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Understanding Neoliberalism: A Marxist Analysis May 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Consumersim, Development & Change, Development Studies, Economics, Free development vs authoritarian model, Globalization, Growth and Inequqlity, Neoliberalism.
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Neoliberalism, Harvey writes, is “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms…within an institutional framework [of] strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade” [8]. He goes on to write that neoliberalism “seeks to bring all human action into the domain of the market” [9]. In short, neoliberalism offers a set of market-based solutions to social ills. It supposes that problems experienced collectively can be conquered by individuals. An important aspect of this an antipathy to state intervention. The state, in the neoliberal understanding, only gets in the way of individual entrepreneurs who want to alleviate problems. Hence, deregulation is a prime aspect of neoliberal practice. To quote Steger and Roy in Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction, “the state is to refrain from interfering with the economic activities of self-interested citizens” [10]. Neoliberalism presents a profound hatred of collective action in favor of individual motivation. This does not mean, however, that the state under neoliberalism is impotent, ineffectual, or meaningless. On the contrary. Although the regulatory and public service components of the state will be stripped bare under neoliberalism (we will examine this in more detail later), the military and police-the repressive state apparatus-will be inflated to new heights. Harvey writes that the state must “secure private property rights and…guarantee, by force if need by, the proper functioning of markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist [in water, healthcare, and education, for example] then they must be created, by state action if necessary” [11]. Neoliberalism, then, is not against the state. It is against the state when it interferes with market mechanisms, but is perfectly happy to lean on the state when the neoliberal order is resisted or challenged. Under neoliberalism, the state must protect the interests of the aforementioned entrepreneurial individuals (the capitalists). It will not hesitate to use violence to do this.

It should be noted that this process of violent state intervention has been common, literally, since the very beginning of capitalism. An important part of the development of capitalism in England, for instance, was the land enclosure.  rich landowners used their control of state processes to appropriate public land for their private benefit. This created a landless working class that provided the labor required in the new industries developing in the north of England. EP Thompson writes, “in agriculture the years between 1760 and 1820 are the years of wholesale enclosure in which, in village after village, common rights are lost” [12]. He goes on to say,  “Enclosure (when all the sophistications are allowed for) was a plain enough case of class robbery” [13].

Click here to read more at  Write To Rebel: Understanding Neoliberalism: A Marxist Analysis

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Ethiopia is one of the 19 poorest, unhappiest, unhealthiest, and most dangerous countries in the world November 8, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Development, Development & Change, Development Studies, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Free development vs authoritarian model.
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Odaa OromoooromianeconomistEthiopia's regime crimes in OgadenMore reinforcement of Ethiopia's regime fascist ( Agazi) soldiers arrived in Begi, West Walaga, Oromia, 29 July  2016. p2Grand #OromoProtests, Grand ‪#‎OromoProtests‬ full scale Military massacre  has been conducted by Ethiopia's fascsit regimei n Naqamte, East Walaga. 6 August 2016 pctureSuruma people of the Omo Valley are being tortured by  fascist Ethiopia (Agazi) forces because  they protested their land being taken for Sugar  plantationEthiopia's scores in freedom in the world  2016, freedom House World Report, January 2016.Agazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015to-have-facebook-is-illegal-in-ethiopia


The Independent: The 19 poorest, unhappiest, unhealthiest, and most dangerous nations in the world

(Comoros, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Libya, Niger, Guinea, Pakistan, Burundi, Angola, Mauritania, Iraq,  Chad, DR Congo,  Sudan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Yemen).


Many of the countries that feature toward the bottom end of the index have been hit hard by wars and outbreaks of disease.

The countries are generally lacking in strong economies, governments, and education systems.


The Legatum Institute, a London based research institute released its 10th annual global Prosperity Index, a huge survey that ranks the most prosperous countries in the world, on Thursday 3rd November 2016.

Prosperity may mostly be used to talk about money, but the Legatum Institute thinks there is more to it than that.

The organisation compared 104 separate variables to come up with its list. These variables include traditional indicators like per-capita gross domestic product and the number of people in full-time work, but also more interesting areas such as social tolerance and how good a nation’s internet is.

The variables are then split into nine subindexes: economic quality, business environment, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, social capital, and natural environment.

We’ve already shown you the 25 countries that the Prosperity Index rated as the most prosperous, or in other words, the happiest, wealthiest, and most crime-free places on earth. Now it’s time to look at the countries at the other end of the list.

Many of the countries that feature toward the bottom end of the index have been hit hard by wars and outbreaks of disease. They are generally lacking in strong economies, governments, and education systems.

We’ve taken the bottom 19 countries from the Legatum Institute’s index and ranked them in reverse order, where No. 1 represents the “least prosperous” country.

The index looked at the 149 countries in the world that have the most available data. As a result, it should be noted that certain prominent countries, including Syria and North Korea, do not feature because of a lack of available data.

19. Comoros — The tiny island nation of the Comoros is pretty safe in the grand scheme of things, ranking 69th out of 149 countries. However, it ranks as one of the least prosperous nations thanks to bottom 20 scores in five of nine subindexes, including being 135th in the entrepreneurship subindex.

18. Ethiopia — Ethiopia scored pretty well in some subindexes, but low levels of entrepreneurship and opportunity, and a bad score in the education subindex mean that the Legatum Institute ranks it as one of the 20 least prosperous countries on Earth.

ethiopia-getty.jpg
(Getty Images)

17. Liberia — It was hit badly by 2014’s Ebola virus epidemic, and almost 5,000 people were killed in the country. As a result Liberia’s score in the health subindex was in the bottom five, its worst individual subindex score.

16. Mali — While it scored in the top 100 nations for personal freedom and social capital, Mali was pushed down the Prosperity Index by having a bottom five education score.

