One develops technology instead of transfering it since there is
always a strong relationship between development of technology and culture. On
the past a lot of emphasis was put on the transfer of technology
rather than on the development of technology in discussions about
appropriate technology (Swantz 1989). We need to change the emphasis now if we
want the developing countries to benefit from the technology.
The master of technology has power, and as long as most women do
not possess that mastery they lack control of their own affairs and
the development process at large (Stamp 1989: Meghji 1977). Women in the
informal sector, like their colleagues in the agricultural and industrial
sectors, use very inferior or outdated technologies which affect their
productivity negatively. The oxenization revolution in rural agriculture is a
step forward in helping women to control their productive forces.
It is said that in the informal sector, women have been
helped with improved technology in their traditional areas. But
these technologies are within the 5ks syndrome we discussed earlier. But even in
this area, very often the new technology has been dependent on external
suppliers and funders for sustainability. This has either been attached to
foreign aid, which unfortunately works against the development of the people
(Meena 1984) or has to depend on the local foreign exchange allocation system.
It is estimated that about 20-30 percent of all aid sent to Africa is given
under technical assistance which in the long run returns to the
pockets of the Lords of Poverty (Sunday Nation July 29, 1990:7).
It is most unfortunate that some international agencies supply
outdated technology to the developing countries because they are poor and they
need help. As illustrated below, this does not affect the womens projects
alone but affects other areas of technological development as well. It has
recently been reported that through their aid packages, the donor agencies dump
outdated equipments in Third World countries. For instance about 35 percent of
the laboratory equipment sent to SADCC countries are not working (Daily News
November 1, 1990) either due to lack of spare parts or are outdated and the
manufacturers are no longer producing them.
In the case of womens activities in the country, one
international agency sent outdated flour mill machines to Mbeya region in the
late 1980s. Their experts were sent there to fix them but the machines
didnt work when tested. Blames were thrown from left and right, and
peasants who knew nothing about such machines were also included in the blames.
Then the same agency hired a local female engineer consultant who discovered
that the machines were outdated and some of its parts were not provided.
Certainly, the supplier knew about this but dumped the machines to the needy and
poor women of Tanzania.
The internationalization of poverty takes many forms. Women who
are the majority of the poor in the developing countries, are the target of the
international assistance as said above. This is now more pronounced in Tanzania
than before due to the surge of privatization and the support of informal groups
in economic activities as an alternative strategy to state controlled economy
which we have had for the past 18 years. My own conclusion is that by using
women, we may enter into a destabilization process rather than a development
process. Many of the programmes and projects designed for womens
development are remedial in nature and not developmental when informal economic
activity carried out by women should be developmental. Dishing out monies in the
name of assisting the poor women without relating such assistance to the
miserable social conditions in which these women live is nothing but enhancing
the underdevelopment process.
Babbs (1989) book on market women in Peru offers a good
example of how the economic situation of the women in the informal business has
declined over the last ten years inspite of their participation in this sector.
I foresee that unless the root causes that have forced Tanzanian women to be
involved in the informal business sector as a strategy for survival are
eliminated, funds spent on the projects and programmes of women in the informal
sector, will just be wasted. Then blames will be thrown to the women again.
Already some of the womens groups involved in informal businesses in Dar
es Salaam have shown some disappointing results. Research has shown that these
women merely subsist and do not really make big money or get out of the poverty
trap. As long as the real income at household declines every year, informal
business will not improve the wellbeing of the families. Instead the financial
assistance will perpetuate