BE SUSTAINABLE OR DIE
Posted on 26 February, 2019 at 15:33
By Luxon Kalonga
Pausing for a photo with my older brother and sister, I could see big smiles on both their faces from the corners of my eyes. Little did I know that their grins were not merely expressions of joy to my achievement. My graduation day was also a sigh of relief for them because they had contributed to my university education for the four years of my first-degree journey. My sister Wendy had worked hard and rose to a senior management position in a local clothing retailer whilst my brother Legend was rising through the ranks as an engineer at a prominent parastatal. My family is endowed with individuals who excel in their careers; a first degree was the least I could achieve. The graduation culminated into an all-night drinking party that left my friends legless to say the least. What a memorable event it was!
Days went by and before I even noticed, three months had passed and I was still jobless. Basic activities like meeting friends at the mall for a chat, going for a soccer match, getting a haircut and buying credit for my phone became very difficult for me – a smart guy who always had big brothers and sisters to hook him up with a few dollars. Every time I would ask for the smallest amount, I had to wash somebody’s car, run some boring errand or be on the receiving end of never-ending reminders for me to get a job! Everybody was now concentrating on paying for my younger brother’s university expenses and they were hoping I would get a job and contribute as well. I realised that tables had turned and I needed to grow up faster that I was ready. Despite having been spoilt for my teenage years and early 20s, it struck me that I was entitled to absolutely NOTHING. I asked to help out my brother in his denim-selling business; of cause for a small allowance. This allowance came in handy as I could network with friends, ex-college seniors, churchmates and old friends. Through these links, I got my first job 😊.
As I conduct my work within the NGO sector, I have discovered that I was not the only one who struggled with the “Entitlement Syndrome”. People in some remote communities were so used to obtaining food aid that they felt it was their right to obtain such aid periodically. There are noble NGOs that came up with initiatives to empower people to produce their own food through irrigation, greenhouse projects and the like. A noteworthy example is Zimbabwe Project Trust (Zimpro) which has managed to finance its operations through successful businesses such as Trust Academy, Adelaide Acres and Octrev Microfinance. Most of these initiatives have flourished but we have some individuals within the communities who dread aid that would require them to work. On the other hand, some NGOs find it difficult to have strategic plans that entail reliance upon sources of income other than grants.
global economic crisis has decimated the extra cash that developed economies
spare for grants and aid for developing countries. The recent fall in grants
and aid can be traced back to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and credit crunch
in 2007-8 and more recently the Eurozone crisis which led to economic
instability in countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus.
The escalating threats of terrorism has also been forcing developed countries’
governments to prioritise national security over foreign policy issues.
According to an April 2017 article by Foreign
Policy the Trump administration is
mulling a drastic slashing of assistance to developing countries by over
one-third in a move that will see the State Department merging with USAID. Closer
home, we have the current austere economic environment which has decimated the
disposable incomes of households, prompting the need for more aid. As reported
in the Newsday, about a third of Zimbabwe’s population will be in need for food
NGOs may view the declining aid as a threat but we need to look at it as an opportunity to work on sustainability issues with greater urgency. The developed nations have been extending huge amounts of aid for a prolonged period. We need to be grateful for it and accept that weaning time is drawing near. Instead of expecting to receive fish from donors, NGOs need to obtain fishing rods and learn how to use them. NGOs should also embrace the mandate to teach their communities how to fish. Nobody is entitled to anything. We all need to play our part in ensuring sustainable development.
On the 28th and 29th of March 2019, KFM Consultants will be hosting a Sustainability Conference to assist Non-Profit Organisations in ensuring continued community impacts. This one is not to be missed!
, B., Gramer, R., & Tamkin, E. (2017, April 24). The End of Foreign Aid
As We Know It. Trump budget would gut development assistance and fold
USAID into State. Foreign Policy. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from
Newsday. (2019, February 26). 5,3 million Zimbabweans need food aid: UN. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/02/53-million-zimbabweans-need-food-aid-un/