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#1 6-26-2017 4:09 PM

mcak
Couch Potato
Posts: 3

Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Hello,

I would like more information on how much our western money is really worth to people in the #2 poorest country in the world; Congo. I might consider gifting them some money, expecting that my 10 Euros / dollars is in their economy like winning a major lottery price (say, they can eat from it for a month or something?)

But the information on the internet about costs of living or purchase power based on gdp, seems highly inaccurate. Most of the Google results show template sites (like expatistan) seemingly filled with bogus source information, resulting in living and all-day products costs nearly the same as over here in our own western valuta.

So my question: does anyone here has real insight in living and food/product costs for the average person in Congo?

Comparisation: my 10 dollars is supposed to be around 14700 CDF (congolese franc) - fourteen thousand sevenhundred CDF that is, as most calculators misadvertently are unclear about comma's and decimals.

What, in relation to local purchasing power, can a congo citizen do with this amount? Would they really feel like they can drop alot of financial worries for a longer period of time, or is it less in relation to what you would think for their standards?

And if it IS actually much for them over there, how is the mentality of folks there about spending - would you do more bad than good because they'll impulsively empty their wallet? or save it for their family etcetera.. (if anyone knows the culture there better than I do in this context) and would they therefore be generally delighted and thankful or not, and/or not believe you're really about to gift that away? (and are there risks to doing that for this reason)


If you're looking for a shorter answer; if you know, tell me how much the average income in CDF is for them? so I can imagine the spending power myself.

 

#2 6-27-2017 12:04 AM

lailahuang
Shenzhen, China
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Posts: 6

Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

i dont know about Congo, but in Ethipia which is located in East Africa, Average salary of a female cook is 50-80USD per month, a secretary or technician is around 150-180USD per month, professional high-paid job like lawyer is  350-400USD per month

 

#3 6-27-2017 5:05 AM

sarahelaine
Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

It can be really quite hard to figure out local costs vs western costs in money. Not least because there's a massive gap between the local middle class in Africa and the rest of African society. So what would be insanely generous to your driver would be pretty paltry to a colleague. I don't know Congo, but where we were in a poor part of northern Uganda, the local swimming pool was frequented by about 50% ex pats and 50% middle class locals, and the entrance for the day was roughly speaking two-three weeks wages for a driver or housekeeper. And bear in mind that driver and housekeeper were both considered very good well paid jobs by the subsistence farmers and market traders. It's far, far too simplistic to think in terms of "locals" rather than the individual people you are talking to.

Also, without wanting to sound too social justice warrior, why do you want to run around handing out money? It's not a long term solution to poverty. It is a bit western saviour complex to do it for no good reason apart from wanting someone to be grateful to you, and an increasing number of African economists and thinkers view it as actually harmful. A lot of harm gets done with westerners handing out high handed gifts with conditions- the hospital round where I worked had a room full of incubators for babies they couldn't use because aid agencies would pay for incubators but not for batteries, petrol generators or wages. Always, always ask the local communities what they really need first. If you're paying a wage for work that's another thing. And if it's a gift, why does it matter to you if someone spends it on a party for everyone they know or their kids' school fees? All the advice I've been given in the East African context is look for well run, and preferably locally run, good cause. A school might run scholarships for poor children, for example, or need solar panels or a decent toilet block. They're much less likely to need unqualified westerners to help build them.

Paul Collier's book The Bottom Billion is a good introduction to why I'm saying what I'm saying in that last paragraph. It's quite readable and he cites more African authors and evidence than most.

Last edited by sarahelaine (6-27-2017 5:13 AM)

 

#4 6-27-2017 10:59 AM

ulis
Uli
Vienna, Austria
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Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Yes, the income differences between the middle class and the poor are very big, also prices for local goods and western products, street food and restaurants, country side and cities ..., i quite agree with sarahelaine

sarahelaine wrote:

It can be really quite hard to figure out local costs vs western costs in money. Not least because there's a massive gap between the local middle class in Africa and the rest of African society. So what would be insanely generous to your driver would be pretty paltry to a colleague. I don't know Congo, but where we were in a poor part of northern Uganda, the local swimming pool was frequented by about 50% ex pats and 50% middle class locals, and the entrance for the day was roughly speaking two-three weeks wages for a driver or housekeeper. And bear in mind that driver and housekeeper were both considered very good well paid jobs by the subsistence farmers and market traders. It's far, far too simplistic to think in terms of "locals" rather than the individual people you are talking to.

