Gary Haugen recently on law enforcement in developing countries and its stifle on development and had to wonder why it was something that I had never given enough, or even a lot of thought to before. I mean, I definitely know violence is an issue in developing countries, especially for women. And having focused a lot of my work on mobile learning and education, I understand that it can be an issue within schools that prevents a lot of children, again more often than not young girls, from staying within the school system. However, whilst purporting the benefits of mobile in helping to combat these challenges by allowing young girls to still gain knowledge without having to attend physical classrooms, the problem of violence in developing countries was something that I had not viewed from the angle presented here. And as I said to a colleague recently, development can often feel like treating cancer with a band-aid. Haugen discusses the impact of the failing law enforcement system, believing that it is at the root cause why we cannot seem to break through the cycle of poverty despite all our efforts. In his own words “you can give all manner of goods and services to the poor, but if you don't restrain the hands of the violent bullies from taking it all away, you're going to be very disappointed in the long-term impact of your efforts”. He then goes on to incredulously cite a rather shocking statistic that less than “one percent of aid going to protect the poor from the lawless chaos of everyday violence”. I know that most people I have worked with over the years are more than aware of the violence that is faced by mostly women and children in developing countries, but I have to confess, I am yet to speak to someone directly about any projects they might be working on to ‘improve the law enforcement system in *insert developing country of choice*’.I watched an interesting Ted Talk by
Drawing perhaps a tenuous link to mobile but focusing on some of the great work being done in the right direction, organisations such as Ushahidi and LaborVoices are helping citizens and workers to expose issues of violence or exploitation. And there is no doubting the influence of mobile in the Arab Spring. However, there has also been a flip side with some suggesting that mobile can at times increase the levels of violence in Africa. At the end of the day, mobile will always be just one piece of the puzzle we have been trying to ‘finish’ for years through all our work in charity and development. I’m not suggesting there is an answer or easy fix here, I was just moved by what Haugen had to say and it prompted me to want to share this for those, like me, who may not always have the reality of issues of violence at the forefront of their mind, and in particular with consideration for law enforcement. Please do watch Haugen’s talk and feel free to start a discussion below. The issues we are trying to overcome run deep and I think it’s important to not only constantly have these in mind, but to openly discuss them at all stages of our work.