30 January 2013

Videos of the poor

ODI have just posted a great couple of videos of cash transfer recipients telling their own stories. The first video opens with "There is a great deal of debate around the effectiveness of cash transfer programmes," to which should perhaps have been added, "mostly amongst people who have apparently never spoken to an actual poor person who has received a cash transfer, or, apparently, read any of the voluminous literature documenting the many positive impacts of giving very poor people a little bit of money."

The first one made me tear up a bit.
My name is Mukulu Kimuyo. I live in Kwakavisi. I am thirteen years old. 
After we started receiving cash transfers we were able to buy a roof and repair our house. 
Before the roof was repaired the rain would always fall on us while we were sleeping. 
Now life is different because I don't have torn clothes, I have pens, I have shoes, and I don't go hungry.
If the cash transfers stopped I would have to wear torn clothes again, I would have to go to school without pens, or even shoes, and I might be sad. In fact, very sad. 
After I complete my studies, I would like to be a doctor

The second focuses on Carlito, whose legs are paralysed and uses a second-hand wheelchair thrown out by a local hospital, and who receives "just over 4.5 US dollars per month as part of Mozambique's Basic Social Subsidy Programme." That we live in a world in which it is somehow deemed in any way acceptable that we support a disabled person with just 4.5 dollars a month kind of makes me ashamed to be human.
My name is Carlito. I am 25 years old. My legs have been paralysed since 1992. 
This is my home. It is made of mud and is damaged often. 
I wish I lived in a concrete house like my neighbour's home, as it would not need so many repairs and would be more comfortable. 
If I had some money I would like to run a small shop. This is my dream.

These are not outliers. They are pretty normal people. These are the lives and concerns of millions. 


Erol Yayböke said...

Powerful videos indeed. I'm not a cash transfer expert by any stretch of the imagination (so forgive me for any perceived ignorance and/or point me in the direction of more research so I can edumicate myself) but the short-term benefits of transferring money to the poor seem pretty obvious. However, how does giving a bit of cash now help them not be in a position to need the cash transfer in the future?

I'm mostly struck by Mukulu's comment: "If the cash transfers stopped I would have to wear torn clothes again, I would have to go to school without pens, or even shoes..."

Does that mean he'll need the cash transfers forever?

rovingbandit said...

Hi Erol,

On this point I defer entirely to Owen Barder's point about social justice. I think that the aid industry is caught up in a bizarre cult of sustainability, and that we should be expanding permanent systems of redistribution from the richest in the world to the poorest in the world.

the richest people in the world have a duty to support the poorest people in the world – whether they are in the same country or not – as a matter of social justice rather than charity. This is a principle that we accept within our own countries – few of us think that we should aim to exit altogether from national insurance, state pensions or unemployment benefits in our own countries. The same principle should apply globally: there will always be people who are relatively rich and people who are relatively poor, and we should be aiming to evolve institutions which are effective at transferring income from the best off to the wost off around the world. And we will be doing that for the foreseeable future.

Especially when so much of our income is determined by luck rather than talent (60% the country you were born in, 20% how rich your parents were). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/books/review/Rampell-t.html?_r=0

Post a Comment