Tag Archives: international development

WikiProject: International Development

From here

“…while trying to find examples of international development academics who are using web 2.0 tools to gather research data, I came across this wikiproject on International Development. At the moment, its more of an idea for a project than an actual project, but it aims to create “a powerful, practical and empowering resource which people everywhere can use to improve their own lives. Other people can also improve their understanding, whether they are involved in aid and development, or in politics, or in the broader public, thus raising awareness and understanding of the issues.” The wiki nature of the project means that the template is there, but its still got to be filled in. There’s a to-do list that users (ie, you and me) can take on parts of until the project is complete. I’ve never contributed to a wiki but perhaps I might start.”

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Summit that’s hard to swallow – world leaders enjoy 18-course banquet as they discuss how to solve global food crisis

Food shortages mean starving for these Ethiopians

Food shortages mean starving for these Ethiopians

James Chapman writing for the Daily Mail

Just two days ago, Gordon Brown was urging us all to stop wasting food and combat rising prices and a global shortage of provisions.

But yesterday the Prime Minister and other world leaders sat down to an 18-course gastronomic extravaganza at a G8 summit in Japan, which is focusing on the food crisis.

The dinner, and a six-course lunch, at the summit of leading industrialised nations on the island of Hokkaido, included delicacies such as caviar, milkfed lamb, sea urchin and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the U.S.

G8 leaders discussing the world food crisis in Japan raise their glasses ahead of an 18-course dinner

G8 leaders discussing the world food crisis in Japan raise their glasses ahead of an 18-course dinner

 G8 leaders discussing the world food crisis in Japan raise their glasses ahead of an 18-course dinner

But the extravagance of the menus drew disapproval from critics who thought it hypocritical to produce such a lavish meal when world food supplies are under threat.

On Sunday, Mr Brown called for prudence and thrift in our kitchens, after a Government report concluded that 4.1million tonnes of food was being wasted by householders.

He suggested we could save up to £8 a week by making our shopping go further. It was vital to reduce ‘unnecessary demand’ for food, he said. Continue reading

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Filed under Development, Food Security, International Aid, Poverty

women in charge – long live the peasant!

Just read this excellent piece on an erudite blog:

Why the success story of Rwandan women and economy doesn’t even make it to “International News”? The section “International Development” sometimes appears to be a token gesture of goodwill; to prove the readers the Guardian Weekly is still a paper with the critical edge. If the paper didn’t have an “International Development” section, would they have published the story about Rwandan women rescuing the country’s economy in another section or would it have remained unpublished? Who is the readership of the “International Development” section? Do economists read it? In short, my question remains: as a person interested in feminist economics, I want to know what makes the “real” economy news?

As far as I’m concerned, “Women take charge in Rwanda” is an important and interesting piece of economy news – plus a welcome change to the usual complaints of oil prices, sub-prime crises and the like. This article tells that “Female entrepreneurs in industries from agribusiness to tourism have been key to efforts to rebuild the nation and fight poverty. Women, far more than men, invest profits in the family, renovate homes, improve nutrition, increase savings and spend on children’s education. This seismic shift in gender economics in Rwanda is altering the way younger generations of males view their mothers and sisters, while offering a powerful lesson for other developing nations.”…

This is the case not only in Rwanda. “In 1990 a major study on poverty in Brazil, published in the Journal of Human Resources, showed that the effect of money managed by women in poor households was 20 times more likely to be spent on improving conditions in the home than money managed by men. In Bangladesh the Grameen Bank has focused its microloans on women. Microloan programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America have shown similar results.”

So this stuff doesn’t cut it for the economy section? Aren’t there some golden nuggets for both economists and policy wonks dealing with questions of poverty? Are the economy sections even in left-leaning newspapers the last bastion of the master narratives? The best irony of all is that also in that same paper, Guardian Weekly, June 13, 08, there was a “Comment&Debate” piece by George Monbiot — on small farmers being the planet’s best hope!!! (That was on page 24.)

Monbiot claims that Robert Mugabe is right, at least in theory. He writes: “Although the rich world’s governments won’t hear it, the issue of whether or not the world will be fed is partly a function of ownership. This reflects an unexpected discovery, first made in 1962 by the Nobel economist Amartya Sen and since confirmed by dozens of studies. There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. Then smaller they are, the greater the yield. In some cases the difference is enormous. A recent study in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are 20 times as productive as farms of more than 10 hectares. Sen’s observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It appears to hold almost everywhere.”

The successes of Green Revolution didn’t last very long – a fact that’s often omitted in pro-gene technology geeks and others. Today in India, the Green Revolution results can be seen, among other things, in the alarming rates of farmer suicides. Monbiot asserts that “There are plenty of other reasons for defending small farmers in poor countries. The economic miracles in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan arose from their land reform programmes. … Growth based on small farms tends to be more equitable than growth built around capital-intensive industries. Although their land is used intesively, the total ecological impact of smallholdings is lower.”

Monbiot points out, like others have done before, the prejudice against small farmers. We use the word ‘peasant’ to insult and look down upon others. In our modern imagination, peasant implies backwardness if not primitiveness. But as Monbiot notes, “when you call someone a peasant, you are accusing them of being self-reliant and productive.” And it’s not only the self-styled modern individuals dissing farmers, but organizations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and OECD who argue that small farms are not productive enough.

Monbiot writes: “Like Mugabe, the donor countries and big international bodies loudly demand that small farmers be supported, while quietly shafting them. Big business is killing small farming.” I would add the media to this conspiracy. In addition, most journalists, including Monbiot, miss the gender analysis in their articles.

Full post here

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Filed under Africa, Development, gender, Land

Making Aid Work

Making Aid Work
Dr. Samia Altaf, a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center

“National development is a complicated undertaking for any emerging nation. For Pakistan it involves especially delicate judgments because the constraints imposed by feudal tribes in distant territories, match the concerns caused by having a nuclear arsenal. In this charged environment the failure of international development aid resonates with profound impact. Dr. Samia Altaf explains why.”


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Filed under International Aid, Pakistan, Poverty