Also, without wanting to sound too social justice warrior, why do you want to run around handing out money? It's not a long term solution to poverty. It is a bit western saviour complex to do it for no good reason apart from wanting someone to be grateful to you, and an increasing number of African economists and thinkers view it as actually harmful. A lot of harm gets done with westerners handing out high handed gifts with conditions- the hospital round where I worked had a room full of incubators for babies they couldn't use because aid agencies would pay for incubators but not for batteries, petrol generators or wages. Always, always ask the local communities what they really need first. If you're paying a wage for work that's another thing. And if it's a gift, why does it matter to you if someone spends it on a party for everyone they know or their kids' school fees? All the advice I've been given in the East African context is look for well run, and preferably locally run, good cause. A school might run scholarships for poor children, for example, or need solar panels or a decent toilet block. They're much less likely to need unqualified westerners to help build them.

Paul Collier's book The Bottom Billion is a good introduction to why I'm saying what I'm saying in that last paragraph. It's quite readable and he cites more African authors and evidence than most.

Last edited by ulis (6-27-2017 11:01 AM)

 

#5 6-27-2017 11:42 AM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Firstly, I think you deserve credit for the fact that you're considering donating your own money to anyone anywhere. And I think that the fact that you seem to be trying to get a handle on how meaningful and sustainable your contribution might be is a positive rather than a negative thing.
I am interested in the logic behind your choice of Congo in particular, as well as a specific amount, which makes me wonder whether you have a specific charity in mind?  I am also curious about whether this is intended to be a 'once off' donation, or a regular contribution (perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis), as, quite frankly a single donation of 10 euros won't make much of a difference to anyone.  By contrast, weekly donations of 10 euros over a sustained period could make quite a difference if the money is used wisely.
sarahelaine makes an excellent case for why you should donate to locally based organisations who understand and prioritise the needs of local communities, and I would wholeheartedly agree with her approach. 
However, the one point I would differ on is whether it matters that your money is used for 'sustainable purposes' (such as paying school fees) or whether it would be used to finance activities such as parties, which could be viewed as being frivolous.  It's your money, and you have a right to donate it in a manner that's consistent with your desire for it to be used in a sustainable manner.

 

#6 6-27-2017 1:42 PM

mcak
Couch Potato
Posts: 3

Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Thanks for the replies so far as it makes me understand better why there's no clear information about the exact impact of our western money, as you guys said the biggest problem of african countries like congo is inequality.

harbinger wrote:

I am interested in the logic behind your choice of Congo in particular, as well as a specific amount, which makes me wonder whether you have a specific charity in mind?  I am also curious about whether this is intended to be a 'once off' donation, or a regular contribution (perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis), as, quite frankly a single donation of 10 euros won't make much of a difference to anyone.

I wasn't planning to disclose that as it might sound weird (some people I tried gifting to even called me 'idiot'), but I haven't and won't travel there; I randomly added people from Congo to my facebook alias account and started making them offers in french which they understand, like: I am a person from Europe who doesn't trust charities land the money on the right spot, and if you offer me the opportuniy I will send you ~ 14000 CDF (my 8 euros approx)

Most of them thought I was about to try scamming them, but a few opened up and so far I have gifted 2 of these interested individuals, this 14000 CDF by Western union payment.
I had to explicitly state this payment would be done within 5 minutes of the chat word without requiring anything from them, to build the trust so they would get the pickup.

So yes, basically from my lazy couch I've been selecting (handpicking) congolese people who from the looks on their Facebook profiles are below the middle-class.
When they received it by picking up the cash, they acted extremely grateful, which set me wondering if this amount of our understandings barely a pizza's price, is for them something insane.

My reasons are humanitarian as I know they can do some utterly neccesary things with sudden financial space, malnutrition over there is high and people die from it, they may purchase many pounds of rice or food, even mineral water (scarce in that sort of countries) for worse times. A great part of families in Congo is already in danger with their always-harsh times.

