Fit and Well and Still Learning 10


I am now at my Accra home after some travels in Africa. There is still a sanity and courtesy in the African countryside – even in drought affected Mali and Burkina Faso – that is refreshing to the soul after London. It is a linguistic irony that great cities are so uncivil.

There is no doubt that climate change is affecting West Africa, but not in any way which is easily predictable to the inhabitants, or anyone else. Weather patterns are undoubtedly more unsettled and more capricious, and the reliable seasonal rains and winds I knew apparently a thing of the past. Ghana saw a steady, apparently inexorable and accelerating thirty year decline in water inflow levels behind the Akosombo Dam, suddenly reversed by three years of massive rains reaching the north, which also brought bumper harvests in Mali and Burkina Faso. Then in the last year an extreme rain failure in those same regions.

The lack of food security to millions of marginal Sahelian inhabitants is a problem which has been little tackled despite decades of largely useless – or, I would argue, often counter-productive – international aid efforts. Emergency response is always marginal and does not kick in until a great many have already died. We are not yet there in northern West Africa, but we are in great hardship and economic ruination from which farmers will find it hard to recover, particularly with regards to loss of livestock.

I apologise for these undigested impressions, and will give some more considered problems once I have had a shower and sleep and thought a bit.


10 thoughts on “Fit and Well and Still Learning

  • Mary

    Note the clever insertion of this bit of spin for GM within this Torygraph article preparing us for higher food prices. Remember that Spelman, whose PPS is Mark Simmonds, has an interest through her family business. See below.

    .
    Simmonds has just apologized to the HoC for not declaring his take of £50,000 pa from Circle Health when speaking on the health bill.
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    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/9096299/Farmers-warn-food-prices-could-go-up-because-of-drought.html
    .

    ‘Mrs Spelman also said genetically modified crops could help to produce more food in times of drought.’
    .

    {http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=26456}
    .
    Spelman and agribusiness lobbying
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    Caroline Spelman is the Tory secretary of state for agriculture (Defra).
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    Prior to becoming an MP, she was a lobbyist for agribusiness.
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    She and her husband Mark set up Spelman, Cormack & Associates in 1989 as a food and biotech lobbying firm.
    .
    Cormack is her unmarried name.
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    She resigned as a director—and transferred her share of the company to her husband.
    .
    The minister, who is the main target for agribusiness lobbying, has her name on the lobbying company letterhead.

  • Clark

    Good to hear from you, Craig, and please do blog your impressions as much as you like. Observations are interesting in themselves, but your impressions followed by “some more considered problems” will provide insight into your thinking, which is exactly the sort of openness that is needed in our world, and precisely that which is lacking from the vast majority of politicians, corporations and other concentrations of power.

  • Clark

    “There is still a sanity and courtesy in the African countryside […] that is refreshing to the soul after London”.
    .
    I just had a similar experience by escaping from Essex to Norfolk for a few days.

  • havantaclu

    Thanks for your impressions of West Africa, Craig – I’ve only lived (rather longer ago than I would wish!) in East Africa, but again I remember the courtesy – yes, and the huge sense of humour!- of the African peoples. And their patience under suffering – there was great famine in those days too, especially among the Somali peoples, and although we once tried to go with some food to help, we realised immediately that, as untrained philanthropiosts, we would do more harm than good, and beat a shame-faced retreat.
    .
    I shall never return to Kenya – it’s too long ago, and so much has changed, that I know my nostalgia for what was would colour my perception of what is. Yet I have to agree with Doris Lessing – that once you’ve lived in Africa you feel that it is a part of you and you of it, and it remains calling to you throughout your life.
    .
    Thank you again.

  • ingo

    I would love to undertake a comparisson study between Ghana and Norfolk ;), and I really should take Clark on this exploratory journey, as Essex seems to be missing the vital ingredients. We can find the right potions and bring them back…

    I hope that you’ll have a successfull journey, Craig, and that you will find Adam Werritty somehwere down there, he can’t keep in hiding forever, although Lord Lucan, this up and standing member of the establishment, seems to proof me wrong. When the establishment and Governments collude to disappear someone then it is possible, off course.

  • Clark

    Ingo, we could import all the right potions to Essex, but few of the locals could be persuaded to take them. As they say, “You can lead a horse to water, but if you can make it float on its back you’ve got something”!

  • Mary

    I see Clark as the Flying Angel of the Ethernet. St Clark of Killick?

    .
    Cherie Blair is suing News Int’l for hacking her phone. Nobody is suing T Bliar for having people hacked to death.

  • Iain Orr

    Craig: both immediate impressions and reflections, please. Especially on how the ring-fenced (but redefined and re-targetted) UK aid budget is used. Different foreign policy, trade and EU agriculture and fisheries policies strike me as being far more important. Also interested in the operations and effectivness of UK and international NGO aid.

    Don’t eat too much fufu: bad for your heart. Papaya and mango will give you much of your 5 portions a day. For protein: fish and grasscutters.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Ian Orr,

    ” Different foreign policy, trade and EU agriculture and fisheries policies strike me as being far more important. Also interested in the operations and effectivness of UK and international NGO aid.”

    Indeed – the real problem is that the terms of the so-called “aid” to these countries, oftentimes ends up being as debilitating as the disease of similar name.

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