Africa at any one time plays host to 40,000 expatriate experts, each costing at a conservative estimate about $100,000 a year. Is their combined advice worth four billion dollars a year?
Some Africans think not. Kenyan journalist Hilary Ng’weno says that ‘Back home in their own countries they would probably not be allowed to tinker with the working of a small-scale firm, let alone an entire nation’.
Most field staff will admit that many development projects (maybe most of them) are poorly conceived and have little, if any, useful long-term impact. Perhaps it is time we said so. Too often we have allowed the need to nurture public sympathy for development assistance to excuse not just a lack of frankness but downright dishonesty about the effectiveness of aid.
Jon Tinker, Earthscan, in Development Forum 1985 No.4
Two Boston scientists have correlated data on around 7,000 young people aged from 12 to 17 which showed that the chances of their being obese, or super-obese, increased two percent for each additional hour of television viewed. This would be partly explained by the children spending hours in front of the TV which they could have devoted to more strenuous activity. But they are also subjected to many advertisements for snack foods, none of which mention their generally high calorific content. The authors of the study conclude that reducing TV viewing could reduce, or in some cases, prevent obesity.
IOCU Consumer Currents, September 1985
More than half a million children become blind each year for lack of vitamin A - and two thirds of them die within weeks of becoming blind.
The vitamin is present as retinol in animal products, such as liver, milk, butter and eggs. It can also be found as carotene in vegetables like carrots, cassava and spinach and in fruits such as mangoes and papayas.
Young children are at greatest risk of developing many eye problems because their vitamin A requirements are relatively greater than those of adults and because they suffer most from infections. Vitamin A deficiency is the single greatest cause of blindness among pre-school children in developing countries and the younger the child the greater is the risk that this will be followed by death.
In Point of Fact, World Health Organization
War of waves
The CIA estimates that that the Soviet budget for international propaganda is more than three billion dollars a year, roughly four times what the US spends. Radio Moscow consumes most of the budget, broadcasting an astonishing 2,167 hours a week in 81 languages to 100 countries. But the high share of international spending doesn’t necessarily produce a similar share of the audience. In pro-Soviet North Yemen, for example, 47 per cent of listeners tune in to the BBC, 26 per cent to the Voice of America and only 14 per cent to Radio Moscow.
Time magazine, Sept 9 1985
The Reagan Administration’s attack on abortion is taking its toll on international agencies which promote family planning. Hardest hit is the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) which lost 25 per cent of its budget this year because of its refusal to conform to US requirements on restricting abortion programmes.
Among the organizations also potentially in the firing line is the United Nations Fund for Population Activities. The US has already announced plans to withhold ten million dollars from money that would otherwise go to family planning in China after newspaper reports of coercive abortion there.
According to Everold Hosein of IPPF ‘The withdrawal of money for China is a pain in the neck for UNFPA but the programme will go on. It is a large programme with the full support of the Chinese government. UNFPA will make up the loss from other sources’.
Some people are now suggesting that all US Funds to the UN body could be cut - or that UNFPA might itself forego US funding because too many political strings had become attached.
Joseph Scheidel of the Population Crisis Committee in Washington DC, sees US opposition as ‘coming from the Right-to-Life anti-abortion people. Many of these groups are increasingly admitting that they are also anti-family planning’.
Development Forum, 1985 No. 7
Getting the point
Immunizations against six childhood diseases are now saving the lives of an estimated 800,000 infants yearly in the developing world, according to the World Health Organization.
The ‘Expanded Programme on Immunization’ was launched in 1974 against polio, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus, as well as measles and tuberculosis, the major killers of infants. The coverage of infants with the major vaccines was less than five per cent at the start of the programme and is now up to 40 per cent. ‘Simply by reinforcing existing health services,’ says a WHO report, ‘there is every reason to expect a coverage level of 60 to 70 per cent by 1990’.
Despite these successes an estimated 265,000 cases of polio, two million deaths from measles and 600,000 deaths from whooping cough alone still occur every year in the developing world.
For all the encouragement that developing countries have had to follow the Western pattern of development they shouldn’t follow it too quickly. At the end of July, for example, Britain concluded negotiations with Bangladesh on the clothing imports that would be allowed. Bangladesh wanted to send 5.25 million shirts, Britain wanted to accept 1.5 million. In the end they settled on a figure of 2.2 million, It is rather better than France, however, to whom the Bangladeshis can only send 1.8 million.
The quota for Bangladesh shirts in Britain is equivalent to
four per cent of current imports of low-cost shirts to the country. And it is still only one tenth of Hong Kong’s share, one fifth of India’s and a half of South Korea’s - countries which are better able to absorb the impact of quotas because they export a whole range of clothes to Britain, while Bangladesh is entirely dependent on shirts.
Girls at risk
Monitoring infant mortality rates is a tricky business - particularly in places where deaths are not necessarily reported. In India there is wide discrimination against girl babies but this has not appeared so dramatically in the statistics. In the Punjab, for example, the official statistics show the male infant mortality rate to be 97 per thousand live births while that for females is 111.
The Ludhiana Medical College in the Punjab, however, has had a careful monitoring programme for 85,000 families in its own area. It discovered that female deaths constituted 85 per cent of the total in 1983 for children from seven to 36 months.
On this basis the male and female infant mortality rates are 31 and 177 respectively. Although this may sound extreme, the very low infant mortality rate for boys does make sense when one considers the great investments that are made in sons in the Punjab. And this is a relatively rich area where there is money in many families to look after the children if they are considered a priority.
Manushi, 1985 No. 29
'He has scattered the proud in the Imagination of their
'Man ought to possess external things, not as his