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.
- - -Irish Famine Memorial in Boston
Lest We Forget - Irish Famine Memorial in Boston
Photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/79586895@N00/35958094/
- - -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."
Tags: Niger media aid famine crisis BBC Ethan Zuckerman Africa corruption lies donors spin propaganda Irish famine Boston