Thursday, June 17, 2010

Screening of ‘Good Fortune’ and Foreign Aid debate

The Alliance Française de Nairobi together with Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa hosted the screening of ‘Good Fortune’ at the A/F auditorium on Monday 7 June 2010.

Post Film Screening Debate

Good Fortune film Poster

‘Good Fortune’ is a movie/documentary that highlights the Kibera Slum House Upgrading Project undertaken by UNEP and the Kenyan Government & the Dominion Farm in Yala Swamp Project.

This was movie/documentary was shot back in 2007 and captures images of 2007 campaigns and also has small shots of post election violence.

Film was followed by a panel discussion on the debate of aid to Africa and the Panelists included:

  • Landon Van Soest- Director/Producer of film
  • Ali Khan, Kenyan Economist
  • Leo Roozendaal, Oxfam’s Regional Director
  • Aldo Biondi, European Commission


The West has spent $2.3 trillion in charitable aid over the last 50 years but has failed to significantly reduce poverty levels in Africa. The post screening debate explored how massive, international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. Through intimate portraits of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from large-scale development organizations, in the film, panelists and audience were provided with a unique opportunity to experience foreign aid through the people it is intended to benefit.

Landon Van Soest provided back ground information on the film. Some of those I managed to catch were;

  • He spent 4-5 years researching and making the film
  • His main Objective was to study development in East Africa
  • He spent roughly 4 years in the Yala firm Project
  • He was funded by a foundation that deals with Environmental issues
  • He has screen the film in areas that he has influence i.e. it has been screen in USAID, WB circles and some USA Universities.

Ali Khan, Kenyan Economist and founder of brought forth alternative & insightful perspectives backed with data to this debate.

Aldo Biondi gave perspectives from humanitarian arm of development.

NB: All speakers did emphasize that foreign aid is Not a bad perspective to tackling some of the major problems presented to day but the are aspects of it which are bad and some good.

Bottom Line

The film deals with perceptions of poverty and is a good starting point to critically think about foreign aid to Africa. As the director put it this film does NOT provide any answers it presents opportunities of rethinking on the above. i.e. People in Kibera are satisfied with what they presently have because the see the slum upgrading project as a plot by government to evict them from their present homes and communities in Yala do not appreciate the dominion project

Movies Synopsis

The West has spent billions of dollars over the years on aid to Africa, yet poverty persists. Here, two multi-million dollar international aid projects are examined that may actually be undermining the very communities they seek to help.

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