issue 203 - January 1990
Australia's decision to unfreeze its aid to Myanmar (Burma) - breaking ranks with other donors still boycotting the regime was so strongly criticized by the opposition within the country that Canberra changed its mind. Australian technical advisers will now be withdrawn from a dairy project in Mandalay. The dairy will be handed over to the Myanmar Government, which in turn will sell it to private interests. The most probable buyer is understood to be that well-known Swiss food company, Nestlé.
From Far Eastern Economic Review. Vol. 146 No. 43 1989
Now for the good news. Following a campaign by Survival International and other environmental organizations, the Scott Paper Company (makers of Andrex and Scottie tissues) has pulled out of a project in the tropical forests of western New Guinea, Indonesia. The project would have destroyed the livelihoods of 15,000 indigenous people and levelled an area of natural rain forest half the size of Wales.
The planned $60 million project would have clear-felled 850,000 hectares of natural forest to make way for a eucalyptus wood-chip and pulping plant. The Indonesian Government had seen the project as spearheading a much wider regional development programme that would have radically changed much of the local environment and peoples' way of life.
A Scott Paper Company spokesperson commented that it felt there was no longer such a demand for eucalyptus. Instead the company would be using more recycled pulp and high yield fibre. The production of this pulp is ecologically more sound as processing methods are mechanical rather than chemical.
From Survival International. 310 Edgware Road, London W2 IDY UK
Down on funny farm
Some European farmers cultivate their subsidies more profitably than the land - and even then their lobbying groups claim the returns are not enough. European Community subsidies alone contribute to producers £260 ($400) a ton on beef and £841 ($1,350) a ton on sheepmeat; that's about l2p and 40p per lb. respectively.
Imagine, points out The Vegetarian Society in its press release The Economics of Food, how sales of meat would suffer if these subsidies were taken off and prices rose accordingly.
Disastrous Community policies and the intervention system have pushed up the annual support for beef to £1,500 million ($2,400 million). It would have been cheaper to dispose of this beef mountain by dumping it in the much-polluted North Sea. But this was averted by sales to Communist countries at embarrassingly low prices and with free transport to the export destinations. Poland and the USSR were paying as little as £400 ($640) a ton that's just l8p (2W) per lb.
From The Vegetarian Society, Parkdale, Dunham Rd. Altrincham, Cheshire WAJ4 4QG. UK
Where in the world?
· Almost half of all high-school seniors in Baltimore, Maryland could not locate the United States on a world map.
· More than 95 per cent of American college freshers tested could not locate Vietnam on a world map.
· In response to a nationwide survey, 75 per cent of Americans could not locate El Salvador on a map.
· The names of the two nations involved in SALT talks (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) could not be named by 63 per cent of Americans.
From Facts: Global Illiteracy USA. Available from Office on Global Education. National Council of Churches, 2115 N Charles St Baltimore, MD 212 18-5755, USA
Lest we forget
Sobering facts just released from the World Health Organization include:
· One billion people, or 20 per cent of the world's population, are diseased, in poor health or malnourished
· The greatest health problems are in sub-Saharan Africa where 160 million or 30 per cent of people are ill and undernourished
· In South and Central America, 90 million or 25 per cent of people are ill
· In North Africa and the Middle East - including Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen - 90 million or 25 per cent of people are ill.
Health spending in the poorest countries averages less than five dollars per head per year. This compares with North America, Japan, Australasia and Western Europe, where spending averages $400 per head.
About 2.8 million children die annually from vaccine-preventable diseases polio, tetanus, measles, diptheria, pertussis and tuberculosis - and another three million are disabled. It costs about $10 per child to vaccinate against the six diseases.
From WHO Features, No. 136, 1989
Thank you Oxfam
The Oxfam UK Annual Review for 1988/89 has some figures to be proud of. Income was a dramatic £66.7 million ($105 million), 28 per cent up on the previous year, itself a record.
The financial achievement was done this year without Lloyds Bank sponsoring the Annual Review. NI readers with long memories may recall our editorial unhappiness (NI 190, page 29) with Oxfam taking £10,000 of Lloyds Bank money to advertise the familiar black horse on their 1987/88 Annual Review. At the same time the same bank was active in clamouring for repayment of £3,253 million ($5,367 million) from Latin America, one of the continents where Oxfam is so active. We appealed to you to write to Oxfam about this particular issue. Perhaps your letters helped change minds. Thank you, Oxfam.
A study of gynaecological and sexual diseases conducted in two Indian villages found that 83 per cent of women suffered from iron-deficiency anaemia and 58 per cent had Vitamin A deficiency. A more unexpected finding in a supposedly traditional Hindu society was that nearly half the unmarried girls had had sexual intercourse.
Further findings: 92 per cent of all women surveyed had one or more gynaecological diseases, each woman suffering on average from 3.6 complaints. Half the diseases consisted of infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease and vaginitis.
The educational opportunities for India's women is little better than the health facilities provided for them; for their literacy rate is half that of men.
From The Lancet, January 14, 1989
'Before you finish eating breakfast this morning, you've depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured ... We aren't going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.'
Rev Martin Luther King Jr.