US Food Aid as a money-maker for the corporate few?
peter.reardon from a personal perspective working with CARE-US : World , culture, Opinion:-
CARE-USA's quantum shift in management philosophy with regard to "feeding the poor" in need of humanitarian aid is hopefully only a short term improvement of supplying emergency food until seeds and local farming tools can be acquired to enable food to be grown by local population in their own neighbourhood. Respecting local traditions adds to the dignity of life but people are manipulated by genetic food being used as a healthy food instead of an American agri-business scam on the basis of exploiting the poor and making money for the company investors.
Self-help projects enable communities to be rebuilt with the participation of local people at all levels of society: government; community; and village. There is nothing wrong with genuine help to assist in local projects especially if it is food to feed one village at a time, such an outcome would be progress.
Critics of US food aid subsidies say they help cause obesity among Americans and starvation among Africans. Now Care, one of the world's biggest charities, has announced that it will boycott the controversial policy of selling tons of heavily subsidized US produced food in African countries. Care wants the US government to send money to buy food locally, rather than unwanted US produced food.(CommonDreams)
I read about the decision by Care-USA to purchase food in neighbouring countries for targeted relief projects thereby saving wasted shipping charges for foods to be purchased in America and shipped on American carriers to the nearest port to the actual need of the victims of social unrest, but still not delivered to the intended destination: that might take a combination of train links and truck convoys which mean the food aid shipment sent from America would be substantially depleted. This is termed the "shrinkage rate" aka the "theft factor" by the time food reaches the local warehouses from which it could be distributed to the intended client.
The US arm of the charity (CARE) says America is causing rather than reducing hunger with a decree that US food aid must be sold rather than directly distributed to those facing starvation. In America, the subsidies for corn in particular, help underpin the junk food industry, which uses corn extracts as a sweetener, creating a home-grown health crisis.(CommonDreams)
Aid has been conditional in the poorest countries for many years. But foreign lands continue to be exploited and manipulated to this day by unscrupulous
administrators offering aid support to selected countries; usually nations with mineral deposits, coal, diamonds, or oil.
Or land. Which is the 'right' (so people in the west would believe) of the people born to that country. For example, when it is in the best interest of the Chinese government officials have negotiated land deals in many African countries and India where factories and industrial plants are built, or are currently under construction; even military bases and airstrips in the mountains of Nepal within striking distance of India.
However, as the Chinese government does not hire local African people, or Nepalese as labourers, Chinese labour is used and local people do not benefit from profits made on their land.
Many desperately poor regions of poor countries do not receive any aid support at all because they are deemed, for example, to be without exploitable resources.
The American government has a special arrangement with the Chinese government that involves millions, if not billions, of dollars from the US treasury which means that the Americans have to "sing whatever song the Chinese government might request". Effectively the American people are at the mercy of the Chinese and the American government is powerless to oppose the demands of the Chinese, that is, if they want to see their money again.
More and more national leaders are buying into the the corrupt practice of selling the property of the people, land and natural resources, for personal gain: and the losers? Once again, the majority of the population, the poor, the landless.
The good news that CARE shares with us is that they will have a much greater opportunity to assist in the economic development of a poor country.
The end result of non-negotiable conditions for emergency food aid, or long term development funding, varies from donor governments or charitable agencies who covet access to African or Asian natural resources on the heels of supplying "charity" food.
Globally, about 800 million are chronically hungry and the number is rising every year. US farmers love the present system, but it is slow and unresponsive when there are food emergencies. (CommonDreams)
When strangers move into foreign lands "charity" is mostly conditional, and any grass-roots freedoms, or local control are manipulated, compromised, and inevitably lost; by a political strategy once known by the name of "a puppet regime". That is, a local leader representing the victimized poor, or foreign corporation, the aid agency is not always in a position to determine who will benefit from the distribution of the food.
The US claims to be the world's most generous provider of food aid, giving $2bn annually. Much of that aid lost in the overheads of shipping it to Africa.(CommonDreams)
In the quotation above 'aid lost in the overheads of shipping' is a polite reference to the money, or goods, or services is has cost the shipper to line the the pockets of corrupt government officials at the port to get ships unloaded, or in customs offices to get 'bills of lading' approved to remove a consignment from the vessel, and the food to be transported by river boat, train, trucks or carried on the heads of the poorest paid manual labourers.
There is good news though. With CARE-USA thinking about the cost of being compelled to spend its aid budget in the US and perhaps shopping around for a fair price from a supplier closer to the country to which the urgently needed food is to be delivered other world agencies might pick-up on Care's initiative. The reality is that money for aid programmes is in great demand and there are increasing more regions where the numbers of poor are in need. <END>