War: Shit Street!

 

 

  • Refugee camp

Is there shelter from the storm? Most people know that war is hell; others have been desensitized by movies and war games. However, there is no fiction in reality. Those who have witnessed it know it is no fantasy. In recent years war has come to affect people in every country in one way or another.

An article in the www.nyt.com/2015/20/06 taking its information from the UN (UNHCR) tells us that there are around 60 million refugees in the world. The Economist uses the same figure but gives it a concrete context by linking it to the population of Italy; that’s a lot of people. Side Bar:

  • The new term for refugees is ‘displaced persons’. Displaced is a nice word but does not give sufficient gravity to the situation. Running from hell is not exactly being displaced; it’s fleeing for your life. We are not talking of a set of keys that you know will turn up.

There is no shortage of war zones. Middle East: Syria, Yemen and Iraq with the spread of Islamic revolution by ISIS. Sub-Sahara Africa with: Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, with another Islamic group Boko Haram. The surprise area for some will be Columbia in South America.

Why is there such a fire burning around the globe? A main reason is political power as in Syria where the dictatorial Assad regime is in conflict with groups seeking more democratic rights. The consequences are that nearly 50% of the population has been forced to flee their homes. Many have simply fled within the country but some 4 million have scattered abroad.

Neighbours, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and war torn Iraq have taken many Syrians in. The NYT suggest Egypt has 138,000; the Economist says Turkey has 1.7 million. It’s important to get the numbers right as aid being sent to the accommodating nations requires solid numbers to meet the need.

  • ISIS has driven an approximate 2.6 million Iraqis from their homes.

The civil war in Syria has affected 5 / 6 of its neighbours directly. However, the ramifications go much further. Thousands have made a dash for Europe or America. For Europe they have travelled to Libya, which itself is in turmoil, to find passage across the Mediterranean Sea. There is not a warm welcome in Europe because in their travels they meet up with other refugees from various parts of the world who are also escaping hell.

It is understandable that they want to flee the hell of their home nations to find the perceived stability elsewhere. The problem is that America is trying on a daily basis to stem the flood of migrants from South America. Europe, in a period of austerity, and a history over the last 20 years of conflict in the Balkans and presently in Ukraine, is panicked by the flow.

The influx of migrants has caused a political storm in Europe, which has seen a rise in radical parties. Politicians can’t ignore this trend. Hungary, is debating whether to construct a 100 mile fence to stop migrants crossing over from Serbia as numbers have increased from 30,000 to 100,000 in the past year. There is a huge cost in both political and financial terms in trying to cope with increasing numbers.

There are many poor people in the UK; some estimates suggest upward of 2.7 million families are affected. A large influx of economic migrants can have a direct impact on the poor by forcing wages down, putting pressure on housing and waiting lists for doctors, dentists etc. Thus little surprise that most poor people will not welcome migrants.

th67LNBAFYIn sub-Sahara Africa an estimated 15 million refugees have been forced from their homes. Ethiopia, houses an approximate 665,000 mainly from Somalia and South Sudan. An interesting point made by the NYT report was that most African refugees stay in Africa. Another point raised by the Economist is that 85% of refugees have sought shelter in developing countries.

It may appear cruel on those fleeing hell but developing nations often don’t have the resources to cope with an influx of refugees. Ethiopia is such a case. This country is still a recipient of foreign aid of over £200 million just to sustain their own population.

Unfortunately, those fleeing horror face further danger of exploitation. Even if they manage to reach the UK or USA they are used as cheap labour or forced into the sex trade. When it comes to humans there is no depth to their barbarity. The continued struggle in Columbia has caused the uprooting of around 6 million, 136,000 in 2014 alone. A further 360,000 have fled abroad to adjoining nations or perhaps trying to reach the USA.

If only there was an easy solution but being tied to politics, fear and cost there is no straightforward option. It is at a time like this that we witness the selfish gene come to the fore and this gene can be very erratic, and cruel.