15. Nigeria — Nigeria may have one of Africa’s most powerful economies, but it scored pretty poorly in all nine subindexes, with its lowest rank being in safety and security, reflecting the presence of militant groups like Boko Haram and the Niger Delta Avengers.

nigeria-crisis.jpg

14. Libya — After the ousting of brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi, it was hoped that Libya would prosper, but a power vacuum and years of fighting have ravaged the country. The Legatum Institute puts it in the bottom 10 for personal freedom, governance, and entrepreneurship.

13. Niger — Niger faces similar problems to Nigeria when it comes to terrorist groups like Boko Haram, although it scores relatively highly (87th) for safety and security. Its worst individual subindex score came in education, where it was 3rd last.

12. Guinea — Despite a natural environment ranking in the top 60 globally, terrible scores for health and education keep Guinea’s overall ranking incredibly low, making it the 12th least prosperous nation surveyed.

11. Pakistan — Despite having fairly good scores for both economy and governance, Pakistan was ranked as one of the seven most unsafe countries on Earth. It has the worst natural environment of any nation, according to the Legatum Institute.

pakistan-sectarian-killings2.jpg

10. Burundi — Improving its position from the 5th least prosperous nation in 2015, Burundi’s top score came for personal freedom (101 out of 149). It was dead last when it comes to social capital.

9. Angola — Angola, on Africa’s south west coast, is oil rich, but not at all prosperous, according to the Legatum Institute. It is in the bottom 20 countries in all nine subindexes.

8. Mauritania — The North African country has a pretty good score for social capital (it’s 82nd out of 142 countries) but is in the bottom 15 for six of the 15 sub-indexes, meaning that it comfortably makes our list as one of the least prosperous countries on Earth.

7. Iraq — As one of the areas occupied by ISIS, it is not hugely surprising to see Iraq rank in the bottom three of the safety and security subindex. Despite ranking in the top 100 in one subindex — social capital — Iraq ranks 143rd out of the 149 countries surveyed.

iraq-smoke.jpg

6. Chad — In 2014, only the Central African Republic was less prosperous than Chad. Last year it was the 4th least prosperous, but it has improved its position again this year. It’s highest subindex score came for natural environment.

5. Democratic Republic of Congo — Citizens in the Democratic Republic of Congo have to contend with the country being ranked as the second most unsafe country in the whole Prosperity Index. Its top subindex score was 131st in social capital.

4. Sudan — Sudan has fallen from 134th last year to 145th now. The country’s citizens are the second-least free of any in the Prosperity Index, and it ranks in the bottom ten for all but two subindexes.

south-sudan1.jpg

3. Central African Republic — As its name suggests, the country is located in the heart of Africa. The nation has improved its standing from least prosperous in 2015 to 3rd least this year, despite ranking in the bottom 10 in all but one subindex.

2. Afghanistan — Ravaged by war for decades, it is perhaps unsurprising that Afghanistan ranked as having the worst personal freedom of all countries surveyed, and the third-worst for governance. These factors, combined with poor scores across the board make it second-least prosperous of any country surveyed, the same position as 2015.

1. Yemen — Devastated by civil war, Yemen is dead last in the economy, entrepreneurship, and governance subindexes, second last in social capital, and in the bottom three for personal freedom.


Click here to read on the 25 richest, healthiest, happiest, and most advanced countries in the world

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN ETHIOPIA: A BLESSING OR A CURSE? March 7, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Colonizing Structure, Development Studies, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Free development vs authoritarian model, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooAddis Standard

 

The TPLF Corruption network

OPINION: FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN ETHIOPIA: A BLESSING OR A CURSE?


By J. Bonsa, PhD,   ADDISSTANDARD,   MARCH 03, 2016 


 

In conflict prone contexts, foreign investors, especially whose actions while entering a given country were not subject to checks and balances, may undermine political stability and fuel social unrest.Depending on the level of accountability in the recipient country, foreign direct investment (FDI) could be a blessing or a curse.

In this piece, I will attempt to highlight Ethiopia’s political economy and the setting for the operations of foreign investors.

 

Peculiar political context

Notwithstanding the announcement of a 100% electoral victory by the ruling EPRDF, the fact remains that Ethiopia has never had a fully representative government. This rather unique situation means it is naïve to discuss Ethiopia’s current affairs by applying standard rhetoric.Doing so fails to capture the peculiarity of the situation on the ground. For instance, familiar phrases such as“dictatorial regime” or “totalitarian government” do not fully capture the essence of the current political system in Ethiopia.

 

The key to understand the strange nature of the ERPDF government, a coalition of four parties, is to recognize it as a system of “internal colonial rule” led by one powerful party, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).It is a conspicuous knowledge held by many that EPRDF essentially means TPLF.

 

The loyalty towards TPLF of Ethiopia’s military and security apparatus has remained the only source of EPRDF’s strength and tight grip on power. Without further ado it is suffice to mention that the country’s army generals and high ranking officers hail from Tigray, the geographic location home to TPLF. In turn the army’s brutal efficiency in military and security command system has earned the TPLF an extraordinary reputation and near complete political upper hand in the eyes of the other three parties within the coalition.

 

Technically that leaves Ethiopia with a reverse political system: the world is familiar with majority-rule and minority-rights, Ethiopia’s, on the other hand,is a political system without even some majority-rights. Today’s TPLF dominated EPRDF needed to be certain that the majority would not have the bare minimum of rights, because, if allowed, this might eventually lead to the emergence of democracy.

 

Business as unusual

The political and military power disparity favoring a single party has also caused divergences in economic and domestic private investment opportunities. This resulted in the emergence of domestic crony capitalism of the ugliest type. Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), the acronym that has more than 50 companies under its control, owns its presence and dominance to the growing trend of domestic crony capitalism.

