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[afro-nets] Eliminating world poverty: making governance work for the poor (23)

Eliminating world poverty: making governance work for the poor (23)
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George,

I apologize for not replying to your email in which you asked for further 
elaboration about what "we" meant. I meant I think in the sense of we as 
humanity.

Indeed the fact that the world does not care enough to address these issues 
really expresses the degree of human degradation and this is linked to 
humanity's ancient shame and fear based modes of existence.  From shame and 
fear and seeing the world as what it is NOT rather than what it IS or the 
POTENTIAL that exists, we create a feast/famine duality upon which one side has 
so much that they make themselves sick both mentally and physically, while the 
other side suffers from a lack of even the most basic resources.

What is missing from this equation is the realization that it is simply not in 
humanity's interests to maintain such a dysfunctional pattern of existence and 
the extremes we now see in the use of resources are not historical norms. In 
the past, I believe the distance between rich and poor was much less because of 
the practical limits to what technology could do. With the loss of those 
natural limits to growth and technology development, we see gross distortions 
between the haves and have-nots globally. This trend if unchecked will threaten 
the stability of not only globalization but the whole process of modernization 
itself as it will lead not only to rising resentment but increasing impulses to 
strike back at the powerful by any means necessary - terrorism.

Now in terms of your comments regarding the market system I agree but I want to 
add what I see as was and is still missing in the traditional left-right 
dialectic. First the left needs to accept the understanding that liberalization 
is necessary but the problem is how to liberalize. It is the difference between 
a development program based on rhetoric and results driven actions involves 
transparency and such action oriented development in my view involves the 
empowerment of local economic actors at the grassroots.

In Africa there are many famous stories of national leaders who started out 
driven by noble and idealistic visions and descended into corruption and 
dictatorship and civil war. In Tanzania my understanding was that collectivist 
approach inspired by Marx was a failure. Yet this does not mean that we should 
or do not need to be more collective in our approach. However, such strategies 
would in my view best designed as hybrid, market driven social enterprises. 
This includes in my view a community based development strategy that focuses on 
building a open society and encourages local innovation in moving away from top 
down development models that disregard the needs of local people while propping 
up the political legitimacy of Western as well as local elites.

Also key is the rise of clever appropriate technologies and approaches that 
bring people together in a multisectorial approach to development. For example, 
considering a lack of adequate food supply as a key health issue in Africa, we 
might consider the development of new Integrated Farming/sustainable 
agriculture systems that: requires little land; is highly productive; requires 
minimal inputs (mechanization, fertilizer and pesticides); and regenerates the 
soil. Today the small farmer dominated agricultural system in Africa is 
dependent on western agricultural development model that benefits the western 
agribusiness industries more than the people in Africa and this is the root of 
Africa's ills. And it is not just the corporations selling this corrupt system 
but it is western governments, academia and even most of the mainline NGO 
community. And I think the reasons for this are obvious - everyone (the 
established players) gets a piece of the development action.

Because most African societies are still agricultural and rural based, we need 
to look at this issue deeply. Any health care solution in Africa is not 
sustainable, if there is no sustainable economy for the grassroots. And most 
importantly we need to provide systems for providing healthy food for local 
people that does not degrade the environment to complement any serious approach 
to the many health issues discussed here. My suggestion is that the West needs 
to re-evaluate its role in creating the structural deficiencies in Africa and 
other developing regions and to see the key role its big business sectors play 
in this. If the West is going to claim to help Africa with its situation, we 
need to be serious about it and not actually do more harm than good, 
perpetuating our dysfunctional role in exacerbating Africa's problem that began 
with colonialism.

For example something is wrong with a system that exports coffee, fruits and 
other tropical products desired by temperate affluent regions of the world, 
while the people in these regions working the fields and playing other 
supportive roles in sustaining this infrastructure do not themselves have 
enough food to eat. We are all complicit in this dysfunctional system and we 
need to take responsibility for our complicity by doing more to support an 
alternative development model that promotes sustainable agricultural solutions 
that focus on local needs first.

The prices of desirable commodities produced in emerging markets would be based 
on a global tax as part of the WTO regime to ensure the cost of shipping these 
products to western markets:
1. Credible scientific evidence that fossil fuels contribute to global warming
2. Impact of primarily western owned plantations in terms of degrading the soil
3. Removal of biomass from tropical regions that ends up perversely in 
landfills in affluent nations and finally the reality.
4. Exploitation of the workers
5. Consideration of the fact that precious lands are being used to export foods 
in regions of the world where large sections of the local populations do not 
have their caloric and nutritional needs met.

The proceeds of this tax would go towards the funding of a comprehensive 
sustainable development plan that would ensure that local farmers promoting 
more sustainable agricultural practices could sustain themselves and that their 
production if necessary would in effect be subsidized so that more local people 
could afford to buy their products. This would have the effect of inducing more 
balanced agricultural development strategies so that the need to create foreign 
exchange through the export of commodities was balanced with the immediate 
needs of local people to adequately provide food, shelter, clothing, health 
care clean drinking water and proper sanitation to themselves and their 
families.

Jeff Buderer
oneVillage Foundation
mailto:jeff@onevillage.biz

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