[Hpn] Food Relief Will Never Be The Solution To Poverty

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 21 Aug 2005 07:04:23 -0400


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http://www.sundayvision.co.ug/detail.php?newsCategoryId=3D141&newsId=3D45=
1584


            Food relief will never be the solution to poverty=20
                =20
                  THE WRITER: Sachs
                =20
            NIGER'S food emergency has reached the world's headlines, =
but the crisis there is only one part of a much larger disaster.=20

            On an extended trip this summer through rural areas of Asia, =
the Middle East, and Africa on behalf of the UN, I visited countless =
villages afflicted with extreme hunger, and struggling to survive =
against the odds.=20

            The villages that I visited - in Tajikistan, Yemen, Mali, =
Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi, Cambodia and elsewhere - reflect the condition =
of hundreds of millions of impoverished people worldwide. Whether caused =
by drought, exhausted soils, locusts, lack of high-yield seeds, the =
results were the same: desperation, disease, and death.=20

            Incredibly, the actions of the richest countries have =
intensified the hunger crisis. Even today, donor governments' aid =
efforts are poorly directed. They respond to hunger emergencies such as =
Niger's with food relief, but fail to help with long-lasting solutions.=20

            The expanding hunger crisis reflects a lethal combination of =
growing rural populations and inadequate food yields. Rural populations =
are growing because poor farm households choose to have many children, =
who work as farmhands and serve as social security for their parents. =
This intensifies poverty in the next generation, as average farm sizes =
shrink.=20

            The problem is especially severe in landlocked countries =
where high transport costs leave villages isolated from markets, and in =
regions that depend on rainfall rather than river-based irrigation.=20

            These impoverished villages need financial help to buy vital =
inputs for farming and to invest in basic infrastructure such as roads =
and electrification.=20

            Instead, donor governments and the World Bank have insisted =
for years that impoverished countries cut financing to these villages, =
under the guise of promoting "macroeconomic stability" - a polite way of =
demanding debt repayment - and reflecting the ideological delusion that =
the private sector will step in.=20

            Instead, these policies have left hundreds of millions of =
people even more desperately poor and hungry, and even more vulnerable =
to drought, pests, and soil depletion. Millions die each year, either of =
outright starvation or from infectious diseases that their weakened =
bodies cannot withstand.=20

            And still, after 20 years of preaching that private markets =
would pick up the slack, these impoverished communities are further away =
than ever from using improved seeds, fertilisers, and small-scale water =
management technologies.=20

            The irony is that donors then respond with very expensive =
emergency food aid, which typically proves to be too little and too =
late. A shipment of an equivalent dollar amount of fertiliser and =
improved seeds from, say, the US to Africa would yield perhaps five =
times more food.=20

            This is a year of both widespread hunger and solemn promises =
by the rich countries. But emergency food aid is not enough. =
Impoverished communities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia are ripe =
for a "green revolution," based on modern scientific techniques for =
managing soils, water, and seed varieties.=20


            Donors should lend their support by backing long-term =
solutions aimed at increasing food production, slowing population growth =
and mitigating long-term global climate change.=20

            Project Syndicate=20

            Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth =
Institute at Columbia University=20


            Published on: Sunday, 21st August, 2005
          =20
            Email this article to a friend.
          =20
    =20
    =20


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          <TD class=3Dheadline1>Food relief will never be the solution =
to=20
          poverty</TD></TR>
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                  <P class=3DcaptionRight>THE WRITER:=20
Sachs</P></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
            <P>NIGER'S food emergency has reached the world=92s =
headlines, but the=20
            crisis there is only one part of a much larger disaster. =
<BR><BR>On=20
            an extended trip this summer through rural areas of Asia, =
the Middle=20
            East, and Africa on behalf of the UN, I visited countless =
villages=20
            afflicted with extreme hunger, and struggling to survive =
against the=20
            odds. <BR><BR>The villages that I visited =97 in Tajikistan, =
Yemen,=20
            Mali, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi, Cambodia and elsewhere =97 =
reflect the=20
            condition of hundreds of millions of impoverished people =
worldwide.=20
            Whether caused by drought, exhausted soils, locusts, lack of =

            high-yield seeds, the results were the same: desperation, =
disease,=20
            and death. <BR><BR>Incredibly, the actions of the richest =
countries=20
            have intensified the hunger crisis. Even today, donor =
governments=92=20
            aid efforts are poorly directed. They respond to hunger =
emergencies=20
            such as Niger=92s with food relief, but fail to help with =
long-lasting=20
            solutions. <BR><BR>The expanding hunger crisis reflects a =
lethal=20
            combination of growing rural populations and inadequate food =
yields.=20
            Rural populations are growing because poor farm households =
choose to=20
            have many children, who work as farmhands and serve as =
social=20
            security for their parents. This intensifies poverty in the =
next=20
            generation, as average farm sizes shrink. <BR><BR>The =
problem is=20
            especially severe in landlocked countries where high =
transport costs=20
            leave villages isolated from markets, and in regions that =
depend on=20
            rainfall rather than river-based irrigation. <BR><BR>These=20
            impoverished villages need financial help to buy vital =
inputs for=20
            farming and to invest in basic infrastructure such as roads =
and=20
            electrification. <BR><BR>Instead, donor governments and the =
World=20
            Bank have insisted for years that impoverished countries cut =

            financing to these villages, under the guise of promoting=20
            =93macroeconomic stability=94 =97 a polite way of demanding =
debt repayment=20
            =97 and reflecting the ideological delusion that the private =
sector=20
            will step in. <BR><BR>Instead, these policies have left =
hundreds of=20
            millions of people even more desperately poor and hungry, =
and even=20
            more vulnerable to drought, pests, and soil depletion. =
Millions die=20
            each year, either of outright starvation or from infectious =
diseases=20
            that their weakened bodies cannot withstand. <BR><BR>And =
still,=20
            after 20 years of preaching that private markets would pick =
up the=20
            slack, these impoverished communities are further away than =
ever=20
            from using improved seeds, fertilisers, and small-scale =
water=20
            management technologies. <BR><BR>The irony is that donors =
then=20
            respond with very expensive emergency food aid, which =
typically=20
            proves to be too little and too late. A shipment of an =
equivalent=20
            dollar amount of fertiliser and improved seeds from, say, =
the US to=20
            Africa would yield perhaps five times more food. =
<BR><BR>This is a=20
            year of both widespread hunger and solemn promises by the =
rich=20
            countries. But emergency food aid is not enough. =
Impoverished=20
            communities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia are ripe for =
a=20
            =93green revolution,=94 based on modern scientific =
techniques for=20
            managing soils, water, and seed varieties. =
<BR><BR><BR>Donors should=20
            lend their support by backing long-term solutions aimed at=20
            increasing food production, slowing population growth and =
mitigating=20
            long-term global climate change. <BR><B><BR>Project =
Syndicate=20
            <BR><BR>Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the =
Earth=20
            Institute at Columbia University <BR></P>
            <P>Published on: <B>Sunday, 21st August, =
2005</B></P></B></TD></TR>
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oryId=3D7&amp;newsCategoryId=3D141&amp;newsId=3D451584">Email=20
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