Drought is an act of nature, famine is man-made

Check out this new campaign video by ONE.org

[youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dzcRSr6PW_o]

You can sign the petition here.

HT HuffPost

the mdgs

Since everyone is currently talking about the MDGs and how they may or may not be achieved on time here is a nice piece from Bill Easterly.

According to an Oxfam study, eliminating US cotton subsidies would “improve the welfare of over one million West African households – 10 million people – by increasing their incomes from cotton by 8 to 20 per cent”.

I may not always agree with Bill but I think his basic approach to development is spot on. Just like in most human endeavors (politics, economics, sports) systems based on human goodwill are bound to fail while those based on self-interestedness thrive. There is no magic bullet in development, but there is definitely a better approach than is currently being employed. Lets not forget that aid is supposed to eventually lead to self-reliance.

It is already clear that the goals will not be met by their target date of 2015. One can already predict that the ruckus accompanying this failure will be loud about aid, but mostly silent about trade. It will also be loud about the failure of state actions to promote development, but mostly silent about the lost opportunities to allow poor countries’ efficient private business people to lift themselves out of poverty.

Bono has a slightly less realistic more hopeful take on the progress towards achieving the MDGs.

africa headed for mdg disappointment

As African leaders continue to be preoccupied with civil strife and trying to hang on to power, figures indicate that the region will be the only place on the planet to have not met the millenium development goals by the deadline of 2015.

Child mortality, fertility, illiteracy, extreme poverty, among other indicators are still depressingly grim for this region of the world. The little or no growth experienced over the last two decades has all been swallowed up by a stratospheric fertility rate – all but one of the countries with fertility rates of more than 5 children per woman are in Africa. The number of Africans living in extreme poverty has increased by 90 million.

It is very depressing that the only people who seem to be disturbed by these aweful projections are non-Africans like Bono and Jeff Sachs and not the people who have contributed to the mess – the greedy, mostly illiterate kleptocrats who rule most of the continent.

If the trend is not reversed soon, the African future will be a re-run of post-79 Africa – a vast and dry continent that seems to have more than its fair share of famines, wars, disease and inexplicably high levels of poverty and suffering that belong in the premodern periods of human history. This is the reality that hundreds of millions of Africans are facing.