Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Attending events

The political year has restarted, which means that there are all sorts of events to attend. Today I listened to Dr David Nabarro CBE, UN Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition at the Henry Jackson Society. Yes, indeed, he spoke well about Global Food Security: Recent Developments and Challenges with a good power point back-up. In other words, the slides of the power point had real information that enlarged on what he said, maps, charts and some figures.

In the end I carried away some not vary happy impressions. It seems that in the last thirty years there has been a drop in investment in agriculture in many parts of the world and a rise in poverty and number of people who went hungry (though numbers and definitions are hard to come by). What he did not say is that in the same thirty years there has been a stupendous rise in NGOs, UN committees, criss-crossing of continents by people who attend conferences and all sorts of pledges of greater international aid. At the very least, one could say that this development has not been helpful yet Dr Nabarro's responses to various questions included references to further committees, meetings of transnational organizations and the international community.

To be fair, he seemed to be in favour of trade and investment, against export controls in Sub-Saharan African countries and import controls as well as dumping of subsidized produce on those countries by the EU and the United States.

He also had no real answer to the question I posed about the political reality of the worst region for poverty and famine, that is Sub-Saharan Africa. It is all very well for some people to ask about predictions about what kind of instability and violence might develop from climate change but the fact it is that those countries are already unstable and violent as well as corrupt. There are no legal structures and no rules of property ownership, which prevents investment and development. The governments live off foreign aid and are ready to be bribed by anyone, such as the Chinese government who have been known to use those countries as a place where unemployed Chinese workers can be utilized and where good land can be acquired for the production of food for China. Until those political and legal problems are solved the future of Sub-Saharan Africa remains bleak. An end to international aid would be a good beginning.

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