Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Food Crisis Worsens in Central Africa

Read between the lines of this New York Times "green" article and do a little research, and you'll find food aid is often the cause of the crisis in these intractable hunger areas. Their governments use the food aid to hold the people hostage and to relocate them at will; the food aid depresses prices driving farmers from the land.

Food Crisis Worsens in Central Africa - NYTimes.com

Today's WSJ reviewed a new book on the outcomes of money gathered from the feel-good Live Aid concert. The government of Ethiopia killed more people than the famine through forced resettlement. You can read sections of the book at Google. "Famine and foreigners, Ethiopia since Live Aid," by Peter Gill.
    As Gill notes, aid agencies (generally foreign) have been involved (and/or meddling) in Ethiopia for decades now, as have foreign governments, and the roles of these often very well-backed foreign governments and institutions has played a part in the course various famines (and periods where famine was a threat) took. In the mid-1980s, for example, the Derg imposed a mass resettlement policy, trying to move people from one area of the country to another. They often did so forcefully, and the policy divided both the nations providing aid as well as the aid agencies with their differing policies of non-interference and conceptions of sovereignty.

    As Gill repeatedly notes, many aid agencies did very well by the famines -- in getting cash, raising their profiles, becoming players. While avoiding outright condemnation, Gill does note that, for example, Oxfam in particular not only expanded rapidly into a dominant player, but eventually also was closely tied to the British Labour government -- and that its self-interest seem to have influenced at least some aid-decisions, such as silence on the resettlement policy. (On the other hand, he seems to approve of Médecins Sans Frontières' (Doctors without Borders') focus solely on conditions on the ground, and indifference to stepping on anyone's (and particularly any government's) toes.) Link

No comments: