Cover Image
close this bookWomen in Informal Sector (Dar Es Salaam University Press, 1995, 46 p.)
View the documentLords of Poverty
View the documentInappropriate Technology

Lords of Poverty

One of the current phenomenon in the world is the great response by the international community to help women in development (Book 1985, Dines 1977). Thus, projects, programmes, consultations, workshops/seminars, conferences and even special quarter system in development, have been applied to mount pressure on various governments and local communities to take women’s issues in development seriously (Swantz 1987).

One of the areas which the international community has been assisting is the women’s informal business. That is why the international financial institutions as well as UN agencies have come out in support of women’s informal activities in the developing countries. In the process of strengthening this move, most of the international organizations have developed (created) experts in women development. These are very often sent out to developing countries either as consultants (flying consultants) or resident experts (expert expatriates) in the context of foreign aid.

Hancock (1989), analyzing the social relation between these “flying experts” or “suitcase consultants” to the local communities, has called them “The loards of poverty.” These are people who work among the poor but the gap that exists between them and the masses they are supposed to serve is so great. Their income is in six figures and tax free while that of the local people is in three figures. It is estimated that in Africa we have about 80,000 of these lords of poverty who use about 4bn dollars for their upkeep in the continent (Sunday Nation, July 29:1990:7).

Poor nations have become bureaux for the employment of either unemployed people in the developed countries or those who want to get experience in developing countries and then return home as experts of those areas where they worked. These experts display power relations and even some superiority complexes in such a way that they negate all what is said they want to achieve: to help the poor. The expatriate experts design projects and programmes according to their liking and experiences, which often times prove to be inappropriate to the local people. The so called “helpers” or “development promoters” become the lords of poverty. How good is it to come from an affluent society and try to manage and control poverty in developing countries instead of eradicating it! By the time of doing research for this paper there were more TX cars for the expatriates in Iringa and Mbeya regions who were managing poverty.