 

In the last 25 years EFFORT has emerged as the most powerful domestic business conglomerate controlling the commanding heights of the Ethiopian economy. Its monopoly on the Ethiopian economy ranges from heavy engineering, construction, import and exports (of key capital and raw materials including fertilizers on which all Ethiopian farmers rely) to freight and passenger transport, wholesale and retail distributions. And yet, there is little information about EFFORT that is available for the general public.

 

It is a misnomer to describe EFFORT as a business group “affiliated to the government”. But Ethiopians know that the same groups of people who occupy government positions are also owners of the companies under EFFORT.

 

And as of late another unlikely business monopoly has emerged in the form of the military establishment, the same military whose top leadership is either loyal to or under the indirect control of TPLF. METeC, a company run by the national army, is having an elaborate business interest from production of computers and flat screen TVs to heavy metals, car assembly and hotels. Once again, there is no or little information available to the public on the exact nature of METeC’s business empire.

 

The dark horse

It is within this political reality that one needs to look into the economic aspects, including the manner by which the EPRDF led government is regulating the flow of FDI. It is a public knowledge that cronyism has, by and large, emerged as the trade mark of EPRDF’s economic governance over the past two decades, including its deals with foreign companies operating in the country.

 

As of this writing, news is coming that protesters in Guji zone of southern Ethiopia and Dembi Delo of western Ethiopia are targeting the two gold mines in the area owned by the MIDROC Ethiopia Investment Group. To understand this boiling public frustration, it is important to acknowledge that the people of Ethiopia have no knowledge about how these two gold mines were sold to MEDROC in the first place, and to evaluate whether the people in the areas where the natural resources are being ferociously extracted have stood to benefit from it in any way. It is also important to know that the name MIDROC stands for Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies, a name that implies nothing about the nature of the vast business functioning under its umbrella. For Many Ethiopians, therefore,MIDROC is the dark horse that appeared on the scene from nowhere but spread itself in all sectors of the Ethiopian economy at alarming pace.

 

For much of the first decade under EPRDF’s rule, Ethiopia suffered a serious setback in attracting foreign investment. Foreign investors were cautious (rightly), observing the unhealthy governance system as a risk not worth taking. However, during those days, MIDROC Ethiopia was often presented as a cover up to entice other foreign investors, giving the impression that the EPRDF regime was trustworthy and foreign investment was safe to flow in. That, and its sworn allegiance to the ruling party in power, gave MIDROC the opportunity to enjoy unparalleled access to Ethiopia’s natural resources. This was done primarily because the EPRDF could count on MIDROC as a foreign investor. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development once reported that about 60 per cent of the overall foreign direct investment approved in Ethiopia was related to MIDROC.

 

MEDROC’s expansions began with acquisitions of many previous public enterprises – manufacturing branches, state farms, gold mines, and other mineral resources mostly outside of public scrutiny. MIDROC is most commonly associated with land grabs in many parts of Oromiya, at the heart of Addis Abeba and Gambella, causing havocs through evictions of millions of households from their ancestral lands.

 

The other murky deals

The contradictions in Ethiopia’s business environment are rather perplexing. On the one hand the TPLF dominated regime in Addis Abeba has a very hostile attitude to private domestic investors. Ethiopia has remained at the bottom of World Bank’s country ranks in ease of doing business, ranking 146th out of 189 countries in 2015. But EFFORT, METeC and MDROC business empires and their affiliates are exempt from such restrictions and the little private businesses in the country have to survive the three to make a meaningful economic gain.

 

On the other hand Ethiopia is known for making extraordinary concessions to attract foreign investors, particularly during the last decade. Here is the question – why such officious treatmentfor foreign investors when private business are forced to eat dirt? The answer lies in the assumption that the government often acts in the interest of domestic cronies – foreign investors are needed to camouflage EFFORT’s aggressive expansions. The deals to couple EFFORT with foreign businesses are surrounded by dark secrets; details are unavailable to the general public. Foreign investors have often been lured into joint ventures with party owned or affiliated local companies. The recent US$30 million worth deal between a local pharmaceutical company owned by EFFORT and a foreign company symbolizes that assertion. The overlap between the operations of domestic oligopolistic companies and their foreign counterparts is so much that it is difficult to know where one ends and the other begins.

 

The recent fall out between the government in Ethiopia and the Karuturi Global Ltd has revealed the murky nature of foreign investment deals in Ethiopia that prompted many to summarize “in Ethiopia, foreign investment is a fancy word for stealing land”. In 2010, Karuturi Global Ltd was given a concession to develop 300, 000 hectares of agricultural land in Gambella. However, in Dec. 2015, the deal collapsed when the Agricultural Ministry’s land investment agency “cancelled the concession on the grounds that by 2012 Karuturi had developed only 1,200 hectares of land within the initial two year period of the contract.” There is a lot more into this fall out than meet the eye, least the fate of the hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who were forced to give up their lands to give way to a deal they know nothing about.

 

But one of the most unsettling details to emerge out of this fiasco was the claim by Karuturi Global Ltd management that the land was forced upon them by the local authorities despite their insistence otherwise. At first glance this may sound awkward, as if the foreign investor and the Ethiopian authorities switched sides in the process of bargaining. However, for someone who is familiar with the shrewd operations of doing business in Ethiopia it is easy to know why Ethiopian officials were forcing the foreign investor to take 30 times more than it said it could handle. One plausible explanation held by many is that since enough land grabbing had already been done by the cronies during the previous decades, authorities found it prudent to frame a foreign investor as a vehicle to continue land expropriation.

