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Responses to Good Fortune

Experts from all sides of the international development debate, including the executive director of UN-HABITAT, watched Good Fortune. Their responses on the plights of Jackson and Silva and the massive aid projects in Kenya and around the world provide multiple perspectives on these complex issues.

Good Fortune: Gregory Adams

Gregory Adams, Director of Aid Effectiveness, Oxfam America

"The crux of the problem is that we, as donors, even donors with the best of intentions, too often impose solutions that are simply wrong for their context. How are we, sitting in air-conditioned offices in Washington, D.C., to know how to best improve the living conditions in Kibera or the livelihoods of Kenyan farmers?" Read more »

Good Fortune: Erica Hagen

Erica Hagen, Project Lead, Map Kibera

"As this movie points out so beautifully, the attitude of 'we know best what’s best for you' is just a modern version of the colonial approach that 'corrected' people’s behavior for their own good. It is perhaps the most insidious level of disrespect, and in the United States it would be considered anti-democratic. Is development intended to save people from themselves, or is it meant to empower them to achieve the goals they themselves most value?" Read more »

Good Fortune: Lawrence MacDonald

Lawrence MacDonald, Vice President, Center for Global Development

"Many who watch the film will want to know whether most efforts to foster development are similarly ill-starred. Is there nothing that works? Is a sort of benign neglect the best that the rich world can offer people in developing countries? Below I offer a few tentative answers." Read more »

Good Fortune: Anna Tibaijuka

Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director, UN-HABITAT

"The goal of improving slums, along with the inseparable task of reducing poverty, can only be achieved through a common vision. We have to be against poverty, not the poor. We are against slums, not slum dwellers. Slums and poverty would not exist if there were genuine commitment and political will to combat them. And this common vision can only be realized through genuine partnerships." Read more »

Good Fortune: Rasna Warah

Rasna Warah, Journalist and Author, Daily Nation (Kenya)

"But by portraying Adhiambo and Omondi as 'victims of development,' Good Fortune subconsciously reverts to the stereotypical image of Africa that is so common among Western liberals — an image that tends to romanticize African poverty by portraying Africans as innocent victims of development whose pure, traditional ways are being corrupted and destroyed by outsiders, rather than addressing the really difficult questions about why the continent is in a perpetual state of under-development. Read more »

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It’s important that we, as Western citizens, do what we can to combat extreme poverty. I hope this film can be the beginning of a discussion, and I hope that the way we administer aid in the future can change as a result.”

— Landon Van Soest, Filmmaker

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