting part for me, was at a catholic missionary museum; this is where I first heard of a Canadian explorer William Grant Stairs. I am sure, like me, you have never heard of him.  The museum has this picture of him (see below) and a small description of his journey with Henry Morton Stanley (yes, the infamous explorer Stanley) from the mouth of the Congo River to Bagamoyo in 1889.  Stairs was only 25, a recent graduate from the Royal Navy in Nova Scotia, and completing a 5000 km journey across Eastern Africa.

When I returned from our trip to Bagamoyo, I started to do some research on him.  The more I read about him, and the more I delved into his history… the clearer the picture I got of this dark and twisted man. A lot of the accounts start with his more admirable accomplishments, such as, his discovery of one source of the Nile, the Semliki River or that he was the first non-African to climb the Ruwenzoris (10,677 ft).

However, it then the brutality of his expedition starts to shine through. For instance, he was wounded in the chest on the trek by a poisonous dart when he was shot by locals who thought their expedition was a slave raiding party — they (his expedition) killed hundreds in return.

I found one book that has his journal from his second mission in the Congo, where he is hired under Leopold II of Belgium to take Kantanga (an area that was not falling easily under Belgium control).  The journal reads a lot like Heart of Darkness, where you have a man who seems eerily similar to Mr. Kurtz.  I think for those who liked the Heart of Darkness and  have interest in this period of history should take the time to read this (although maybe not for the faint of heart).

One excerpt that was very disheartening:

For those still reading… I read one story that makes the man seem absolutely frightening. In competition with Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company, Stairs expedition set out to sign a treaty with the infamous Msiri. Msiri was a Tanzanian who had been sent by his father to Katanga to gain access to copper and ivory supplies. In a series of events which I will not detail here, Msiri then took control of the area and became increasingly powerful. Two other expeditions to the region proved to be failures.  But this is where it gets gruesome:

After three days of negotiations without progress, Stairs gave Msiri an ultimatum to sign the treaty the next day, December 20, 1891. When Msiri did not appear, he sent his second-in-command, Captain Bodson to arrest Msiri, who stood his ground. Bodson shot him dead, and a fight broke out. The expedition took their wounded and Msiri’s body back to their camp where Stairs was waiting, and there they cut off Msiri’s head and hoisted it on a pole in plain view as a ‘barbaric lesson’ to his people. Some of the Garanganze were massacred by the expedition’s askaris, and most of the rest fled into the bush.

Oral histories of the Garanganze people say that the expedition kept Msiri’s head – by some accounts in a can of kerosene – but it cursed and killed everyone who carried it and eventually, this included Stairs.He was ill with malaria throughout January 1892. After being relieved by another expedition, the Stairs Expedition set out on the long return journey to Zanzibar. Stairs was frequently sick but by May 1891 had recovered. On a steamer down the lower Zambezi he had another attack of malaria which killed him on June 9, 1892. He is buried in the European Cemetery in Chinde, Mozambique at the mouth of the Zambezi River.

It makes me wonder why he is commemorated at the Royal Military College of Canada and St. George’s Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario and in Rochester Cathedral near Chatham, England or why they named Stairs Island, in Parry Sound, Ontario after him.

In Tanzania:

Around the continent:


Much like Texas in Africa’s this & that, I thought I would do a section on news and blog posts  that I found interesting and you might find interesting.

In Tanzania:

  • Tanzania gets a massive grant to fight HIV&AIDS, Malaria and TB.
  • Tanzania citizens are urged to buy locally.
  • Somewhat old news, but Tanzania approved a $480 million dollar road that cuts through the Serengeti. Some good posts on the cons, but no one is really telling the other side of the story in an indepth way.  There is potential for economic development in the region with the building of this highway and the fixing of old roads (which seems significant, as these area lacks the ability to efficiently sell their crops and other goods to major markets).  Not to say I don’t think it is bad, but the story has to be more complicated than they make it out to be. Maybe the alternative route will go through, and this won’t matter.

Other places around the continent:

The world:

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