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Niger Problem

2005-09-05 07:26:00

Niger Problem
Monday, September 5, 2005 6:25 AM

I am in Niger because I watched a BBC report with the Doctors without Borders from France while in Europe and got curious about what was going on in the country.

I have discovered.

The NGOs have been in Niger for at least 10 years, some less and some more. I am taking photos of all the offices and hopefully will create a map of the locations.

I believe there are plenty of paid people working here in Niger; however, I am not sure they leave the major capital city here and go to the places where they are needed.

I will ask you, where should I go?
What are the names of cities, communities, the exact locations where there are problem?

This may be the problem.

I contacted on person who a friend of friend knew, however I have not heard anything from this organization.

We should be able to get on and find a map of the problem, with all the defined locations.

Or maybe

Alternatively, for sure we should get on the UNICEF site, which is maybe the true non-profit site of the United Nations and find the exact locations, to me they should be providing a clearly defined problem so the not so well funded NGO groups could go and work.

A solution requires a well-defined problem.

(I am XXXX the names of this person as I believe it is dangerous for me and her to talk too much about this where the Niger Government could read, she told me last night that the Doctors without Borders from France left the country for two months and just now came back, I think as a result of the interview I saw on BBC.)

I am living in the home of XXXX a girl that has worked for XXXX Canada or Quebec for two and one half years. I have asked here multiple times where the problem is located.

She has no idea; she only says there are many NGOs in Maradi.

This is nothing new, in fact, the Lonely Planet Guidebook says this and I have what I think
is the 2002 or 2003 edition, it is old.

- … more than the usual quota of international aid organizations. -

Page 298 Lonely Planet Africa - Niger Section

I was talking with XXXX from Slovenia that works for UNICEF from Slovenia.
They are paying her to make an assessment of the problem.

These organizations have been here for ten years, and this problem is not
a new problem, ever three years the same problem happens. The government stockpiles food for this problem and one even lost his job because they discovered food inside his home. (Read the Lonely Planet history section on Niger.)

It seems obvious to me that the problem is not defined clearly.

However, I really do not think that is the problem. I think the NGOs make numerous reports explaining the problem, however do not share collectively the information.

This should in my opinion be published with photos explanations on the internet for the Journalist to mine and create stories and documentaries on the situation.

I will ask every NGO person I meet where the problems are and how I find a map of all the locations, I need to learn if they have a central location and if any of them know. I have met now maybe 20 people and none of them knows.

This is a ridiculously sad problem, a very preventable problem.
The Government of Niger, the NGOs and everyone involved seem committed to keeping this problem so they can benefit.

The nutshell is this; a Government needs to collect taxes to provide assistance. They first in most countries need to make enough so they live like a king, then after that they will try to make the people happy by providing services and help.

I think less than one percent of people here in Niger pay taxes, and probably 90 percent of the tax type income for this country is coming from money collected from foreigners in the form of fees.

Normally a government that is ineffective in collecting taxes does by setting up roadblocks or funnels whereby a person needs to go through this gap as part of living in the country.

Example: They set up a tollbooth to collect fees from cars that enter and leave the city, this guarantees they collect money.

Example: Thy collected about 100 U.S. Dollars for my 3 month visa to Niger, for a country that could create many jobs in the form of tourism they have made sure that every person jumps through these hoops, this is the normal operating procedure, collect when it is possible and do not work on long-term solutions.

Example: Any business that has a proper location, is big enough that it cannot move, that has an office pays the lions share of the taxes, the way you avoid this as a business is to be corrupt and pay bribes to the local officials so they do not collect the taxes. It is a string type logic whereby the money never makes it to the till, the way to get rich in a poor country is to work for the government.

Subsistence farming here in Niger is prevalent, and only about 15 percent of the people can read. This is an easily controlled population, they cannot organize, and culturally the new bosses are the same as the old bosses to quote -The Who-.

The government of a nation is held responsible by the Freedom of the Press to shame them into action and the people of the country becoming angry when they learn how they are being abused.

I have said on many occasions, take photos, this is the solution, take photos because a photo or film tells a story better than any other method, send it to the media, let them get responsibility for the photos or take responsibility for the stories, let them earn the money, and the world is therefore shamed into action.

BBC did this, so I thank them, however I see a shortage of reporters here, I got to admit, you would not catch me walking around in Niger with one of them 1500 dollar U.S. one-foot long Canon Digital Camera I want to buy… hehehe, it would make me the biggest target in the country to be deported.

I was told people like that are turned back at the border.

I have been taking, let me check.

2288 X 1712 JPG Photos of about 1500 to 2000 Kilobytes with my Olympus Camera.

I have stopped using this camera in Niger, only for special reasons because it does not open, load, and focus fast enough to take a photos quickly it is extremely slow Camera, my Sony 200 Dollars Camera with the same type specifications was better, however I am trying the Olympus, however I am not happy. However, the zoom has not broken and the zoom on the Sony made it worthless, so who knows, I need a camera that is bulletproof and small. I cannot be secret about photos when the camera takes two minutes to open and has a zoom pointed at the people.

1632 X 1224 JPG Photos and about 500-Kilobyte photos with my Sony Cyber shot waterproof camera. My camera of choice, however I dropped it a few too many times on the floor and the flash does not work. It does not have a zoom and this is a problem.