 

In the wake of a possible persistence of protests by Ethiopians, protesters’ targeted attacks against foreign companies operating in Ethiopia may come as sheer anarchic for outsiders. But as long as the people of Ethiopia are kept in the dark as to the nature of the real deals between foreign companies and a government flawed by asymmetrical party coalition (deals that symbolize a life deprived of its means and style),incidents of targeted public outrage against selected foreign companies should not come as a shock.

 

The same explanation holds true for the land expropriations for flower farms and industrial parks in Oromiya, particularly in the vicinity of Addis Abeba. It is for such reasons that the infamous Addis Abeba Master Plan was formulated, eyeing 20 times more land that would be transformed into wasteful industrial parks all in the name of attracting foreign investment the nature of it is kept secret from the very people it greatly affects.

 

ED’s Note: J. Bonsa is an economist by training. He can be reached atdinade0612@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial principles of Addis Standard.


Opinion: Foreign investment in Ethiopia: a blessing or a curse?


 

Grand developmentalism: MDGs and SDGs in Sub-Saharan Africa June 3, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Development & Change, Development Studies, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Poverty, UN's New Sustainable Development Goals.
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???????????Poverty

 

 

“Development should be all about satisfying the needs of the people and improving their livelihood patterns. Development should be what the people actually want or need, and not what national governments or global institutions think that the people need or want. The MDGs – as aresult of modernization and neo-liberal ideologies – were articulated and presented by the international agencies as “real development’’ or as legitimate solutions to the development problems of people in the respective countries of the Global South. But in reality, they did not capture the priorities and problems facing the people in those contexts. The issue of sustainability is embedded in what people actually want and people are at the centre of sustainable development. The authors of the MDGs do not find out what the people really want – instead, they designed and formulated the goals on different assumptions, thus reinforcing the existing power relations in the global structure of power.”

“The argument that the Global South is facing problems of development may be generally true, but the problems are not actually defined and understood within the context of situations and everyday realities in the respective countries. It is thus important not to make general statements of development, but to concretise them in relation to the contexts and settings where they are to be applied. Both the MDGs and the SDGs, as general or universal frameworks for global development practice, fail to acknowledge how this general problem finds its expression in the concerned countries.”

 

“…An independent development commission should be inaugurated by the United Nations General Assembly in each country that is signatory to the post-2015 development agenda. The commission should be allowed to perform its responsibilities independently without undue interference from national governments and international institutions. The composition of the commission should include: local activists and NGOs, a national government official, local academics, development experts, a UNDP official and a representative of global financial institutions. The commission should be saddled with matter relating with global development financing, fund disbursement, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of development projects. The commission must also ensure that funds are channelled to approved projects, projects are executed according to approved standards and reflect the real costs of the projects. In evaluating the projects, the commission should develop its own yardstick for measuring whether targets and indicators outlined to actualise (a) particular goal(s) are achieved or not. This will help to checkmate the griming reality of weak state institutions, corruption and mismanagement that undermined the performance of the MDGs especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.” – A. Bayo Ogunrotifa, Pambazuka  News,    Issue 728

 

Grand developmentalism: MDGs and SDGs in Sub-Saharan Africa

A. Bayo Ogunrotifa*, Pambazuka  News, Issue 728

INTRODUCTION

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, international development efforts have been coalesced around the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are a set of ambitious goals and national targets put forward and ratified by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – however, a significant progress towards reaching the targets has been notably achieved or deemed successful in some countries but in others, especially in sub-Sahara Africa, the progress has been marginal or deemed unsuccessful. A variety of factors has been attributed to this failure: over-ambitious goals themselves and unrealistic expectations (Clemens & Moss 2005); aid dependence over growth and self-reliance (Manning 2010); lack of ownership and commitment (Amin 2006; Ogunrotifa 2012); limited state capacities and governance incapabilities (Mishra 2004; Oya 2011); non-emphasis on sustainable development (Sachs 2012); evaluation and implementation problems (Fukuda-Parr & Greenstein); and the failure to take into account different national realities, capacities and development levels (Rippin 2013).

The outlined factors are just symptoms and not the real issue that undermine the achievement of the MDGs in Africa. The fundamental trouble associated with the MDGs is the way in which goals, targets and indicators articulated in the programme of the MDGs are conceived, defined and formulated, which are in sharp contrast to the real world situation and do not reflect the true picture of what is on ground in Africa. This is regarded as ‘’grand developmentalism’’—the general and narrow way in which development issues are defined and problematized takes priority over questions posed by the empirical world.

This has important implications on international discussions on the post-2015 development agenda that emphasises the incorporation of visionary indigenous and independent development paths and ideas on the successor agenda to the expiring MDGs (the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs) that is currently in discussion.

WHAT IS ‘GRAND DEVELOPMENTALISM?’

The term ‘grand developmentalism’ was coined from the notion of conceptual fetishism articulated by C. Wright Mills in his treatise on sociological imagination (1959). Mills argues that abstracted empiricism loses its grip on social reality by prioritising methods rather than the problems of the empirical world. Mills posits that grand theory engages in a fetishization of abstract concepts in place of genuine and substantive problems of the empirical world.

In other words, it is the concepts rather than the actual problems that are of paramount importance to grand theorists. However, grand theory is particularly relevant to this paper because of its engagement with development discourse. Grand developmentalism is the dialectical engagement of grand theory but goes beyond the remit of the later. In grand developmentalism, development issues are problematized on the basis of narrow or general definition without adequate empirical grounding, such that the conceptual frames and schemes are created on the basis of a narrow problem definition. If the problem definition is flawed, the conceptual schemes, variables and methodology to interrogate the issue and arrive at workable solutions, will also be flawed, while the evaluation and implementation process will be problematic.

