Re: US Food Aid Stupidity
In regard to food issues in Ethiopia and the Sudan in the '80's the problem was exacerbated by a push towards industrial farming by donor nations.
Canada, for example, donated huge tractors, combines and other machinery to Sudan in the late '70's and early '80's in order to improve Sudans grain production and cotton crop and thereby, foreign earnings, which would be used to pay off loans they'd taken out to finance other 'improvement' schemes.
A move to large scale farming necessitated the removal of small farmers from their land - much like in Britain with enclosure, these farmers moved to towns where they couldn't find work and ate the seeds they'd have used for planting, or moved to less fertile land where their hardscrabble existence became more so.
Along comes a perfect storm of a cotton price crash, farmers with no land, no jobs, no seeds, and a drought. Along comes Bob Geldoff.
To add insult to injury, Canada built a huge bakery in Khartoum which would produce thousands of loaves of bread a day. 'We must supply a market for the grain our new farming methods are producing'. Of course this puts hundreds of small home based bakers out of business. A little while later the bakery starts breaking down, but by now CIDA's moved on to some other project, and there isn't the infrastructure to repair, and there isn't the foreign earnings to repair (cotton price drop), so it sits empty. The home bakers have all eaten all they had to keep from starving.
So, in a space of 5 or 6 years, Canada (amongst other donors) managed to put Sudan in a place that it was impossible for it to fend for itself during a drought. It never recovered.
In 2007 we were in Botswana and saw a 'show home' built by CIDA (Canada International Development Agency) - it was being sold as a sustainable house. Prominently displayed were DOW rigid styrofoam panels, dual pane windows, and other bric-a-brac all "Made in Canada" (the air conditioner was made in China, I assume). The coolest unairconditioned houses (as in 'not hot' houses) I've been in were mud walled with thatch roofing, really sustainable, really cheap, just not 'modern' enough.
It hasn't changed all that much.
"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken." (stolen from TomF )