Water: Too Good to Waste!

thNG4Z4Y0DWe are nearing a crisis of our own making, water the most important element in our lives is draining away. Drip, drip, drip; land is drying, plants are dying. While 70% of the earth is covered by water only 3% is drinkable and of that an approximate 2% is ice. The ice of Antarctica and of the Arctic is showing increasing signs of melt which could devastate coastal areas. To add to the nightmare 50% of our wetlands have gone. This has a tremendous impact on wildlife.

The burden grows heavier with the knowledge that some two (2) million people die annually, mainly children, from diarrheal diseases.th7E749LQY

www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity

The poorer regions of the developing world suffer the brunt of water shortage. Sub-thH8D57ZHVSahara Africa has enduring problems which show no signs of abating. The situation is made worse by, “Weak governments, corruption, mismanagement of resources, poor long-term investment and lack of environmental research…”. Conflict has made it difficult to make improvements; Ivory Coast, which split north & south four years ago. The on-going troubles which confront the nations of Darfur, Nigeria, Mali and Ethiopia conflict or famine here continues to wreak havoc. Surprisingly, Ethiopia is the most water abundant in the region.

www.cfr.org/world/water-stress-sub-saharan-africa/p11240

??? “Too often, where we need water we find guns” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

Overall, 25% of Africa’s population suffer from water stress. (www.cfr.org) Whereas, Ethiopia has sufficient water, the country of South Africa is one of the poorest in water terms. However, S. Africa has some 589 dams out of a total of 980 in the region. Here lies the key, S. Africa has the infrastructure and has better managed their resources and crucially has the means. We spend £/$ billions on aid in Africa and nothing seems from the outside to have improved.

Q? Is much of the charitable donation we make feeding war and corruption and not the people?

In Pakistan, the situation is reaching danger point. Population is increasing by three (3) million per year and the water table is falling which has led the World Bank to conclude that Pakistan, “…is already one of the most water stressed countries in the world”. Its neighbour India has a developing water crisis.

With population growing by 15 million annually and the water table falling all over the country the situation is becoming critical. Some districts have to have water trucked in. A major problem is the unregulated digging of irrigation wells of which there are an estimated twenty-one (21) million. With the water table falling and more wells being dug; how long before the government take control. www.theguardian.com

th6IKNYANAAlso, according to The Guardian, countries that have reached their water peak include: Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. In Saudi Arabia and Yemen it is understood that their water table is falling by six (6’) feet year on year. In Saudi Arabia over a 20 year period the aquifers have been seriously depleted which has had an impact on its grain crop. The country now has to import 15 million tonnes annually. Yemen will now need to import all its grain.

A running commentary on the problems facing Iran and Tehran in particular can be accessed via ‘Our Man in Tehran’. A series of articles is available at NYT World 2015/05/05. The issues are similar to many nations: water table depletion, rising population in Tehran which has tripled over the last thirty (30) years, made worse by a fall in average rainfall.

The great and the powerful are not immune to the rigours of water stress. China will face immense problems as water use is at a peak which will affect grain and rice production. The World Bank considers that China will face, “… catastrophic consequences for future generations”.

America may be mighty but it cannot escape the power of nature. It will need all the super heroes it can muster to get itself out of this problem. The US is a massive food producing country be it: grain, rice, soybean etc. However, a report by Ceres reminds us all, “Producing food, after all, requires more water than almost any other business on Earth”. Whereas we may drink 4 litres of water a day, it takes 2000 litres to produce our food. www.theguardian.com

  1. www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/11/405946749/why-food-companies-should-be-more-afraid-of-water-scarcity

thJSHFW8FRCalifornia seems particularly parched at present. The recent drought conditions may force a rethink on water supply and usage. Southern California gets nearly all its water from the Colorado River. To the north it is around 20%. Betting odds on there being a shortage of river flow on the Colorado has increased from 33% to 50%, not good odds. At present Lake Mead is only 38% full. The region needs a mighty downpour which incidentally may be helped by El Nino.

www.m.utsandiego.com/news/2015/may/11/colorado

Meanwhile, the California Department of Resources is predicting a huge increase in population.

