Month: February 2016



Mr Boda is a married man with three children. He lives alone in Kampala where he rented a house while his wife and children live in a suburb of Masaka. He has been a motor-taxi driver for 3 years and before that he was a farmer. Today he manages the two sources of funding and his wife runs a small shop in Masaka. Mr Boda’s plantation brings in about 6 million shilling per year and earns on average 35,000 shilling per day excluding fuel expenses and food. Mr Boda recruits young people in the suburbs to take care of his plantation.




Les objectifs de développement durable…Une expression à la une. Peut-être en as-tu entendu parler, peut-être est-ce la première fois ? En bref, il s’agit de 17 objectifs établis par la communauté internationale  pour un monde meilleur.Il y’a quelques temps je me suis demandé ce que le développement durable signifiait pour moi avant de penser à en être un acteur.




The 2015 report of the UNDP affirms that around 1 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty. Most of these extremely poor people are found in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. As the SDGs propose a framework to alleviate extreme poverty, it’s important to notice that a lot of researches are conducted to come out with innovative ways to apply the SDGs. But most of these studies are done on the occidental point of view, leaving aside the perception of what these extremely poor people think or say about their own development.

To illustrate the importance of taking into consideration a global approach of the application of the SDGs, I propose an analysis based on observation research.


If you ask a scientist what he sees on the above pictures, he will answer a rainbow. He will define it with the reflection of light on a water source. Well, the Christian also sees a rainbow and for him, it is a covenant that God made with man so as not to destroy the earth again through water/floods. If you wear these colors near a pro-gay, he will surely think you are identifying yourself to his cause. The Quran has no mention of the rainbow or any significance. The other difference here is the number of colors perceived in a rainbow.

I have called these differences in perceptions “the rainbow theory”. Why? Because many might see a rainbow at list once in their life but the meaning is so subjective and different from Africa to Europe, America and Asia. Even if we perceive things differently, it does not prevent them from existing.

The “rainbow theory” is a mental framework to always ask ourselves what other people think about issues. To develop the mindset of taking into consideration the perception that others around us have of a particular or general phenomena.

Applying this to development, I will simply say that it is better to ask people what development means for them. We will be amazed to discover the diversity and the riches of others people’s point of view and this can be very innovative. Therefore how many studies have been made to ask the needy what do they think about development? What are they doing to develop themselves and what is the impact of their investment? What strategies can we apply based on the new knowledge brought by the most vulnerable groups?

Please add a comment to share what development means to you. You can also share a situation where you faced different perception of the same object or situation with somebody. How did you react to the differences?

By Ngaté Hervé-Boris,Masters  Intercultural Studies.



As I was visiting a relative in one of Sub-Saharan country where I am living since nearly one year, I saw masons working and I asked my host how much they gain per day. She replied “7000 Shillings”. That was “wow” for me. I said “in my country they gain around 1500 Fcfa which is 7500 shillings”. Converting in dollars gives us  approximately  $2.8 to 3.In further enquiries in another building site, a worker said he earns 8000 shillings a day ($3.2).I was really amazed when reading the Sustainable Development Goals, to notice that around 1 billion people on earth live with less than  the above amounts. Actually, the other shock was to realize that masons are not among the poorest (which I actually thought).These masons are earning between 84 to 96 dollars a month. Fare ahead the  limit of $1.25 a day.

Then several questions came into my mind:

How do they manage to live with $2.8 to 3.2  a day? The cost of life includes paying a house, eating and drinking, paying the bills, health and transport. And as I noticed with one of the masons, many of them either have a wife with children or are living with a girl with a child. How can they manage such responsibilities? I pictured it again and again. The answer was still not clear in my mind.

Do they have a plan to sustain the work and gain more than that? The possibilities of having such work 30 days a month is still to question. What about fatigue both physical and psychological? What are the strategies they have developed to earn money if they are not working on a building site?

As I was reading the SDGs again, these two questions were there over and over until I decided to conduct a little interview with one of the masons representing a group of 10 to 15.I thought this is a good baseline for further studies and analysis on how to make the SDGs workable in Sub-Saharan Countries.

This is the summary of the interview done on the 29th of January evening:

  • The salary can vary from 5000-10000 Shillings depending on the duration of work (5h-9h30/day).For the bosses who are generous, the launch can be paid (around 2000/day)
  • All the money is spent on diner and to care for the family generally living upcountry. The rent can vary from 10000-50000 shillings.
  • None of the masons have a saving plan. “It does not even cross their mind” said the young masons interviewed. This means no plan to grow or invest for a better future.
  • Most of them have only the job of masons. If they are not hired they remain without trying to get another job.
  • There are people who live with less than 5000 shilling a day with no saving plan.
  • Most of the masons ended school in S4 or S6.

After the interview I concluded that:

  • It is possible to live with $1.25 a day including all the charges with a family. Many of the masons live with more than that amount a month.
  • There is no plan for sustainability. No idea for investment. No strategy of personal or family development.

This case study enlightens me on the practicability of the SDGs: It remains a fiction for those who are not prepared for it. In fact the masons interviewed have just ended its secondary school and was working as a masons to collect 70000 Shillings to register at University. His plan is to graduate and get a descent Job. He has a plan for academic and professional development and would possibly have a Job in the formal sector.

Since the reason of the fiction is known, something can be done. The government, the civil society and the international community can address the challenge of preparedness through awareness. Ignorance is the key hindrance for the sustainable development of these masons and many others in their job categories. The gap between knowing what to do and implementing by starting somewhere somehow depend on our good will.

By Ngaté Hervé-Boris

Hervé-Boris holds a Masters of Arts specialized in cross-cultural psychology and communication.He is interested in the global approach of development in Sub-Saharan Countries. He promotes innovation and creativity as key tools for development and he is passionate about supporting vulnerable groups.