well, there goes that bill and melinda gates foundation grant i had been hoping for…

May 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

today i had a conversation with a human rights kid about whether or not cultural genocide was a good thing.

cause i mean, cultural genocide may not be *that* bad if it is replaced with more personal freedom and access to information.

i threw up a little in my mouth.  i pretended that i had gotten a pepper stuck in there.

sometimes i forget how extreme my views are in the mainstream.

like, that the bill and melinda gates foundation is not an example of a ‘good’ ngo. because it is too big to be effective.  especially in the area of global health.

The New York Times reported in February that Dr. Arata Kochi, the combative leader of WHO’s malaria programs, complained the foundation’s dominance in malaria research was creating a “cartel” that stifled divergent views and tried to force its priorities on WHO.

Kochi no longer holds that job. A WHO spokesman would only say he was “on leave,” and that his absence was not related to comments about the foundation.


In other words, Stonesifer says, the Gates Foundation needs honest feedback and criticism to help it figure out how best to improve the health of the world’s poor, boost food production in Africa and improve schools in the U.S.

Honesty can be hard to come by, though, when you’re handing out staggering amounts of cash.

And some question how sincere the foundation is about listening to critics.

“They’re not really fostering tough debate,” said Pablo Eisenberg, a columnist for The Chronicle of Philanthropy and senior fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. “They have not solicited and gone after people who will tell them the truth.”

Particularly in the field of global health, where funding for diseases of the developing world was anemic before Gates’ $9.5 billion dollar infusion, few are willing to risk wrath by pointing out flaws in the foundation’s approach.

“It would be suicidal for someone who wants a grant to come out and publicly criticize the foundation,” said Mark Kane, former leader of a Gates-funded program to expand childhood immunizations in the developing world. “The Gates Foundation is very sensitive to PR.”


That chilling effect could undermine the foundation’s goals, says Phil Buchanan, executive director of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, which helps foundations evaluate their work. “If you want to achieve the greatest possible positive impact, you’ve got to figure out how to hear things from people on the ground who might know more than you about some pretty important things.”

It’s a dilemma every foundation faces, but due to its sheer size and influence on the world stage, the stakes are even higher for the Gates Foundation.

“They’re probably at greater risk of being isolated from critical feedback than any other foundation in the world,” Buchanan said.


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