On hindsight I have realized this four zoom optical camera of Olympus and three zoom digital is rather worthless also, the Sony I had with the same zoom was worthless also. This is not a good zoom situation.

My 10 Optical Zoom on my Sony Mavica was good, however the 3.5 Floppy did not create good photos or large enough to make into paper stills.

What I need is a small flat camera, where I can screw on a 10-20 Optical zoom that does not look like a pig, the huge cameras that are used by the Journalist or Photographers would spoil the real culture and only create a problem. I need to not have a zoom unless I really need it, I do not want the world to know I am taking photos.

The question I have is can I take the 1632 X 1224 JPG Photos and about 500 Kilobyte photos and are they big enough for a newspaper or magazine to publish.

I should get on the Getty Photo site again and nose around; they sent me an auto responder email about specifications for selling photos to them.

I went and read the email, its not really about submission guidelines for photos, more about submission guidelines to work with them.

This is from their page:

- To request our submission guidelines, please contact the email address below.
[email protected] -

None of this is needed for the internet and what you really need are small photos in the Email format 640 x 480 and around 50-150 Kilobytes in size, however I have discovered most people think they are going to get rich taking the photograph of the century for Look Magazine, or National Geographic and they will become famous…. Hehehe

Or more likely give their photo away for peanuts to a company that pays them nothing, because what they did is accidentally be in the right place at the right time. This is my theory on photographs in Niger; I may be in the right place at the right time to take a good photo that some Magazine could use.. FOR FREE, I will give them to you, providing you say, hehehe - Compliments of and of course, you do not annoy me by making me kiss you before you try to take something for Free.

I am pretty much resigned to the fact that I do not want to make money working with Photographers or Journalist, they annoy me too much, and they are too lazy as a group, the very best of the best I do not meet, bottom line is they are just not warm and friendly people.

I have written a few emails with a semi-Journalist or some definitions I am not sure of and he is a good guy, and does help, however he is not a full time Journalist. Probably good, because a Journalist must create a great story, or in my view INVENT a story to be successful, there is not enough money to be made in reporting the truth.

Thank the good Gods has become solvent and I can travel the world as a roaming beach bum! Not having to kiss anyone, not that I ever was good at kissing for money or donations.

Actually, for me to live by donations is a great way to starve, or for sure live below the poverty level of 98 percent of the planet.

All, what a bunch of crap, I have lived very good for the last 8-9 years, I need to try to count, maybe I have passed 9, I need to keep some records, I really cannot be bothered.

Ok, I have lived wonderful and I am in a place where Photographers and Journalist cannot afford to come, because they would have to be pre-paid for the stories. This is an idea, I could pay people to submit photos of Niger and I could post them on the internet. This would create the solution I think is needed, a way for them to make money while being a Volunteer.

Note, I have not seen Volunteers here, except for Peace Corp, however that is not a true pay for yourself type of Volunteer situation, and when they leave, they have a resume that helps them get jobs.

Hmmm.. Are there the pay-to-play volunteers here, not a pretty place to live, not enough alcohol or party, no tourist, I would say in my guess, NO, there is no way to get a Volunteer that pays to come here, they will stick to the fun countries like Peru where they are not needed so much, or maybe not at all, and life is fun.

Volunteers need to have fun to be Volunteers, that would be a great idea, create an NGO bar, restaurant that you could visit and share…

I say starving people here X.
I know where there is a food crisis X.

To say the least it is annoying at the ineffective group behavior of the NGOs of the world, more or less, I will save the world, you can tell me I am a great person if and only if you give me Air Conditioning, a great salary, and let me have a 50,000 Dollars Toyota Land Cruiser to drive in a country where the average person may makes, I guess I have the data in my Encarta Encyclopedia.

10th from the bottom, that means that one lets be kind, one of them 30,000 Dollars SUVs could buy the life of 30,000 divide by 170 dollars per year, it could buy the life to live for one year of…
179 people

So every time I seen an SUV, I can call it the 179 Car.

Remember in Schindlers list when he was taking the rings off his hand, crying and saying how many people he could have saved with the money from each personal item he owned. That was a great scene, and Steven Spielberg did a great job of producing or directing or whatever.

This is me though, it cost me 900 Dollars for the plane ticket, 100 Dollars for the Visa and I am working on a 1000-dollar computer. I will probably spend here 700 Dollars so for more or less 3000 Dollars I am carrying the lives or spending the life giving money to save…

17 People.
I guess that is my due, I need to save 17 people lives to not feel guilty.

The collected this information from the
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) -

170 Niger 170
171 Malawi 170
172 Tajikistan 170
173 Liberia 160
174 Guinea-Bissau 160
175 Eritrea 160
176 Sierra Leone 150
177 Congo (DRC) 100
178 Burundi 100
179 Ethiopia 90

How do I save 17 people lives?

I am not sure, I am sure this is the problem also, how can we save a persons life, in the end I am positive of the long term solution is when the country of Niger manages this problem, therefore I believe to help I need to help convince Niger to take care of its people, organize its military, police, and people to help their own people.

I think as BBC did or done, it is with photos, words, and a creation of a voice in the world for those who cannot read or write.

I still owe 17 lives, I am happy now, I am thinking this through and finding out what I am responsible for in the world.