It was almost embarrassing to watch. African presidents stepped up to the stage to make promises to Melinda Gates and donor countries, as European leaders held out the elusive dream of ‘development’ if only these countries will dedicate themselves to free access to contraception.
Inside the press box, I looked down on the select group of people in the room. Most seemed to be with non-government organizations or DfID (UK’s development agency).
The mingling outside the hall was stiff and uncomfortable, with many standing alone. Only the young staffers seemed happy to be there.
Uganda President Musevini let his exasperation seep out. Pledging $5 million for family planning by 2012, he said, “That may seem small, but we’re spending billions on getting electricity. We can’t have development without electricity.”
UK Prime Minister [David Cameron] announced this is a new approach to development – not just giving money, but helping developing countries create the building blocks to prosperity. His advice to dealing with opponents, those who question if this is a proper use of aid, or is imperialistic, or offensive to cultural and religious beliefs?
Rely on the ‘force of our arguments,’ he stated.
In other words, don’t listen. Just shout louder.