You also asked how and why I picked specifically congo; well, by GDP per capita it's the most poor country, meaning I expect their money is relatively worth the least compared to ours, which means donations made by our western money affects the max to their purchasing power.
Or does someone know a country where the locals can do even more with each western dollar/euro? I don't think so.

Last edited by mcak (6-27-2017 1:49 PM)

 

#7 6-27-2017 1:48 PM

mcak
Couch Potato
Posts: 3

Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Bottom line: your comments may have been right about organised and local charity projects, but personally I don't feel like my specific donation(s) will make any noticable change in the end, the bigger picture.
Also with the minor amounts I donate each time (approx 10 dollar for each case) it wouldn't favour a greater project like that in its potential, I feel like personally ensuring it makes actual change somewhere (to someone) satisfies me more.

 

#8 6-27-2017 3:15 PM

sarahelaine
Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Globetrotter
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Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Not to be too negative- it's wonderful to want to help- I don't think Facebook is a good way to find those who need help most. Again, my experience is of east Africa. But think about what poverty actually means in a resource poor country. Houses do not often have an electricity supply, certainly not in the villages. People do have phones. Shops in the villages and slums will often have a row of chargers attached to a solar panel or petrol generator because people can't charge at home. But these are not $500 smart phones. They tend to be things like Nokia 3310s- built like a brick with a six day battery life and a torch but no internet - rather than anything with an app. So the people who are most in need will not be all that likely to have Facebook profiles. And anyone with a job in a shop or office is by definition doing well-Official employment in Uganda is about 10% because almost everyone is in undocumented, unstable labour. 

I know you said you don't trust charity and don't think your money would have the same impact, and I understand why. But individual schools and hospitals can do a lot with very little.  So you may do more good than you think. Also, have you considered micro loans through a lender like lend with care? I know that's not what you want to do. But micro loans allow people to buy seeds for their farms or goods for their shops- and those solar panels for phone charging I mentioned- and work themselves out of poverty permanently. And with lend with care you get repaid, so you lend it on to the next small business. Worth thinking about, maybe?

 

#9 6-28-2017 3:46 AM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Posts: 167

Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

sarahelaine's quite right - if someone has access to FB in that region, then they certainly don't qualify as poor.
Going back to the point of whether a small once off donation can make a difference, I'd like to highlight Project Dignity - a social upliftment project whose support I piloted within my company when I was working in South Africa.  This initiative provides uses SUBz Pads and Pants (washable, re-usable sanitary protection) to help girls stay in school.
"There are 9 000 000 girls in South Africa between the ages of 13 and 18. This is high school and menstruating
age. Their education is hindered by 25%, as these girls do not go to school whilst they are menstruating. That is one week every month. That is a massive set back in their high school career. The reason for this is that they do not have sanitary wear. If there is money in the family it first goes to food not feminine hygiene.
ACTION PLAN
We responsible citizens, need an action plan to educate the future of our country for our grandchildren’s sake.
We can’t make it anyone else’s problem. It is up to us to make the difference.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
By pledging R220 (excluding postage/courier fees), this will supply one school girl 3 pairs of panties
AND 9 clip on washable sanitary pads, which will last for 5 years."
R200 is just under $17.  I can think of no better way to change a girl's life.  Whilst this initiative is currently South African based, there has been huge interest from neighbouring countries, and there is no reason why this product cannot be used to achieve a similar outcome across the developing world.
If you like, I'll issue you a challenge.  For every girl you can show you've sponsored, I'll match that. smile

Last edited by harbinger (6-28-2017 3:54 AM)

 

#10 6-28-2017 7:53 AM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Just to reply to your last comment - in terms of purchasing power, I think that your money would probably buy more in South East Asia than Africa, as the cost of living is lower. People assume that because Africa is 'poor', living costs are cheap ... far from it ...

 

#11 6-28-2017 12:04 PM

Apurva_N
Apurva
New Delhi, India
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Wanderer
Posts: 389

Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Interesting thread... also set me thinking about a brief trip to DR Congo in 2013...

 

#12 6-28-2017 8:04 PM

Sept922
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Re: Cost of living in Congo (purchase power) to know for gifts to locals?

Yes..interesting thread...Sarah nailed it as far as I am concerned

 
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