Development I define in this paper as solving the social problems of the people (citizens) in socio-culturally appropriate and locally sustainable ways, as they [problems] are experienced, perceived and understood by the people. This definition is in sharp contrast to the western-centric development paradigm that conceived the global north as ‘’developed’’ and the Global South as “underdeveloped’’ and that the latter needs to be more modern and develop by catching up with the former. International agencies (as appendages of the western imperialistic establishment) reinforce this development paradigm by ensuring that they control the aspirations of the Global South, and redefine their problems, priorities and realities in a way that has nothing to do with the actual situations.

Grand developmentalism lost all contact with the social, cultural and historical dimension of development of the societies it purports to offer solutions because it works at a high level of generality and superficiality. Given the degree of generality in its problem definition, grand developmentalism creates concepts that are suitable to the narrowly defined problem, whereas concepts should have been derived from the empirical world. This therefore negates the contextual and specific problem of development it seeks to analyse and proffer solutions.

MDGS: A FORM OF GRAND DEVELOPMENTALISM

The Millennium Development Goals are an outcome of the United Nations Millennium summit held in the year 2000. The origin of the MDGs goes back much further in time, and some of the most important components will be discussed in this paper. In fact, it is important to strip the MDGs naked in order to flesh out their basis, compositions and essentials. The MDGs comprise of 8 goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators. The goals and targets have been set (mostly) for 2015, using 1990 as a benchmark or baseline. They evolve out of the ‘resolutions of 23 international conferences and summits held between 1990 and 2005’ (Rippin 2013). They are clearly worked out by an ‘’Inter-agency and Expert Group on the Millennium Development Goal Indicators (IAEG), consisting of experts from the DAC, World Bank, IMF and UNDP’’ (Manning 2009; c.f. Hulme 2009; Hulme 2010). The development as understood in the MDGs is a reflection of neo-liberalism and a modernisation approach that seeks to reinforce the hegemony of the Western economic model in the Global South, and strengthen their mainstream development discourse. The 8 goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators articulated in the MDGs programme are quantitative in nature, design and outlook. They are designed to be evaluated and measured in a statistical format[1] .

The most obvious shortcomings associated with the quantitative approach are that they do not reveal the real life situations or subjective dimension of the life world of the people, context and settings under study. These goals, targets and indicators are the perfect example and reflections of grand developmentalism as they imply that development “research starts with a concern for numbers or measurement, which it elevates over the specific qualities of the empirical world it is attempting to analyse’’ (Gane 2012: 154). Technocrats of the respective agencies are unduly rigid towards the use of quantitative methodology and techniques – which is not wrong in itself, but in this case implies the impositions of quantitative techniques on all aspects and dimensions of development issues and problems regardless of the specific contexts and demands of the empirical world. The sort of difficulties inherent in the MDGs stemmed from the philosophical and methodological foundations that underpin the conception of the programme itself. The MDGs as a form of grand developmentalism can be expressed exemplary in the following ways:

POVERTY REDUCTION AND HUNGER

The targets and indicators used to define, measure and tackle poverty and hunger obscure the nature of reality or real life experience of poverty in developing countries. Questions that need to be asked instead are: what are the natures of poverty in different countries of the Global South (but also Global North)? Is the poverty situation in Nigeria the same as the nature and level of poverty in Bangladesh and Vietnam? How is poverty seen and defined by the people in developing countries? What are policies that generate and engender poverty? Does the poverty situation transcend the global yardstick of US$1 per day [1993 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)], or rather, what are the cultural, social, historical and moral dimensions of poverty? The established targets of reducing by half the proportion of people whose income is less than US$1 a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger is a one-size-fit-all yardstick that cannot adequately measure poverty and hunger. This is a danger of grand developmentalism.

GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN

The issue of gender and women empowerment features prominently in the third goal of the MDGs, and this intersects with primary education with respect to equality between boys and girls in terms of primary school enrolment. However, it is unclear what forms and shape gender takes in developing countries as far as the MDGs are concerned. Inability to understand how gender is entrenched and shapes the everyday lives of people in different places will affect efforts being made to address gender inequality in access to education and women empowerment. The MDGs failed to adequately capture the social, cultural and historical contexts that underpinned and shaped gender in developing countries; and the sorts of cultural beliefs and practices that promote gender inequality in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). In fact, without delving into the questions of what sorts of cultural practices inhibit girls’ education and what forms of national policies promote gender inequality in education enrolment and attainment, achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment will remain unrealistic and vague.

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

The most important targets to achieve environmental sustainability—which is the seventh goal of the MDGs—is to integrate the principles of sustainable development into national and global policies; reduce-by-half the proportion of people who have no access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation; and to improve the living conditions of slum dwellers. The indicators to achieve these targets seemed unrealistic and unworkable. This stems from the fact that the MDGs did not take into consideration the low level of industrialisation, the contribution of carbon emission to global carbon emission, and the policies and programmes that undermine the sustainable provision of clean drinking water in the Global South. The complexities inherent in the local realities of environmental sustainability make the targets and indicators impracticable. Furthermore, it is problematic that the western world, which is entirely responsible for the environmental problems the Global South is facing, is not mentioned in this goal and, even more remarkable, is not even asked to reduce their emissions or to make drinking water available by not letting firms like Nestlé etc. privatise the drinking water of the world! As a form of grand developmentalism, the issue posed by environmental sustainability in the MDGs did not address the nature of capitalistic policies that promote environmental problems in the Global South. This indicates that the important targets responsible for environmental problems in the Global South as far as the MDGs are concerned are neglected while unrealistic targets are put forward.

