After a month cycling in Malawi I am well accustomed to the phrase ‘give me money’, given subtle but punchy variation with the addition of my – ‘Give me my money’. I haven’t counted but would estimate it is shouted on 20-50 occasions ever day I ride. Not only is it irritating, it is also illustrative of dynamics within the country: a dependence on AID and a belief that muzungus (white people) are here to give.
My initial response was to reply ‘why?’ Sadly, this merely causes brief bemusement, for the chorus to resume moments later. It does however feel like a valid question, not in terms of why money is wanted but why so many people ask for it. Am I expected to stop and give money to everyone who shouts? Is it serious or done partly because it is deemed funny? In the UK people might currently expect me to be selling a Big Issue (I am receptive to Facebook feedback), why is it so different here?
Speaking to a conservationist based in Malawi, he shares similar but more important worries. Part of his work involves trying to educate the local community about how to live in close proximity to spotted hyenas; covering topics like how to behave if approached and how to make livestock safe. Despite holding workshops, designed to benefit humans and hyenas alike, they are struggling to get people to attend. The reason for this is that no food or cash is offered to incentivise turnout; something offered by other charitable organisations in the area.
Former Bank of England advisor Charles Goodhart came up with a theory that when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. Dubbed Goodhart’s Law, this is the exact trap the charities have fallen into, as they become bigger and more bureaucratic, targets get put in place. The argument would go that the number of people attending workshops is a good measure of a successful workshop. So the charity puts in place targets based on workshop attendance. However, the original measure (attendance) becomes meaningless because workers on the ground will focus on that target – by giving out food and money –rather than the actual point (running good impactful workshops). Not only is the focus on attendance likely to detract from the workshops, it is also damaging to the wider community, as my conservationist friend is discovering.
The importance of targets in the ‘giving’ world is significant and examples of badly chosen ones are not hard to find. Another example is projects which are given funding – sometimes at significant levels, from taxpayer’s wallets – but are miles away from deserving a penny. AID organisations pre-allocate funds internally based on categorisation, for example $500 million for agriculture in Malawi, this then essentially becomes a target for allocation. If you don’t use it, you are likely to lose it; perhaps only getting $400 million next year. The creation of the quasi target then results in non-worthy causes being given funding, in order to protect next year’s pot.
A similar problem can occur with trophy hunting when licenses are forward sold. A hunter may buy a license for say $10,000 to shoot an adult male lion. After a long day tracking, he doesn’t see an adult male lion but on his way to camp crosses paths with a young juvenile male. Not something he would have wanted to shoot beforehand, he decides to shoot it, as he has already paid the $10,000.
Putting targets in place seems intuitively like a simple thing but good targets are actually fiendishly hard to achieve. One way to get around the problem is to have multiple targets which pull in different directions or to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative targets. This still might not help my friend though, who is talking to an empty room about the pros of not picking fights with hyenas. If you are going to give money, the best solution is probably to give small and give focused; those charities are less likely to require targets in the first place and be more efficient with money they do get.
Written by Douglas Drake
Aspiring adventurer, writer and environmentalist. Having sold his soul for a few years, Doug is now pursuing his true passions in life which revolve around animals and the natural world. With a background in business and finance it is likely Doug’s articles will tilt that way.
Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage
While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.
If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.
Repair and Maintain Appliances
Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.
Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.
When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.
Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full
It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.
The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.
Recycle Water in Your Yard
Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.
You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.
Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants
Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.
Install Water-Saving Features
The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.
There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.
Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City
Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.
If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.
Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism
When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.
After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.
How was it started?
It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.
How to go about it?
So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.
If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.
What can be learned?
Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .