Pay me Train Me

The prospect of an income is a very important motivator to many people the world over. It is even more so when you’re living from hand to mouth and every day absolutely counts. Every morning is a vicious struggle to make ends meet or at least avoid this or that tragedy.  Such is the life of most poor people in the sub Saharan Africa.

One such typical area full of the poor is coastal Kenya. The coastal region of Kenya has a range of socio-political and economic problems that have undermined development for a very long time. They include widespread poverty, combined with a very high degree of inequity; Extensive alienation of land that makes it difficult or even impossible for considerable parts of the local population to gain access to land; and a persistent feeling of being politically marginalized in post-independence Kenya.

Development actors have been excited by the many development issues and mostly, the incessant demands for such by the people.  As a result, many have initiated a variety of interventions over time all geared towards alleviation of poverty, boosting security, removing hunger from this and that place, education promotion and the list goes on.

One important aspect of conducting a development project in coast is that it sometimes does not make sense. You have to pay people to attend your training sessions for instance. You both pay them and reimburse their fare or they won’t show up next time. That speaks a lot about how much the people value your training. It is also a wonder whether the same people asked for the training.

Yet it is true, they ask for the training and even evidently need it. But they can’t afford to attend if you don’t give them something small at the end of the talk. You just have to pray that that is not all that brought them.

What if your project is meant to better your would-be beneficiaries’ own businesses? In this case, perhaps they can just count the two or three hours as their own working hours. They can evaluate them based on whether their Return on Investment (RoI) is good enough. I believe such a project would do well to crunch numbers for the would-be beneficiaries like an investment advisor would. This should clearly explain why investing three hours to attend training is a sound and economically viable decision.

If this is accorded as much seriousness and emphasis as it should be, most development actions, especially those “whole value chain model” types, will go a long way in actually transforming the lives of the poor and having a lasting impact.


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