Bibles and lions, oh my!

Aid Watch occasionally features entries by NGO-worker Dianne Bennett. Her previous post on DFID’s Douglas Alexander’s inability to distinguish between self-promotion and accountability was well-argued and thoughtful. Her more recent post is a bit harder to swallow:

A small team was dispatched to assess and prioritize the needs of internally displaced people (IDPs) resettling in a corner of South Sudan…..

….Our team was horrified when we learned that lions actively hunted in this area, killing children daily without protection of shelter or family….

True to our word, our NGO brought in emergency food supplies, then seeds and agricultural tools. A year later, insufficient rain created a temporary food crisis and we again brought in supplemental food supplies to help them get through….

Within a short time of our first visit, there were no more lion attacks on helpless children and we never heard another word about the hundreds of orphaned children.

Is it just me, or are they claiming credit for the lack of lion-related deaths in this village? What sort of people does this NGO employ? There’s no mention of any direct attempt to protect the villagers from the attacks or kill the lions….. so how is it that they get the credit for this?

It’s odd that Easterly, usually a hound for good evidence, allows for the occassional bit of shameless promotion – Bennett’s article is titled “Respecting local values: Western confusion about African orphans,” yet her article deals very little with local culture, aside from a brief discussion of ubuntu (despite the fact that ubuntu is a bantu-based, south-east African concept, far from the culture of southern Sudan).

The story gets stranger, and a fair bit ickier when a commenter revealed this story on the website of Bennett’s NGO, Servant’s Heart Relief, titled “Going into the War Zone – Because They Care.” This is the part that struck me:

“…I made a commitment to them to bring in some food, bring in some bibles and I thought that was going to be the end of my involvement. Instead what happened was, that was almost 3 years ago now, and we’re still involved,” she said.

What was that about respecting local culture? I think this Onion article sums it up properly: Poverty-Stricken Africans Receive Desperately Needed Bibles.