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Interesting Links

May 25, 2011

Are sweatshops better than the alternative? Perceptions of sweatshop workers in El Salvador

“I have seen for myself just how vital cotton is for millions of farmers in west Africa and the damage caused to their livelihoods by developed country subsidies.”  US subsidies amount to $24 billion over the past ten years, despite the WTO ruling it illegal.

Are “social businesses” the key to improving nutrition in poor urban “food deserts?

What is the best way to know what people in the developing world need? How about listening to them? And furthermore, are development efforts really hampered by lack of knowledge of “what works”, “or is it a lack of respect for local initiatives and understanding about complex power dynamics that impede authentic relationships among development partners?”

In Shinyanga, Tanzania, men and women split into two separate groups to discuss the causes of hunger, its impacts, and how people respond: Some notable differences:


Causes: lack of fertilisers, infrastructure and seeds; drought; environmental mismanagement
Impacts: hunger; sickness; death; street kids; rising crime and poverty
How people respond: reduce the number of meals; do more day labour on other farms; sell off cattle and assets; borrow money and as a last resort, split the family up and send members to places where they can find food (eg with relatives elsewhere in Tanzania).


Causes: drought; deforestation; lack of tools; infidelity, prostitution and drunkenness (which all deprive families of income)
Impacts: disease; divorce; ignorance (kids dropping out of school)
How people respond: women look to friends and family for support, men try to find other women; women forced to start unprofitable petty businesses; children forced to beg.

A corresponding interview with a women named Thelezia Salula gave some insights into her challenges as a small scale farmer. She does all the farming work yet her husbands name is on the village lease? They cannot get a title deed which isn’t susceptible to appropriation. There are no good options for rice storage and therefore must sell when prices are low and buy when prices are high. They cannot access regional markets where prices are better. Global warming (presumably) is making the rains more unpredictable and the younger generation  wants to leave farming and move to the city.

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