Development at a distance.


Here we are, on a brief walk in K. Brief, because we are pretty well forbidden by the National Security Service (NSS) from any actual interactions with real people here, and from doing anything public, such as walking in the street. Instead we are driven everywhere – the project site, where we hop out and talk to some project staff and perhaps a few community leaders – but not actual people, poor people – and then back in the car. Work release, as my colleague M calls it.

We are also forbidden from taking photos. So I have to keep using my phone to ‘make calls’, as we term it. Strangely, I never get through. Photos taken hastily with a phone though are very unsatisfying, rarely any good and mostly are blurred by my finger or my hat.


Some latrines. I will spare you the inside image. But imagine 100 children, all…

you get the picture. Communal latrines in IDP camps are always hard to maintain, and invariably poo is all over the place. 10000 people in a camp, 200ml per day – that’s 2000L of poo to deal with. It is a big problem, and unpopular. Much more fun to manage a water supply:


But even here, you can count – of 12 taps, only 5 are working. Who is responsible? the community? TEAR Fund? the Government department to whom it has been handed over? No one can agree.


Classroom. Be thankful for your data projectors and libraries and laptops, kids.

This man runs a public latrine in the market place. Originally built by TEAR Fund, and then handed over to a community management committee. Half a Sudanese Pound gets you the right to use the toilet, a jug of water to clean yourself with and bar of soap at the end to use. A cleaner is paid to clean them all daily, and with the profit they make, they are planning to make more latrines at the other end of the market. Private enterprise. I wondered aloud with the staff if the management committee could use this captive audience to do some public education – stick notices about civic rights, health, etc on the back of the toilet doors. I had forgotten that because Arabic is the holy language of God, they can’t have anything written in Arabic so close to a toilet – it would offend God. Interesting, the cultural problems we don’t see.

(I am cross about the above photo; it is out of focus because I had to rush, because the NSS flunkey was coming back).

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One thought on “Development at a distance.

  1. hey mate, great to see and hear some ‘snap shots’ from you back on the road.
    quick photos and pithy thoughts – a good combo.
    …and the photo is only partly out of focus; his shirt looks excellent 😉

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