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Is that the time already?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/apr/25/humanitarian-aid-war-linda-polman

I read Linda Polman’s ‘War Games’ earlier this year, a disturbing look at how donated aid can serve to perpetrate the cycles of war and and dependency, with reference to African nations, chiefly. And that book has very much been in my mind with the emergency/famine in the Horn of Africa.

As has my membership  (there, interest declared) of the charity Population Matters. But i assure you my comments are mine alone.

Of course saving lives is important but is it not every bit as important as taking action to prevent more deaths by famine in the future? By which i mean when families of 5 children or more are seeking help (as they must, they are desperate) once those who can be saved are stabilised, why is it not made a condition of further support that the families are obliged to accept long-term contaceptive measures eg injections for woman and vasectomise for me? I know if you have land you need children to help you work it – but surely it is better to have 2 healthy children than 6 malnourished sickly children? The bigger the family the more land you will try to work, and the more cattle you will seek to own. And that leads to more deforestation which contributes to drought. It may well be the developed nations’ cavalier attitude to caring for the planet which is a big cause of extreme weather conditions but it is still the impoverished people in parts of Africa which bear the brunt of this. And smaller families are easier to feed clothe educate etc. Would not those who scrape a living in the Horn of Africa prefer to raise 2 or 3 heakthy children than forever be burying sick offspring?

So is it residual guilt over the colonisation of the past which prevents us from enabling those who are suffering now to understand what they might do to look after themselves better? I know this is not all of it but it is part of the reason so many in the west think of Africa as a scrawny child with a begging bowl, when much of the continent is not like that.

And religion will play a part too. But really, by simply stepping in to feed the starving millions every time the climate slaps down the worlds poorest people again, we in the west really are part of the problem, and not just as the planets worst environmental polluters and over consumers of the planet’s resources.

So i don’t give to aid funds like this. I give to Population Matters and Marie Stopes International.

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