[DEBATE] : Re: Forcing Africans to 'adapt' to poverty
muna at iafrica.com
Mon Feb 12 09:19:37 GMT 2007
Hi all - David Hallowes pretty much said it all, between him and "straw man" but
one point I would like to make re: the following:
"His core argument is that greens are apologists for
underdevelopment because they don't support modernisation, starting with
industrial agriculture. (Earlier postings on Spiked have put it more
bluntly, that greens want to keep Africa poor). If millions more
Africans are to be forced off the land and also lifted out of poverty (as
development speak has it) then there must be decent urban housing and jobs."
"modernisation" is a word much like "progress" - are these automatically
manifesting in a positive way for people?
I think there are some fundamental disconnects in that belief..
1) which "greens"? the conservationists whose main concern is nature, or
environmentalists, whos emain concern is environmental and social justice?
2) why should "development" = jobs? poverty is not about access to money, but
access to resources - fact of the matter is, people with land and the beneficial
'technologies' of the modern world, are able to deliver a far superior quality of life
than most urban conurbations - why does one need necessarily to be in an urban
cash economy if one has clean air, safe water and food, good nutrition, safe and
abundant energy, comfortable housing, sound and non-toxic healthcare,
maeningful education, and the like?
3) the development model is the flaw - the current economic imperialism
assumes that the US model is the default, and is not to be challenged or
questioned - why should we not rather ensure access to resources, through
access to land, etc. and support a genuinely sustainable development model that
is not predicated on imported fossil fuels, a host of toxic chemicals, or what tends
to be mostly 'slave' labour?
4) such an alternative model would be a sound basis for people, who would be
able to deliver a surplus to those with cash, and use that to "enjoy" what modern
things they wish
The vast majority of poor people I work with truly embrace the Zero Waste
multiculture model we have developed, which satisfies much of the above - sure,
it is hardly complete, but it is a far sight more secure that pretty much any job in
today's labour over supply market.... with benefits that the average poor person
will never be able to afford with the pitiful sums they are able to earn in the formal
urban economy .....
it is true that many cannot see that autonomous technologies, like biodigesters
(provision of safe and dignified sanitation, with nutrient rich water, methane
energy and compost - while not sexy to engineers because they do not need
huge resources to build and pretty much zero maintenance), as solutions
because they are not "modern", but that is a simple colonisation of the mind
about what is good.... the 15 million digesters in China, and the recent ramping
up of same to an additional one million units per annum, gives the lie to those
who believe we need economies of scale to "deliver" - clever design, and
economies of scope work very well indeed!!
so bottom line - if the Greens referred to are the corporate NGO's in the North,
then by all means claim they have a romanticised notion of poverty and rural life -
but for African Greens, driven by the needs of the poorest of the poor, that
definition needs a radical re-think...
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