2009                       2020                       2030

28m                       41m                       75m

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/water_scarcity

There is a sting in the tail for all of us that we need to take seriously. “Water use is growing twice as fast as population”. (November 2014) www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/scarcity.shtml

All the warnings are out there; well signposted but have not yet captured the imagination. The general media have not deduced the seriousness of our plight. Governments keep the lid on it perhaps hoping it might go away or don’t want to upset business. Meanwhile, the press feed us celebrity gossip and we become ‘mindless consumers’. (Philosopher Jürgen Habermas).

We cannot halt the use of water; everything we do is directly linked to it. We need constant reminders that only 1% is drinkable and that many millions don’t have the luxury of clean water. The potential of water wars in the developing world is very real. The prospect of severe rationing in the developed nations is increasingly likely.

It is equally obvious that we have the technology and the wherewithal to find solutions. One of our greatest attributes as human beings is devising solutions to extremely difficult problems. We are inexhaustible in our ingenuity.

One solution comes from a surprising source, Unilever, one of the world’s giant’s in chemical production. In Iowa State, they are paying soybean farmers 10c a bushel to adopt sustainable water practices. We should all cheer Unilever so where they lead others will follow.

The second enterprising solution is the use of solar power to distil water by nearly boiling it. Bedouins’ in the town of Dahab use a system called AquaDania’s WaterStiller which has proven five (5) times more efficient than other methods. (Wikipedia.org. as above).

These are practical initiatives which highlight the ingenuity of people. Finding a political solution will prove much too difficult in a liberal landscape. Politics is a blinding force; it strips the brain of the means to think beyond its narrow confines. Power and greed come to the fore and side-line any ethical approach. Thus the libertarians will sit back, enjoy a drink, toss a few coins in a charity box and turn a blind eye to the death and sheer hell of people struggling to survive.

People in the West are so afraid of taking a decisive step for fear that they will be castigated as erstwhile colonialists. They don’t want to be seen in any sense of appearing to dictate policy. These liberals suffer from historical restitution. They favour self-determination without thought of consequence, they hide behind a motto of; let them run their own affairs, find their own way. Give them some money to ease the stress.

Meanwhile, dictators, dictate and fascists terrorize but then, it’s none of our business. However, the ordinary Joes’ of Africa, Asia and the Middle East are making it our business by leaving their homeland in droves to find a better life. Immigration then becomes a major political and social issue.

One way to overcome our ‘lazy eye’ is to have strict guidelines on the use of foreign aid and to monitor its implementation. If wells are vital to ensure clean water then we only give aid for that purpose, to provide and maintain. Corruption is siphoning off £/$ millions from the real need. We desperately need an array of methods to circumvent those who indulge themselves in the proceeds of corruption.

Furthermore, we must stop treating Africa as a car-boot-sale venue. Humanitarianism is not a business tool and should never be used as such.

Do some good…..join Robin Hood

 

 

People Trafficking:Slavery down your back Alley!

 

thCAXBWG7XWe talk at great length of being civilized, of having laws, of respecting each other, of human rights and the talk goes on. Words are carefully crafted, statements painstakingly drafted, teeth especially whitened and politicians suitably dressed pontificate at great length their desire for a better world. We have organisations: United Nations (UN), World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a host of charities all barracking us to support them to end poverty, prevent illness, aid victims of drought and famine and so on. Television adverts by the score, using emotional blackmail, implore us to show empathy with the plight of others. Yet I don’t see much obvious content on slavery, in fact not very much of anything.

There are many reasons for the lack of candour about people trafficking. Perhaps it is not a vote catcher or it may upset friends in high places or a country you hope to influence on other matters. Perhaps, it’s not a headline grabber, so few column inches appear in the press. I don’t know the number of column inches that same-sex marriage or the need to maintain and enhance foreign aid provoked in the UK but it was substantial. Politicians were motivated to push the issues through parliament, irrespective of the popular view. They dictated to the people.

Note that none of the issues mentioned are about every day being a nightmare for millions of people. Some may argue that ‘aid’ is about suffering. I would contend that ‘aid’ is more about winning friends and influencing leaders in emerging countries. The poor rarely see much of the donated aid.

Is slavery a – too hot to handle- topic? Are politicians afraid to bring to the fore an issue they know is difficult to solve? If the issue became current they may have to do thCA6S7RJLsomething about it and that may mean challenging leaders of nations where the evil practice is most prevalent. Not many Trade Deals to be had with leaders embarrassed into taking action on slavery. Money, it has a peculiar affect on some people.