UNRELIABLE SOURCE OF FINANCING

The implementation of programmes and projects required a guaranteed financial war chest to achieve its overall targets and objectives. Yet, as far as the MDGs are concerned, there is no guaranteed financial outlay or specialised savings and international gold reserve for their attainment. The means to finance MDG measures are based on financial pledges and commitments from the Global North. The financial commitment from developed countries is premised on the condition that recipient countries must operate openly and non-discriminatory towards the global trading and financial system. This is meant by the “global partnership for development’’. Basically, it determines that poorer countries must be part of a neo-liberal system that requires recipient countries to open their markets for all goods from the North before they can receive Official Development Assistance (ODA), aid and grants, and debt relief from the latter. This is not only problematic because donor countries may experience financial crises and economic recession and may not be able to fulfil their financial commitment and pledges. It may render aid dependent relationships futile and put the attainment of the MDGs into serious challenges. As the source of financing is not based on the size of the economies and the GDP of the respective LDCs but depends on foreign aid as the main source of financing, there is no independent financial pathway for developing countries to achieve the MDGs other than ODA, debt relief, aid and grants articulated in the eighth goal.

EVALUATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF MDGS

The millennium declaration that paves way for the endorsement of the MDGs in the global space was made in 2000 while the benchmark of its implementation was backdated to 1990. Technically, there was a period of 15 years to implement the MDGs across different societies in the LDCs. But it is unclear how the MDGs would be implemented in the Global South within the said period. Are the MDGs producing the intended effect? Are there targets set for each year? How are the targets going to be achieved? How much does it cost to achieve the targets? Whose agencies or institutions are saddled with the responsibility of monitoring, evaluating and implementing the MDGs? Do beneficiaries of development projects talk back about the effects of the projects? When they do, are their voices reflected as ‘’native’’ point of view or disciplined and translated to institutional points of view?

While in some settings in the Global South, measurement, evaluation and implementation are being taken seriously inability to take these questions in some settings into consideration constitutes a problem for measuring the progress and performance of the MDGs’ progress such that “even in the case of countries with a perceptible acceleration of progress consideration doubt has been raised whether this acceleration is the result of real national commitment or rather an effort of ‘speaking the language’ in order to secure donors’ support’’ (Rippin 2013: 19). This problem of evaluation and implementation makes the MDGs a form of grand developmentalism.

SUSTAINABILITY DEFICIT

The third critique is the huge sustainability deficit inherent in the MDGs. Development should be all about satisfying the needs of the people and improving their livelihood patterns. Development should be what the people actually want or need, and not what national governments or global institutions think that the people need or want. The MDGs – as aresult of modernization and neo-liberal ideologies – were articulated and presented by the international agencies as “real development’’ or as legitimate solutions to the development problems of people in the respective countries of the Global South. But in reality, they did not capture the priorities and problems facing the people in those contexts. The issue of sustainability is embedded in what people actually want and people are at the centre of sustainable development. The authors of the MDGs do not find out what the people really want – instead, they designed and formulated the goals on different assumptions, thus reinforcing the existing power relations in the global structure of power. Sustainability here is linked significantly to ownership, participation and power-relations. The centrality of sustainable development indicates that people’s ownership and participation in the development conception and design will promote the sustainability of such project. I believe that people protect and sustain development projects that emanate from them and address their needs and wishes. The MDGs are suffering from sustainable deficits because there is no provision for how the projects would be sustained by the people who are the end-users.

A NOTE ON THE PROPOSED SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS)

The UN and other international (development) agencies are currently working on post-2015 development agenda. Following the UN conference in Rio de Janeiro (2012), an Open Working Group was established to develop a set of sustainable development goals that will be part ofthe UN development agenda beyond 2015.[2]

From the outline of the SDG proposal, it is already clear that the basic premise underlying development is still unchanged. The development paradigm is still a top-down approach; implying that the Global South is incapable of facilitating its own development without external assistance and seeks to foster aid-dependent relationships. The SDG proposal implies the notion that the respective countries of the Global South are incapable of driving and engendering their own developmental initiatives. The SDG proposal as a development programme is founded on the basis of modernisation and neo-liberal approaches whose rendition serves as the prism that shapes the orientation and mandate of international agencies towards acting as a sole repository of ‘legitimate’ development solutions that will ensure that development in the Global South is fast-tracked to the pace of development in the global north without having to undergo latter’s historical circumstances and processes. This imposition of development strategies and ideas on the Global South is the basis of grand developmentalism as people in the Global South are not allowed to control their development destiny and define their problems and priorities in relations to their respective local realities. This inhibits the ability of the Global South to develop according to their own pace, capacities and realities.

What is questionable in the proposal is how different national priorities and realities are taken into consideration. The SDGs set global targets for measuring development, with the authors of the SDGs assuming that those goals and targets are the legitimate solutions to development problems faced by the respective countries in the Global South, which they will not object to. What will be problematic in the proposed SDGs is that the definition of development problems and priorities will be put together in some capital city of the Global South where “policy is thus bureaucratised and depoliticised through ‘commonsense’’ practices such as planning and strategies” (Escobar 1991: 667) which are exogenous to social and political situations or been derived vis-à-vis grassroots movements.

Third, the SDGs are the rehash of the MDGs in terms of financing. Huge development projects and programmes implicit in the SDGs require guaranteed levels of financing for them to be executed and implemented. So far, it is not clear at all how guaranteed financial outlay or specialised savings and international gold reserve for the attainment of the SDGs are spelt out – and whether the third conference on financing for development in July 2015[3] will see an end to this.

Finally, the notion of ‘’sustainability’’ in the SDGs document is vague. What sorts of social relations to the grassroots are involved in the design, planning and implementation of development projects? What forms of power do the SDGs foster or undermine? The fundamental crux of the proposed SDGs is that international agencies’ notion of development articulated in the document prioritised and privileged bureaucratic and institutional definition of the problem rather than the actual problems obtained in local contexts. Sustainability in the SDG case is non-existent because people in the Global South are not the driver nor are they at the centre of such sustainable development initiatives, and as such, they are incapable of sustaining development projects that are not of their own making.

