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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Why twin your town?
Lakeside Kisumu
Kisumu has been twinned with Cheltenham for 20 years

BBC Africa Live next Wednesday explores the pros and cons of twinning - the process where a local council, hospital or school becomes paired up with another in a different country or continent.

What happens when a primary school in Ghana is twinned with another in England or a hospital in Senegal is linked with another in France?

For instance, Kenya's fishing town of Kisumu and UK's home of horse racing, Cheltenham, struck up their friendship 20 years ago. What has been the outcome of their relationship?

Do you know of a school or town or hospital that has benefited from such an arrangement?

We want to hear the experiences of people who have visited their twinned institutions and their hosts. What makes a good twinning relationship?

Or perhaps you are just curious about what this whole twinning thing is, and the benefits it brings.

This debate is now closed. You may like to contact the schools twinning programe

Africa Live will be twinning BBC local FM stations in the UK with African FM stations during the week of 4th to 8th July in a series of live daily broadcasts at 18.00GMT.

Whether you are the richer or poorer twin, you have just as much to offer
Phil Hatchard, Exeter

The cooperation between cities for example in Italy and cities in Central America, Belgium and the Lebanon - or the Canton of Geneve with the city of Matagalpa in Nicaragua - helped to foster solidarity between communities in the "north" and in the "south". I used to work for UNOPS, the management agency of the United Nations and found that partners at the level of cities and municipalities bring with them a wealth of specialized knowledge and interest to build linkages.
Katrin Lichtenberg, Switzerland

We support schools to develop partnerships and see the contribution this makes to young people's awareness of the wider world, to their motivation and not least to the raising of standards in schools. Well done, BBC.
Judith Hemery, UK

School partnerships must be based on mutuality, equality, learning and sustainability.
James Keegan, UK
The British Council is part of a consortium of organisations that manages the programme for schools on behalf of the British Department for International Development (DFID). A core set of values reflects our common belief that if global school partnerships are to be effective in raising awareness of global development issues, school partnerships must be based on mutuality, equality, learning and sustainability.
James Keegan, U.K

It amazes me that so many of the comments focus exclusively on the exchange of material goods, whether taking a positive or negative view of it. To me, that has little or nothing to do with twinning, which should be a social and cultural tie. Learning about other cultures can only broaden your horizons and should be an integral part of everyone's education. Ignorance of other cultures is probably the main root cause of conflict in the world. If only everybody learnt to try and understand other people's point of view the world would be a much happier place. Whether you are the richer or poorer twin, you have just as much to offer. If charity happens to be involved, it should never be the basis of the relationship.
Phil Hatchard, Exeter, UK

Haarlem in the Netherlands has a very active twinning relation with Mutare in Zimbabwe.There are projects on housing, health, culture, environment and sport. For sport there are volunteers and professionals working in Mutare. The Sports Leaders Project is an example in sport and development for the rest of the world. The twinning arrangement is really at grass roots level and in these difficult times in Zimbabwe, the twinning proves what really friendship means!
Cees Versteeg, The Netherlands

Out of this friendship we can benefit from expertise and financial support espicially if the other twin town is from the developed world.
Lilian Kimeto, Kenya

The twinning idea is good especially for developing countries like Kenya.Out of this friendship we can benefit from expertise and financial support espicially if the other twin town is from the developed world. However, this is bound to create some dependency by the least developed twin town and kills creativity in the minds of residents who rely on its developed friend for all the support.
Lilian Kimeto, Kenya

Dear Shelley from the UK. Its clear to me that you don't know much about colonialisation. Europe practically destroyed Africa with colonialisation, and its Africans, not Europeans, paying the price. What else are we to do if we want to survive the next generation. Hipocrate is not the right word, Shelley, it is despair.
Jan Labuscagne, South Africa

Twins in Africa have a mystery to them, they're people who always have each others back so I think twinning would help us develop because you have a twin who has got your back.
Leslie Hills, Ghana

Lusaka benefited when it was hit by cholera epidemic with a lot medical aid from Dushambe City in Tajikistan, simply because Lusaka was twinned with Dushambe.
Aubrey Chindefu, Zambia

Twinning has it good and bad points. Twinning in business and education is good for us in Africa especially in terms of technology transfer but I'm not in favour of twinning towns. This is because we Africans have our way of doing things, our culture will stand a big risk of eradication if we twin our towns and cities with say to a town in Europe. But at a whole Africa loses in any twinning arrangement. Nothing comes from a whiteman for free; they give with the left hand and take with the right.
Victor Okonkwo, Cameroon

I don't buy this concept of cities twinning. Much as western efforts are being made towards eradicating poverty in Africa by every city being twinned with other western cities, Africa will remain in poverty for quite some time.
Abba Beneth, Tanzania

Similar things happen in India where twinned councils exist, and most of their clients belong to the high society of the nation
Shib SenChaudhury, Calcutta, India

