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Giving no-strings-attached money to the world's poorest produces remarkably good results

The Economist details outcomes from Give Directly, an organization that analyzes satellite photos to identify the poorest places in the world and then hands over no-strings-attached cash grants to the people who live there. It's a contrast to other programs, where donations are funneled into school construction or funding planned-out businesses. Give Directly has produced remarkably good results: "In randomly selected poor households in 63 villages that have received the windfalls, they say, the number of children going without food for a day has fallen by over a third and livestock holdings have risen by half. A year after the scheme began, incomes have gone up by a quarter and recipients seem less stressed, according to tests of their cortisol levels."

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Goths of Kenya

Middle-class Kenyan teens are inventing a local version of goth subculture, and are at the center of a moral panic about kids-gone-wild -- according to an article in Think Africa Press. The article is shy on details or photographic evidence, but I hope its true about the subculture (and not about the moral panic). Anyone have more evidence of this?

The negative public image of the goth scene also extends beyond the general public and is apparent in the attitudes of local authorities, at times with dramatic consequences. David used to have long hair, another way to stand out in a country where men tend to wear it very short. A couple of weeks before I met him, he was walking in town at dusk, waiting for the bus back to Nakuru, when a police car pulled over in front of him. The police approached him and asked to see his passport, which he was not carrying, before they accused him of looking like ‘an al-Shabaab’ – a Somali militant Islamist group responsible for several terrorist attacks in the region.

David denied this, stating that he was a Kenyan. The police then challenged him as to why he had untidy hair and facial piercings, preposterously claiming that these are hallmarks of Somali terrorists. They put him in their car and drove him to a nearby barber where they forced him to shave his head. They said that this would "stop confusing them", and they told him to "dress like a decent person" in future.

When I first met David one of the first things I asked was whether he wore his preferred clothes all the time. I asked most of the goths this question and generally they admitted to travelling incognito, blending into the crowd. David, however, looked vaguely insulted at my question before replying, simply, “Me, I even wear this in Church”.

A Day in the Life of a Kenyan Goth [Rowan Emslie/Think Africa Press]

(via Christian Science Monitor)

The Google-Kenya ripoff

Mocality is an African startup that has a Kenya-wide business directory. There is no Kenyan yellow pages, so the directory was crowdsourced, paying thousands of Kenyans to help create and validate its database.

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Men and Motorcycles, Nairobi, Kenya (photo)


"Nairobi, Kenya," a photo from Boing Boing reader Biketripper shared in the BB Flickr Pool. On the bikeflaps of one rider, "A Strong Enemy Is Better Than a Weak Friend."

‪Market Bargaining in Nairobi‬‏: Joe Sabia (video)

‪Market Bargaining in Nairobi. The bargainer in question is Joe Sabia, who collaborates with me on Boing Boing Video projects. He was in Kenya working on some interesting new things.

Junk helicopter

Joseph Omwoyo, a 17 year old student in rural Kenya, started building this junk helicopter after visiting an airport; he hopes to be an aviation engineer some day. He should hook up with the Kenyan IT guy who's building a junk airplane.

17 year old's flying dream (via Afrigadget)

Semi-functional homebrew Kenyan junk-plane

Gabriel Nderitu is a Kenyan IT worker who devotes his off-hours to attempts to build an airworthy airplane out of junk. Here's his latest attempt: a small plane (with detachable wings), powered by a Toyota engine.

The strutted wing and ailerons are skinned with aluminum sheet. The engine itself turns up to 4,000 rpm, driving a 74-inch wooden propeller through a simple reduction belt drive. Nderitu says "a bit of it was a bit of reinventing the wheel ... not really looking and trying to copy." The aircraft is not yet finished and there is no guarantee Nderitu's craft will ever be licensed, or allowed to fly, or that it is even capable of flight (which seems unlikely). But that may not be the point.
Gabriel Nderitu, Kenyan Homebuilt Aircraft Manufacturer (via Neatorama)