The same is true of the press; they may have campaigns on sensitive issues but nothing that compares to the horror of slavery. It has been suggested that newspapers do not have the resources to fund the investigative journalism required over an extended period that would bring justice to a flagrantly unjust situation. Is it not possible on such an issue that a joint fund could be arranged, with a shared authorship of the material generated? What of funding: from charities, foreign aid, trade unions, (workers of the world unite) a media mogul, the lottery fund or even public subscriptions.

Raise awareness by having a small weekly column looking at websites that deal with slavery. If nothing else it will encourage more people to become aware. It builds momentum.

thCAXR63SGLet precedence go to hell, break with the norm, enquire of Houdini how to get out of the straightjacket! Are there no Wilberforce’s anymore? Investigative journalism could prove the key to further action and it is vital that collected data comes from an independent source. Unfortunately, Wilberforce has been dead for a long time, nowadays we have ‘the art of the possible’ politician, with the built-in excuse, ‘it wasn’t possible,’ who always use words like: but, if, maybe. We live in the time of the wishy-washy, lame-duck Liberal and these guys like to talk. Lots!

Memo: “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. Nelson Mandela

Meanwhile:

“There are more human slaves in the world today than ever before.” www.randomhistory.com

It is difficult to verify the claim above because the collation of data is bedevilled by problems:

“Because of its hidden nature, it is difficult to get accurate statistics on the numbers affected”. www.antislavery.org

The UN reckons that around 2.5 million people are trafficked each year, half of them are children. The international Labour Organisation (ILO) 2010 estimates that around the globe there are 21m ‘forced labourers, of these 4.5m are also sexually exploited’. It is a difficult number to get your head around as it constitutes more people than some countries have as a population. Twenty-one million people and their screams are overshadowed by the ‘art of the possible’.

There are a plethora of laws. The UN, the main body that collates information is to the forefront of issuing directives. In 1990, the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families was adopted. It suggested the promotion of regular and managed migration as a means of defeating people trafficking. To me ‘managed migration’ would entail the granting of rights and a proper wage for the workers. However, the guys who employ the migrants just want cheap labour that they can: use, abuse and sack on a whim; a law will not prevent that situation.

Furthermore, The Convention against Transnational Organised Crime was adopted by the UN in November 2000 but did not come into force until September 2003. Why did it take 3 years for an agreement to become official?

To add to their list the UN adopted 3 Protocols:

  • Against trafficking in people-December 2003 (117 signatories of 193 members –March 2013)
  • Smuggling of migrants – January 2004
  • Against the manufacture and trafficking of firearms – July 2005

I am staggered that it took so long for the UN and the representatives of all nations to do such a little thing about people trafficking. Perhaps the rationale lies in the fact that it is now a major criminal activity and not so much about people suffering.

Q. What do they propose to do now they have the directives in place?

Nothing! Decisions are taken at individual nation level therefore the UN has no power to force countries to adhere to the ‘Protocols’. It is a political sham to make people think they are actually doing something. Why?

“This, unfortunately, is one of the most flourishing and profitable criminal industries of the world”. www.buzzle.com

According to the respected, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) trafficking is in the top three (3) for money making alongside drugs and firearms. Law enforcement does not have a good record in combatting the latter two, what hope for people trafficking? The ILO estimates that it generates around $32 billion annually. A massive block to remedying the situation is that it is known in several countries that some policemen and judges are complicit in this heinous crime. buzzle.com

Q. What’s the betting that a politician or two have their greedy little fingers deep in the proverbial pie?

 

“Trafficking in human beings is a multi-billion-dollar form of international organised crime, constituting modern day slavery”.  www.Interpol.int/Crime-areas/

The reason why the crime is thriving according to Interpol is not only the huge profits but “…benefitting from weak legislation and the relatively low risk of detection, prosecution and arrest compared to other activities of transnational organised crime”. Even the UN admits a waning of endeavour in detection and prosecution across Europe.

