Sunday, February 14, 2010

Madonna's Malawi Girls' School: Is this how we help?

The BBC reported Friday that the 200+ villagers in Malawi set to be displaced by Madonna's new school have ended their protest and agreed to move.  Madonna's planned Raising Malawi Academy for Girls can now move forward.

Look, I'm all for empowering women in developing countries through education, but something about this whole thing strikes me as icky.  Madonna thinks what they really need on that land is a school; the people that live there think that what they need is to, well, live there.  Madonna has the money, so she gets to make the call.  But if she's doing this in the name in the name of philanthropy, shouldn't the preferences of the local people come first?  Couldn't she have negotiated with village leaders to find the most appropriate site for the school, that would displace the fewest people?  To me, this feels like vanity aid, which is the last thing developing countries need.

Madonna's money might have been better spent on a preexisting educational charity with local connections, but then she might have gotten less of a reputation boost, I suppose.

[Hat tip to the Msungu Malawian]

1 comment:

  1. i don't think she did it for a reputation boost. i think she did it because her previous adoption was so controversial, she prob cut a deal to build a school if they let her adopt the child without going through normal hoops. it wouldn't surprise me if it was the government's choice for the location just so they could displace those people, who are probably squatters on government land- pretty typical of the third world (just google it)


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