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Kenyans donating via cellphone for famine relief

The BBC reports:

Kenyans have donated nearly $200,000 (£122,000) via mobile phone banking for aid to victims of the worst drought in the region in 60 years… The appeal – involving mobile phone company Safaricom, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper and Kenya Commercial Bank – is intended to raise $5.4m. The companies have urged the public to do a text transfer of at least 10 US cents into a special bank account.

After months of hearing about how dilapidated schools in Kenya have found it impossible to realize donations from parents, I found this striking. But it’s pretty consistent with how Americans and other people behave as well: willing to make big sacrifices for what is considered a near-term crisis/emergency, but more reluctant to donate for longer-standing problems. So the question is, how to harness such good citizenship to address the structural problems, which would help avert  crises from arising?

About Evan Lieberman

I am a Professor of Political Science at MIT, and I conduct research, write, and teach about development, ethnic politics, and research methods.

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