India is infamous for its use of ‘bonded labour’ which is the: “…most widely used method of enslaving people”. Wikipedia (see India: An Indictment) Pakistan and the whole of Asia seem passive towards it. Don’t assume a change in the law would help; the laws are systematically ignored. Much like the UN itself as all of the nations are members of the UN. Saudi Arabia has an estimated 9 million migrant workers many of whom are badly treated. The USA has recently, June 2013, criticized both Russia and China as failing to combat forced labour and sex trafficking. These are members of the G8 the most powerful nations in the world.

People trafficking appears endemic in Asia but the horror is spread to some extent throughout the world. Of the 2.5 m trafficked each year the UN breaks it down thus:

  • 1.4m – Asia & Pacific = 56%
  • 250,000 – Latin America & Caribbean = 10%
  • 230,000 – Middle East & North Africa = 9.2%
  • 130,000 – sub-Sahara Africa = 5.2%
  • 270,000 – industrialised countries = 10.8%

The UN contends, that it “…affects every continent and every type of economy”. www.unglobalcompact.org

Will anything change? Not without you and your voice. Peoples’ interest varies as much as plants in the rainforest. Certain issues become ‘must do’, for example the politicians seem possessed by same-sex marriage and homosexual belief generally. In the UK, Prime Minister, David Cameron championed the cause of same-sex marriage and foreign aid. Same-sex marriage has been promoted on a world scale; it has generated substantial column inches in the press and wide coverage on television. How many will it affect? In the UK, anywhere up to a hundred individuals, worldwide, one/two thousand. Slavery an estimated 27 million souls with no say, no choice, no hope.

The furore over Russia and its stated position on homosexuality nearly went thermonuclear. The apoplexy of the PC brigade broke the sound barrier. Twitter went twits-up, famous homosexuals demanded retribution. Calls to ban the Winter Olympics and ban Russians, just ban, ban, ban! Their hypocrisy is matched only by their dictatorial traits. Where are these paragons of human rights of political correctness? Those who consider themselves the embodiment of a civilized society; you should wear a badge of shame!

Let me make it abundantly clear that I am not opposed to homosexuals but given the choice of freeing slaves or same-sex marriage to me is a no-brainer. I wish their passion was directed to save the millions and not unnecessary choice to a few.

Will anything change? Bob Dylan: Long Ago, Far Away – first 2 verses.

To preach of peace and brotherhood,

Oh, what might be the cost!

A man he did it long ago

And they hung him on a cross.

Long ago, far away;

These things don’t happen

No more, nowadays.

The chains of slaves

They dragged the ground

With heads and hearts hung low.

But it was during Lincoln’s time

And it was long ago.

Long ago, far away;

Things like that don’t happen

No more, nowadays.

thCA5VNJ7W“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know”. William Wilberforce. Read a short bio:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/wilberforce_william.shtml

Will anything change?

“Unfortunately, despite its prevalence and the innate seriousness of the crime, trafficking is currently not viewed as a priority by government or law enforcement agencies”.  He goes on to tell us that we have the ability and capability to tackle human trafficking. Peter Ship: www.guardian.com

“Longitudinal research following villages from slavery to freedom has shown significant freedom dividend”. Nick Grono.  www.walkfree.org/modern-slavery/learn/#  . Short video have a look.

Will anything change?

A liberal is as a communist is as a fascist. Adherence to a political outlook is as a panoramic vista to a blind person. Their dictum is; agenda, agenda, agenda. Progress is slow in such a small world.

Will anything change?

“As of January 2012 over 27 million people are believed to be working as personal and sex slaves all over the world”. buzzle.com People trafficking is going to need a lot of opposition to end its savagery.

 

 

 

Haiti: Where irony never sleeps.

slum dwelling Haiti

 

no place like homeHome

Damage from earthquake in Haiti

Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. J.K.Rowling, (speech 2008)

One of the most depressing stories in the aid saga is that of Haiti. Ten million nightmares wake up from the darkness of dreams to meet a new horror each day. Unless you were born into it, you could not hope to cope with the ravages of life in this small Caribbean country.