I think twinning of organisations is a part of globalisation. However, the twinning scheme as it exists at the moment lines the pockets of the fat cat families from poor nations in Africa. Similar things happen in India where twinned councils exist, and most of their clients belong to the high society of the nation. Therefore, it's always a pro to higher class and con to the lower class of the country. One of the major reason for widening gap between rich and poors.
Shib SenChaudhury, Calcutta, India

I do not think twinning an African town with another African town makes any sense because most African towns are still developing and do not have enough resources to share with others. The essence is not to identify similarity in cultural identity or being aware of the same kind of problems as Ngum Ngafor in England puts it below. The twinning programme is a laudable initiative that might urge local authorities to aspire to certain expected standards of development that could be copied from the west. A few years ago, the town of Bamenda Cameroon was twinned to a Dutch town in Holland. Before long, six rubbish collection vans though old, landed in Bamenda. This has greatly improved the degree of sanitation in the Bamenda municipality.
Samuel Fungwa, Cameroon/Cyprus

here are often exchange programmes and opportunities for students to visit Cheltenham but only the people close to the powers that be benefit
Jackline Onyango, Berlin

For developing countries, like Liberia, I believe twinning is another way of developing our cities and whatever that is twined.
Larry Melling, Liberia

I come from Kisumu and I know that Cheltenham is our sister city. There are often exchange programmes and opportunities for students to visit Cheltenham but only the people close to the powers that be benefit. It's been like this for a long time and most of us dont know the benefits of having a sister city. For twinning to succeed, the authorities must be honest and include all sectors of the community.
Jackline Onyango, Kenyan in Berlin

Why are we only talking about twinning between African and western towns? What about twinning between african towns? I think that could be very constructive as these towns probably share similar interests, culture and even problems.
Ngum Ngafor, England

Twinning of towns and cities should go beyond just the giving of "emergency relief items" or just making a name for onself to show how much wealthier or resourceful the givers are and how poor and insignificant the receivers are. Twinning of towns is another way of the exploitors expressing their guilt and wanting give back to the exploited.
Roland S. Weah, Liberian in Washington, D.C.

As I sit here in Indiana, US, I reflect on the many people I know from all continents and it gives me pleasure knowing that if it hadn't been for the exchange programs, I may not have been prepared for my time here in the US for my studies
Ruth Nduta Gicheru, Indiana

My high school (SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College (SOS-HGIC), Tema Ghana) has a "partnership" with the Lillestrøm vederegående Skole in Lillestrøm, Norway, The American School of Paris (ASP) in Paris, France and the St. Paul's High School in New Hampshire, USA. At the beginning much emphasis was placed on "community service" partnerships between these schools. They would send some teachers and students to my high school, to engage in service activities with students of the school in Tema. These schools assisted in some of the already-established activities e.g.building projects and basic school supplies for some of the disadvantaged communities who we worked closely with. People fostered relationships that still exist today. I was fortunate to be among the students selected to visit the Lillestrøm vederegående Skole in Norway. It was an experience that I relive everyday of my life. As I sit here in Indiana, US, it gives me pleasure knowing that if it hadn't been for the exchange programs, I may not have been prepared for my time here in the US for my studies, I may not have even learnt to associate with people of different cultures and background. Most of these affiliations aid in teaching a student what the classroom does not provide readily. They are really an eye-opener!
Ruth Nduta Gicheru, Indiana, USA (Kenya and Ghana)

I do know of an instant in the 1980's when Baltimore in the U.S signed a pack with the City of Monrovia which enabled officials from the two sister states visited each other and Monrovia benefitted immesel. Garbages trucks were donated to Monrovia city corporation to help with the collections of garbage and I think J.F.K hospital too benefitted from a donation of drugs to help with the hospital's acute drugs shortage.

Both sides of the twinning pair benefits by learning different cultures and discover exotic places they would otherwise miss in their lives. Twinning improves knowledge and diversity.
David Karani, Helsinki, Finland

I think twinning is a great idea! However my main problem with twinning arrangements between developing countries and their rich counterparts is that the benefits always seem to be one-sided! Is there nothing we can contribute instead of always looking for hand-outs? I know about twinning arrangements between towns and cities (eg local authorities) in the Southern African region. These relations are helpful because people from different countries with similar economies can share ideas,organise cultural exchanges and enjoy a somewhat simbiotic relationship on an equal footing.

A new concept in Africa and its benefits are minimal
Yussuf Dayib Ali, Nairobi/Kenya

This is a new concept in Africa and its benefits are minimal. Kisumu city in western Kenya was one of the cleanest and developed towns even before twinning with Cheltenham. African cities and towns don't require twinning with other developed cities for prosperous development.
Yussuf Dayib Ali, Nairobi/Kenya

More twinning will help reduce suspicion that is largely due to ignorance - the west (rich) suspecting the south (poor) of perenial begging and trying to "finish" their (rich) riches and the poor suspecting the rich of coming to oppress and colonise. I am using the words loosely here. The poor will generally feel that they have nothing to offer, while the rich will feel that they should always offer "material" wealth. Both of these are practically true but not very helpful in the long term. Sharing of knowledge is the most important.
Christopher Khuoge, Malawian in Essex, UK

