Sunday, July 31, 2005

"Can't win for losing..."

The crisis in Niger is suddenly all over the press. An interesting analysis of how this situation was allowed to get so bad is in today's New York Times: A New Face of Hunger, Without the Old Excuses. "For decades famine was seen largely as a consequence of bad political leadership. ... Far from ignoring or playing down its troubles, Niger's government, in cooperation with international aid agencies, sounded the alarm back in November. It provided subsidized grain and other aid from its own stocks, and has apparently made every effort to avert disaster. The world simply failed to respond, leaving the government unable to mount a sufficient aid campaign." In effect, Niger's government did what it should have with its limited means but still the country is facing a serious problem.

Meanwhile, south of the border, BBC reports that Birds devastate crops in Nigeria. "Farmers in northern Nigeria beat drums to stop a plague of hungry quela quela birds eating their crops. ..." Different situation and context but a similar story - the farmers work hard and then what? Stay tuned.

At some later point I'd like to explore how ICT, localized in African languages, might be an "appropriate technology" for agricultural development in these areas.

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