Before 1990, Haiti had been under the murderous control of the Duvalier family for 30 years. When that regime was toppled a military dictatorship replaced it. The people have had little respite from corruption, hunger and death and, then came the hurricane.

The devastation left behind by the quake of 2010 was 300,000 dead and 1million homeless. A big country would have felt the pain and the anguish but would have found the resolve to re-construct. Haiti, a small nation of approximately 10m, wrapped in a prolonged history of poverty and dependency must find it difficult to stand up, much less to rebuild.

The unrelenting pounding of hardships leaves little hope of rescue and of waking to a brght tomorrow.

  • An estimated $8 bn of damage.
  • 80% live below the poverty line.
  • 54% in abject poverty.
  • 40% depend on subsistence farming.
  • Between 2009/10 all of Haiti’s debts were written off.
  • By 2012 Haiti has amassed a new debt of $600m.
  • Much of the forestry has been cut down.                           

It’s a catalogue of horrors.

The true nightmare for Haiti is the lack of hope for the future. In 2011, Haiti, exported $690m of goods – in the same period imports were an estimated $3,280m. Of course that differential of income is not sustainable, especially when you consider that, ‘The government relies on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability.’ (CIA) In essence without foreign help Haiti cannot climb out of the mire. After the earthquake the international community pledged over $4.5bn for reconstruction but it hasn’t all arrived!!!

Is securing boatloads of aid the answer to Haiti’s problem? In short the answer is an emphatic NO! The problems go much deeper, the whole nation is sorely fractured. The country appears to be a cesspit of corruption and has a myriad of political parties all jostling for any tangible degree of power. In this environment gangs are a means of survival and the more ruthless the higher the pay off. The UN has recently described the human rights situation as: ‘catastrophic.’

There’s an old saying, ‘it never rains but it pours’ and so it is with Haiti. The people were still trying to pick themselves up, when the cavalry arrived in the form of the UN and disaster rode with them. Cholera, has claimed in excess of 7,500 lives and with 600,000 ill and counting. The Guardian newspaper reports that, ‘it is beyond reasonable doubt’ that the UN caused it. Haiti, it seems needs a new water/sanitation system costing -up to $1bn. The cost of keeping the UN troops is estimated at $1bn. (Guardian) Remove one and fit the other seems like a no-brainer to me. The UN is pulling out some troops. What will they do with the money saved?

In August 2012 came the howling wail of Issac in the North destroying some 40% of the crop and many cholera treatment centres. When you consider that 80% of the people depend on agriculture for their living this was indeed a disaster. With little infrastructure, roads like mud lanes, and no irrigation programme a disaster soon becomes a nightmare. Oxfam reports, ‘no coordinated strategy to avert widespread crisis and neglect.’

And just to compound things, Sandy showed up and blasted the South/west of the country causing severe flooding in places. Plantations of numerous crops ruined and over 50% of the people affected.

It’s the daily grind that beats you down, living in tent towns, being forced to move around when the law demands. Crime out of control, with rape a daily occurrence and violence forever there. Murder pours scorn on their already deep trauma. The cost of funerals far exceed what the poor can pay and, loan sharks on the desperate prey.

What can be done?

Mario Joseph, a human rights lawyer makes two telling points:

‘part of the problem is these NGO’s.’

‘…there’s been an improper distribution of the aid that people have sent to Haiti.’

We have to give some credence to the man on the ground who has taken up many cases.

 

Typical politician

The situation may seem insuperable as the country is imitative of a pre-industrial society which is in need of being dragged into the 21st century. Achieving political consensus will be a bigger mountain to climb than Everest. Moi, is the first word a baby politician speaks. Yet change is as essential as the sun in Haiti. Tears from the Liberal hearts will dampen a wet rag as they wipe from their hands any positive solution that may hurt a fly.

Each donor nation must accept responsibility for the aid/ loans it passes over. This will entail that country administering a given area of development. Example; USA, takes on the role of re-afforestation, brings in experts from its own forests and works with and trains locals. After a period of 20 years it can pack up! Any other charities NGO’s can feed into the deal but must accept USA as administrator. Groups of donors can band together but must have a national policy and one admin nation. E.g. France agriculture, Germany education etc. Using this strategy would make monitoring and evaluating the spend and efficiency sound. It should also limit corruption and waste.