CONCLUSION: TOWARDS A POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

The argument that the Global South is facing problems of development may be generally true, but the problems are not actually defined and understood within the context of situations and everyday realities in the respective countries. It is thus important not to make general statements of development, but to concretise them in relation to the contexts and settings where they are to be applied. Both the MDGs and the SDGs, as general or universal frameworks for global development practice, fail to acknowledge how this general problem finds its expression in the concerned countries.

As far as the discussion on the post-2015 development agenda is concerned, a participatory process must urgently be facilitated. It must start from grassroots development research where local activists, anthropologists, sociologists and NGOs are engaged with a view to mapping out the real development problems faced by the people and identify sustainable solutions to them. The participatory process should proceed towards national consultations where policy makers, economists, and development experts are engaged in debates, deliberations and discussions about the findings of grassroots development research. Through this participatory medium, national capacity, the characteristics of the economy (i.e. GDP), and a country’s financial state would have to be taken into consideration and formulated into national priorities, targets and indicators for achieving national development goals. Thereafter, a thematic consultation between the national governments and global institutions should be facilitated. This would ensure that important national development issues with differentiated targets that reflect a universal goal framework are derived in a participatory process.

Secondly, an independent development commission should be inaugurated by the United Nations General Assembly in each country that is signatory to the post-2015 development agenda. The commission should be allowed to perform its responsibilities independently without undue interference from national governments and international institutions. The composition of the commission should include: local activists and NGOs, a national government official, local academics, development experts, a UNDP official and a representative of global financial institutions. The commission should be saddled with matter relating with global development financing, fund disbursement, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of development projects. The commission must also ensure that funds are channelled to approved projects, projects are executed according to approved standards and reflect the real costs of the projects. In evaluating the projects, the commission should develop its own yardstick for measuring whether targets and indicators outlined to actualise (a) particular goal(s) are achieved or not. This will help to checkmate the griming reality of weak state institutions, corruption and mismanagement that undermined the performance of the MDGs especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Finally, a fundamental re-examination of global development financing from aid dependent relationship (over-reliance on ODA as enshrined in the MDGs) to available domestic fiscal affordability is needed. This will help to create independent financial pathways for LDCs to achieve the development goals at their own pace and level of development. Rather than relying on donor’s agencies and international institutions in implementing all development goals and targets, the financial gap between country’s fiscal capabilities and national priorities has to be plugged through debt relief, ODA and financial aid from international institutions.

Conclusively, the ideas and practices of global sustainable development that would come after 2015 should be developed in relation to the complexities of development issues in the LDCs and not on abstract agendas and strategies that are constituted in a universalistic frame. This will incorporate the perspectives of the North and the Global South in the participatory process of drawing up a new agenda that will reflect a win-win situation where strategic ‘’engagement of local mobilization with global discourses, and of local discourses with the global structure of power’’ as Cooper (1997: 85) brilliantly captured, are entrenched.
* A. Bayo Ogunrotifa teaches at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

REFERENCES

1. Amin, S. (2006): “The Millennium Development Goals: A Critique from the South.” Monthly Review, March 2006, accessed January 6, 2015,http://monthlyreview.org/2006/03/01/the-millennium-development-goals-a-critique-from-the-south
2. Clemens, M. & Moss, T. (2005): What’s Wrong with the Millennium Development Goals? CGD Working Paper. Accessible at http://tinyurl.com/orrpjgk
3. Clemens, M.A., Kenny, C.J & Moss, T.J. (2007): ‘The Trouble with the MDGs: Confronting Expectations of Aid and Development Success’.World Development, 35 (5): 735–751,
4. Cooper, F. (1997): Modernizing Bureaucrats, Backwards Africans, and the Development Concept in Cooper, F. & Packard, R. (eds) International development and the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press.
5. Escobar, A. (1991): Anthropology and the Development Encounter.The Making and Marketing of Development Anthropology. American Ethnologist, Vol. 18 (4): 658-682.
6. Fukuda-Parr, S. & Greenstein, J. (2010): How should MDG implementation be measured: faster progress or meeting targets? Centre for inclusive growth working paper 63. Accessible at http://tinyurl.com/ortwhn6
7. Gane, N. (2012) ‘Measure, value and the current crisis of sociology’. The Sociological Review, 59(S2) 151-173.
8. Hulme, D. (2009): The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): a short history of the world’s biggest promise, BWPI Working Paper 100, 2009
9. Hulme, D. (2010): Lessons from the making of the MDGs: human development meets results-based management in an unfair world, IDS Bulletin 41(1), 15-25
10. Manning, R. (2009): Using indicators to encourage development: lessons from the Millennium Development Goals, DIIS Report
11. Mills, C.W. (1959): The Sociological Imagination. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
12. Mishra, U. (2004): Millennium development goals: whose goals and for whom? BMJ. Sep 25, 2004; 329(7468): 742
13. Ogunrotifa A.B. (2012): ‘Millennium Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa: A critical assessment’. Radix International Journal of Research in Social Science, 1(10): 1-22
14. Ojogwu, C.N (2009): The challenges of Attaining Millennium Development Goals In Education in Africa, College Student Journal.
15. Oya, C. (2011): Africa and the millennium development goals (MDGs): What’s right, what’s wrong and what’s missing. Revista De Economia Mundial, 27, 19–33. Retrieved from http://www.semwes.or
16. Rippin, N. (2013): Progress, Prospects and Lessons from the MDGs. Background research paper submitted to High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Accessible at www.post2015hlp.org/…/Rippin_Progress-Prospects-and-Lessons-from-t..
17. Sachs, J. D. (2012): From millennium development goals to sustainable development goals.Lancet, 379, 2206–2211.
18. Sahn, D.E and Stifel, D.C. (2003): Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. World Development, 31 (1): 23-52.
19. Sumner, A., Lawo, T. (2010): The MDGs and beyond: pro-poor policy in a changing world, EADI Policy Paper
20. UNDP (2003): Indicators for monitoring the MDGs. Accessible atwww.undp.org/content/dam/aplawas/publications

