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This is a question My Biggest Disappointment

Often the things we look forward to the most turn out to be a huge let down. As Freddy Woo puts it, "High heels in bed? No fun at all. Porn has a lot to answer for."

Well, Freddy, you are supposed to get someone else to wear them.

What's disappointed you lot?
null points for 'This QOTW'

(, Thu 26 Jun 2008, 14:15)
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Shegetz has reminded me... (WARNING - THIS IS FUCKING LONG)
I started my course in international development full of optimism for saving millions of lives at the head of my own NGO or something. Unfortunately, I must say that so far I am very disappointed with my hopefully-to-be-one-day MA. Not because of the uni, but because of what I learn through it.

So now at the age of 20 I've turned into a cynical cunt already. It's a depressing course, because you can see that the vast majority of foreign aid is utterly, and I mean utterly, useless and sometimes aggravates things. This ranges from governments to charities through to NGOs. There are so many vital things that don't get taken into account and often of course these orgs have their own, not necessarily well hidden at all, agenda. That needs to be achieved at any cost. A good one would be food aid. What an incredible crock of shit: I'll take USAid because it's the easiest to lambast, so here goes:

The Org has sources all over the world (especially Africa of course) who predict where there is going to be a food crisis, so that they can get their shipments ready. A good example would be a province in Zambia a couple of years ago where severe draught killed off nearly all crops. The media blows the whole thing out of proportion and says that EVERYONE IN ZAMBIA IS GOING TO STARVE TO DEATH IF WE DONT DO SOMETHING NOW!!!! à la Bob "the know-it-all" Geldoff. Tons and tons of surplus mais and corn get sent to Africa, where it is sent to the region. Woohoo everybody lives.

The problems with this are these:

1) Zambia could have handled the crisis using the other 8 provinces it had. There was enough food to go round. They didnt need or want lots of food to be sent to them.

2) The HUGE amounts of food dump the prices. Simple economics here: not enough demand, the prices fall. The farmers there can't sell anything, because although the USAid bags say "strictly not for sale", no one really aderes to that - walk into any market in africa and you'll see Uncle Sam's rice. No kidding, his face is on it (sometimes). The salesman got it for free, why should he buy it?

3) It makes the US look like such a kind country, when all they're doing is buying off the surplus crops, allowing their stupidly massive amount of farms to survive. They'd get in trouble with everyone if they burned it, so they give it away.

4) Interestingly, the food aid industry in the states is massive. Everything is produced in the USA: from the cooking oil barrels to the food bags. Trucks need to be bought, drivers for these trucks, an entire port who's name escapes me (hey I didn't sleep last night!) survives on just sending out food. This has become such an powerful force that it regularly lobbies for more food aid. Not for the starving though...

5) The receiving country is forced to take whatever they get. I'm unsure about GM crops, but that time Zambia gave the excuse that they couldnt possibly accept the food because it was GM. I think it was just a ploy not to get flooded with unneeded corn mais and rice though. Although that's just my opinion.

6) In the long term, it cripples the receiver's economy. USAid carries on sending food for years, when the crisis could finally be over. Why should the farmer farm if he's getting food anyway?

Don't get me wrong, food aid is useful as a short term option but now it's frankly just ridiculous. There is no need for these cargo ships laden with useless food going back and forth between the states and "starving" countries. Really, they only need to make the journey as few times as possible.

This is where I have respect for the EU, because they finally realised that they weren't helping this way. Instead they send -very tightly controlled in comparison to the way money is usually thrown again- cash, with which a country can buy crops from a neighbour. Three advantages:

1) He gets it quicker - it's fresher!
2) It's doubtful that they would cripple their own economy on purpose this way.
3) They're strengthening the region.

Basically, that's what I'm disappointed about: opening new markets or diplomatic pandering thinly veiled as an act of charity. Let them sort it out themselves, advise them but don't force them. They'll come to you if they need help...

There are countless other examples: genital mutilation banned in one area, unfortunately now the girls cant find husbands anywhere, because that's the way they know it in other villages where there wasn't a campaign. Of course genital mutilation on girls is a horrifying practice, but if you start a project like this you need to look at the bigger picture. Organisations you pay too much money to for them to give you a placement somewhere to teach little african kids. Face it mate: you really are probably making no difference at all. I should know, I made that mistake in my gap year. I'll never do something like this again. I paid 3 grand for three months (standard price!) and found out that my host family was getting 40 quid a week. That takes the piss really. With all the other "volunteers" money, they managed to raise the cash for a fucking plastic tank for the school to collect water in. They cost 200 quid. A fucking joke in my opinion. Oh and a couple of books and pencils.

So there you go: all the optimism has dissipated, I'm very disappointed with the world and if that cunt in the front row keeps asking inane questions I'll stab the shit out of him with my pen. And now the chinese are throwing cash around like a euromillion winner, ignoring inside politics. Which doesn't help.

Getting tired now, so I'll just say one more thing:

There must be a way to make the world a better place, but I think that'll be for when aliens come or when we stop - as developed nations - exploiting other countries' resources and then have a go at them for being shit at developing in the space of two months. Because most of all, these things are going to take years.

Length? When I have an itchy bellend I need to reach down to my ankles.
(, Mon 30 Jun 2008, 9:30, Reply)

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