Saturday, September 17, 2005

UN plans to end large-scale food aid to Niger

BBC news Sep 16 says Niger's prime minister lashed out at donors, saying it was necessary to stop the aid so that Niger does not become reliant on aid:
Niger's PM agrees with UN plans to end large-scale food aid, which he described as an affront to the country's dignity.

"Our dignity suffered. And we've seen how people exploit images to pledge aid that never arrives to those who really need it."

The UN's World Food Programme maintains that cutting aid now will allow food prices in Niger to normalise after escalating during months of severe shortages.

MSF has warned that with almost a million people not yet fed, it is too soon to stop aid.

BBC's Hilary Andersson in Niger says that almost a million people who need it have still received no food aid at all and it is now six weeks since the aid began flowing into Niger in large quantities. She says that large numbers of young children are still dying in feeding centres.

An assessment by MSF this week indicates that more than 40 people a day are dying in just one area that they surveyed.
See full story by BBC September 16, 2005.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sudan: Spotlight on Darfur 1 and The Darfur Collection

Huge thanks to Catez Stevens in New Zealand for initiating and hosting Spotlight on Darfur 1, a great round up of posts authored by 14 different bloggers from around the world.

Spotlight On Darfur

Catez also produced The Darfur Collection last May.

Please email Catez at Allthings2all if you have a post for the next Spotlight on Darfur 2 or 3.

Picture courtesy Tim Sweetman's post Let Us Weep.

Thanks to Global Voices for their third post and links to my blog Congo Watch featuring this initiative.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina aid - Blogbursts - Spotlight on Darfur 1 and Darfur Collection

Further to an earlier post here below, I have just received word from Catez saying Spotlight on Darfur has been put forward to 5 September as the blogosphere has had planned blogbursts on Hurricane Katrina aid. This means bloggers can email Catez with posts until Sunday 4 September.

Thanks to Global Voices for picking up on my post at Congo Watch publicising the initiative.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Can aid do more harm than good? Who is spinning lies?

As noted here in previous posts, Niger's President Mamadou Tandja recently said his country was experiencing food shortages but not a famine. He accused aid agencies of exaggerating the food crisis for their own gain, raising serious issues about the way aid emergencies are handled.

American blogger Ethan Zuckerman points out that Henri Astier, a BBC correspondent, after talking to aid workers and experts on African aid, concluded, on balance, that President Tanja was probably right and quoted Professor William Easterly of NYU, as saying:
"There were localised food shortages this year - but they were not particularly acute, and are now easing.

What Niger is experiencing is not a sudden catastrophe, but chronic malnutrition that makes people vulnerable to rises in food prices."
Note, the report also quotes Professor Easterly as saying
"I think NGOs and rich country media do have an incentive to paint too simplistic and bleak a picture, as was the case in Niger's food crisis."
So, going by the above [which does not appear to touch on issues of African politics, land ownership rights, corruption, looting, violence and arms dealing] they seem to be saying:
food aid can distort 'functioning' markets, causing increased food insecurity in the long term;
regional solutions are needed to solve shortages that are not regional famine - so long as participating governments allow that trade to happen and international donors are able to help subsidise food to poorer areas when neccesary.
Note, Ethan praises the BBC saying it provides a terrific space where people from outside Africa can discover, if they listen, that their proposed solutions are often - strongly and validly - opposed by the people they're trying to help.

Unless I have missed something, there still seems to be no proper explanation of who was behind the surge in alarming media reports falsely accusing the world of turning its back on the starving people of Niger.

Who is doing the spin? And why are they getting away with such misleading news? My guess is we are left to believe aid agencies are the culprits. Propaganda is everywhere in the media. It's hard to believe much of what is published. There is so little investigative reporting, the media treats us like simpletons, feeding us by the minute with nuggets of junk.
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Irish Famine Memorial in Boston

Irish famine memorial in Boston

Lest We Forget - Irish Famine Memorial in Boston
Photo courtesy
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EU starving the developing world

Captain Marlow writes an insightful post on the EU starving the developing world. The post ends by saying:
"Sadly, everything has become a political issue and it is now impossible to trust reports on biotech, ecology, global warming. Numbers are manipulated to score political points, not to describe facts. The various activists seem to have played a self-defeating game here, since no one believes their alarmism anymore. The problem is that we all lose if we play this game instead of seriously looking for solutions."