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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Historical and Contemporary Relations between Europe and the Oromo March 26, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Development Studies, Oromo Studies.
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Oromo Studies Association’s (OSA’s) Midyear 2015 Conference in Munich, Germany (March 28-29)

The theme of the Conference: “Historical and Contemporary Relations between Europe and the Oromo.

 

Oromo Studies Association Midyear Conference in Munich, Germany, 2015

For more details of the program click at:

OSA Midyear Conference, March 2015

Food Insecurity: Biofuels Are Not a Green Alternative to Fossil Fuels February 10, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in African Poor, Agriculture, Alternative Energy, Biofuels, Development Studies, Energy Economics.
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OBiofuela are not green

     

 

Biofuels Are Not a Green Alternative to Fossil Fuels

by Andrew Streer* and Craig Hanson**

Powering cars with corn and burning wood to make electricity might seem like a way to lessen dependence on fossil fuels and help solve the climate crisis. But although some forms of bioenergy can play a helpful role, dedicating land specifically for generating bioenergy is unwise. It uses land needed for food production and carbon storage, it requires large areas to generate just a small amount of fuel, and it won’t typically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

First, dedicating areas to bioenergy production increases competition for land.

Roughly three-quarters of the world’s vegetated land is already being used to meet people’s need for food and forest products, and that demand is expected to rise by 70 percent or more by 2050. Much of the rest contains natural ecosystems that keep climate-warming carbon out of the atmosphere, protect freshwater supplies, and preserve biodiversity.

Because land and the plants growing on it are already generating these benefits, diverting land—even degraded, under-utilised areas—to bioenergy means sacrificing much-needed food, timber, and carbon storage.

Second, bioenergy production is an inefficient use of land.

While photosynthesis may do a great job of converting the sun’s rays into food, it is an inefficient way to turn solar radiation into non-food energy that people can use. Thus, it takes a lot of land (and water) to yield a small amount of fuel from plants. In a new working paper, WRI calculates that providing just 10 percent of the world’s liquid transportation fuel in the year 2050 would require nearly 30 percent of all the energy in a year’s worth of crops the world produces today.

The push for bioenergy extends beyond transportation fuels to the harvest of trees and other sources of biomass for electricity and heat generation. Some research suggests that bioenergy could meet 20 percent of the world’s total annual energy demand by 2050. Yet doing so would require an amount of plants equal to all the world’s current crop harvests, plant residues, timber, and grass consumed by livestock–a true non-starter.

Third, bioenergy that makes dedicated use of land does not generally cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Burning biomass, whether directly as wood or in the form of ethanol or biodiesel, emits carbon dioxide just like burning fossil fuels. In fact, burning biomass directly emits a bit more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels for the same amount of generated energy. But most calculations claiming that bioenergy reduces greenhouse gas emissions relative to burning fossil fuels do not include the carbon dioxide released when biomass is burned. They exclude it based on the assumption that this release of carbon dioxide is matched and implicitly offset by the carbon dioxide absorbed by the plants growing the biomass.

Yet if those plants were going to grow anyway, simply diverting them to bioenergy does not remove any additional carbon from the atmosphere and therefore does not offset the emissions from burning that biomass. Furthermore, when natural forests are felled to generate bioenergy or to replace the farm fields that were diverted to growing biofuels, greenhouse gas emissions go up.

That said, some forms of bioenergy do not increase competition with food or land, and using them instead of fossil fuels could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One example is biomass grown in excess of what would have grown without the demand for bioenergy, such as winter cover crops for energy. Others include timber processing wastes, urban waste wood, landfill methane, and modest amounts of agriculture residues.

Using so-called second-generation technologies to convert material such as crop residues into bioenergy has a role to play and avoids competition for land. A challenge will be to do this at scale, since most of these residues are already used for animal feed or needed for soil fertility, and others are expensive to harvest.

There are good alternatives to bioenergy made from dedicated land. For example, solar photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sunlight directly into energy that people can use, much like bioenergy, but with greater efficiency and less water use. On three-quarters of the world’s land, solar PV systems today can generate more than 100 times the usable energy per hectare as bioenergy. Because electric motors can be two to three times more efficient than internal combustion engines, solar PV can result in 200 to 300 times as much usable energy per hectare for vehicle transport compared to bioenergy.

One of the great challenges of our generation is how the world can sustainably feed a population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Using crops or land for biofuels competes with food production, making this goal even more difficult.

The world’s land is a finite resource. As Earth becomes more crowded, fertile land and the plants it supports become ever more valuable for food, timber and carbon storage—things for which we don’t have an alternative source.

*Dr Steer is president of the WRI. **Hanson is the WRI’s global director of food, forest and water programmes

 

This blog post was originally published in The Guardian on January 29, 2015.

Source:

http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/01/biofuels-are-not-green-alternative-fossil-fuels?utm_medium=wri-page&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=socialmedia

Read related at:

http://biofuel.org.uk/threat-to-food-supply.html

 

Related:

WRI’s Searchinger says land and crops should not be used for bioenergy production, biofuels not curbing climate change.

http://www.eenews.net/tv/2015/02/10

http://www.eenews.net/tv/videos/1937/transcript