Written by Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, Director or African Monitor and Mwangi Waituru, Co-Chair of Beyond 2015.
It is essential that Africa begins to tell its own story about the development it wants to see in Africa and globally post 2015. There is no better source of this story than the perspectives, experiences and aspirations of ordinary citizens. This framework is a consolidation of perspectives of ordinary people that were expressed through a series of poverty hearings conducted by the African Monitor, The Global Call to Action Against Poverty, the Seed Institute.The hearings were conducted in Liberia, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya and Southern Africa. During the hearings, panels of eminent persons listened to testimonials of people’s experiences with poverty; testimonials that were presented with dignity and honour.
When grassroots communities described their lived realities, it became apparent to the poverty hearings’ teams that the development they envision is not the same as the development the majority of the world imagines the poor want. In their own narrative, the strongest message from communities is a deep desire for the capability to function. Such a capability to function, as evident from data attained through peoples’ first hand testimonials, was sought for the sole purpose of reclaiming the power to effect decisions that affect their lives; access to equal opportunities; and an enabling environment to sustain livelihoods.
Brought to bear on the post-2015 development agenda, this evidence means that whatever the framework is agreed upon, poor people of Africa want it to be geared towards achieving a singular and critical purpose, i.e. to increase the capability to function at the level of grass-roots communities. The vision that people want Africa, and indeed the global community to aspire to, is an Africa where citizens have the power to effect decisions that affect their lives (which requires democratic governance and accountability); have access to equal opportunities (across class, gender, religion, taking into consideration vulnerable and excluded groups); and enjoy an enabling environment to sustain their livelihoods.
In talking about the future they want, people presented a catalogue of critical blockages standing between them and the aspired capacity to function. This catalogue ranged from vulnerabilties, exclusion, descriminations, corruption, insecurity and crime, inadequate skills and lack of opportunities to own assets. Unlocking the African moment requires removal of these blockages.
Similarly, the testimonials were very clear about what some of the enablers people require. They include access to information, meaningful participation, quality education & training, access to grassroots focussed infrastructure, quality health care, access to productive assets, food security and other social services.
It is important to note that both the enablers and blockages (which are not conclusive) are a composite package that requires a holistic delivery approach. On their own, individual enablers can not produce the desired effect; it is the interplay of the various componets that compound into the enabler and or unlock a blockage. In other words, focussing on one aspect will not achieve the desired results.
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