It may take some ruthless entrepreneurial leadership to force change, but this would be at loggerheads with the ‘guilt clause’ of the Liberal elite. They will probably prefer to toss dosh at the problem and keep their distance. However, if it is not sustainable you fail the people. You end up just kicking them in the teeth! Titbits!!

An obvious candidate for change is farming; the setting up of co-operatves to maximise crop yield and bring modern methods would help. Or enclosure may be necessary to force change. It cannot continue at subsistance level.

Re-afforestation is a must. Properly administered on a long term basis.

Housing: a serious development plan that covers the country as a whole. Not a patch work of charities doing their own thing.  No temporary shacks that a huff & a puff will blow down. One donor nation in charge!

Mineral wealth: allow established companies to operate and run the mineral deposits on a non profit basis for 20 years. Then sell to the highest bidder.

Corruption: this must be tackled by the setting up of a new police force. With careful use of gathered intel- deal ruthlessly with organised crime.

I may be blowing in the wind but, but, but, peeing in a lake never caught a fish.

Aid: Made of Sand?

 

Where does all the money go?

Is the money well spent?

Why are we spending so much?

The UK is to increase the amount of foreign aid by a whacking 35% over the next few years. That will bring the total spend by 2015 to £12 billion, and change.

It’s a rich man’s……

The Government are keen to point out that it supports many laudable programmes via aid:

  • Supporting freer and fairer elections in 5 countries. (Where?)
  • Vaccinates some 12 million kids. (Great)
  • Supports 5.3 million children going to primary school. (Smashing)

And much more beside; but where is the evidence?

There are numerous stories about schools being built but have no equipment. Of others being supplied with computers but have no electricity. Hospitals constructed but without sufficient staff or medicine to cope with demand.

Rwanda

In support of fairer elections the government might point to Rwanda, where since the genocide of 1994 millions of dollars have been poured in. A previous Labour government under Tony Blair, was quick to praise Rwanda and its leader Paul Kagame, for the excellent work carried out. However, in the recent period the UK has withheld £16 million in aid because of a suspicion that the Rwandan government was/is supplying arms and supporting rebels in the Congo.

But, but, but,

Andrew Mitchell, the Conservative minister for International Aid has unfrozen the money and the first tranche of £8 million was released in early October 2012, with the second lot due to in December. The PM, David Cameron, has characterized Rwanda as a ‘success story’. However, Amnesty International says that the Human Rights record in Rwanda is appalling. While the UN, has accused Rwanda of giving aid and weapons to the rebels in the Congo. The leader of the rebel force, Bosco Ntaganda, and his M23 army are suspected of war crimes.

Land locked Rwanda

Why has the aid been re- established? Has Mr Kagame and his government agreed to do what they are told in the future. Were they perhaps looking towards China for help? Was it a case of better the devil you know?

What do Blair, and Cameron, know about Rwanda and its leader Paul Kagame, that no one else seems to know?

It has also emerged that the UK already gives £37 million from the general budget, – not the aid budget. Why is Rwanda so deserving?

There is considerable dispute as to the leadership of Paul Kagame, with several people calling for him to be tried for war crimes and various atrocities and suppression of opposition within Rwanda. Notwithstanding, the UK, the USA, and several Non Governmental Organisations, (NGO) continue to grant substantial amounts of aid to the country.

As aid makes up an estimated 33% of Rwandan government income, it does not take much imagination to see a link between aid and the supply of weapons to the rebel force in the Congo. How long was the suspicion held regarding Rwanda before the aid donors halted the flow of cash? It would seem that aid money was being used and therefore the international aid community were party to criminal activity. Well done guys.

 

Typical farm worker

Meanwhile, 90% of the population were busy surviving at subsistence level in the country’s agricultural sector. Over 45% of the population live below the poverty line. The main exports are coffee & tea; though the country has to import food. Is it just me or is there something wrong here?

Do the guys who dish out the dosh really know where the money is going and how it is being used? I would have thought that they were bright enough to have ‘intel’ on the ground. Hmm, I might be wrong on both counts.