I will advise that people try to form friendships with a family or someone from a different part of the world to get to know their cultures and beliefs.
Collins Boakye - Agyemang, UK
Twinning creates opportunities for cultural, social, and educational exchanges which fosters closer links and mutual understanding among people from different parts of the world. Globalisation has resulted in all of us living in an interdependent world where we both compete and co - operate with each other. I will advise that people try to form friendships with a family or someone from a different part of the world to get to know their cultures and beliefs. You will be amazed what you will learn.
Collins Boakye - Agyemang, UK

Twinning - such as that mentioned between Kisumu (Kenya) and Cheltenham (UK) - is evidence of the human spirit resplendent in a world otherwise fuelled by greed and exploitation. The result can be much more than the exchange of tangible resources. Instead, unconditional friendships defy prejudice, racism, politics and man-made borders. What a beautiful concept!
Gonza Kagwa, Sydney/Australia

Kumasi, a city in Ghana, had a twin relationship with Charlotte, a city in US. Charlotte provided money for the construction of toilets facilities in Kumasi. Other services were agreed, but then it seemed the relationship was messed up and put on ice. It could have been a very good program for Kumasi.
James Appiah, USA

Twinning is a powerful tool for development if done well
Andrew Murphy, USA
The best example I saw was between the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary (Ghana) and the Calgary Zoo (Canada). The relationship started when Calgary Zoo (CZ) gave a small grant to help some local chiefs start the sanctuary. Since then three chiefs from Wechiau travelled to Canada in 2003 to help open the CZ's new Hippo exhibit and then the CZ head reciprocated and visited Ghana where he was made a chief. The Hippo Sanctuary protects the environment, provides jobs to local youth (cooks, rangers, tour guides) and brings income to local artisans. The relationship has spawned other projects, including potable water and solar power. The organization that I worked with, The Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC), a Ghananian NGO, hopes to promote conservation in Ghana and West Africa through such reciprocal relationships. The most important elements are:

  • to have clearly articulated goals
  • commited and transparent leadership
  • a mechanism to bring the parties together (NCRC)
  • clear understanding of the relationship in the local community
  • opportunities for cultural exchange
  • constant communication
  • sound method of accounting for funds
  • an exit plan
    Andrew Murphy, USA

    How do the ratepayers of the Western town benefit?
    Fred, UK

Modernised colonialisation
Chidi Muoghalu, UK
This is a modernised form of colonialisation. Soon the West will start a new empire as it was done in the past.
Chidi Muoghalu, Hertfordshire UK

Chidi Muoghalu. It amazes me that people like you are happy to complain about "white colonialists" and yet you are happy to come and live in the UK? Hypocrite.
Shelley, UK

There are more mutual benefits than odds for both. Moi University's Thatcher Library was built, equiped and stocked on a twinning basis. If more ventures were borne, there would be no cause for suspicions.
A Change, Bristol

Some of us in richer towns can help poorer towns
Amjad, Rochdale/UK
My town of Rochdale (UK) is twinned with some towns in Europe and one in Pakistan. When the Lviv air disaster occured in the Ukraine, the Rochdale people donated as it was our twin town. We also send ambulances to Sahiwal in Pakistan as they have inadequate medical equipment. Those of us in richer towns can help make a difference in poorer towns across the world.
Amjad , Rochdale, UK

Yes, twinning is a good idea. Twinning began in earnest after the Second World War when the rebuilding of links between European countries was more necessary than ever. That is why so many of the early links were with Germany and France. In recent years the tendency is for local European authorities to link with towns outside Europe to reflect their ethnic make-up. However the EU, for example, has not allocated enough money to promote this noble idea among Europeans and people from developing countries.
Wossen, London/Uk

As a teenager at school in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (UK) we spent some time in Gelsenkirchen in Germany. This opened my eyes to a new world and gave me a taste for travel. Some 30 years later I have spent 20 years travelling and my life is certainly richer for that first experience brought about by twin towning.
Richard Walls, Bahrain

Recently in one of the oldest cities in Nigeria some local schools were given science equipment and football kits by their counterpart in London.
Joseph Bello, Nigeria

A relationship based on mutual respect
Ngum Ngafor, UK
As long as it is a relationship based on mutual respect and not a mask for gifts that come with strings, then twinning isn't such a bad thing.
Ngum Ngafor, England/UK

The twinning of towns and schools is another way of bringing our world together. My home county in Liberia, called Bong County, is supposed to have got her name from a place in Germany also called Bong. I really don¿t know, but I do remember in 1989 that they (Bong in Germany) denoted some trucks to Bong in Liberia for refuge collections and to confirm the two towns' relationship.
Stephen S.M. Bendah, Liberian/Ghana

Twinning is good if both parties keep their promises
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA
A few years ago some local authority in Nigeria twinned with another in Chicago, US. As a result, the Nigerian local authority received some hospital equipment donated by their counterpart. Officials from Nigeria visited Chicago and vice versa to see how well they could benefit from each other in the area of administration, healthcare, agriculture and technology etc. Twinning is a very good thing if both parties are able to keep to their promises. The benefit of twinning is enormous.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

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