voxsouley

Warriors don’t get days off

In Governance, International Development, Niger, Public Health, Sustainable Development on March 23, 2007 at 5:27 pm

That title is an homage to a friend of mine… but I think it encapsulates how we should look at famine and hunger. I just read this UNICEF press release about the current situation in Niger. According to their report – global acute malnutrition in under-3yr old kids in Niger is down, but it’s only down from around 15% to 10% on average. The article definitely strikes the right tone – there is still a ton of work to be done and we can’t allow positive statistics to slow down the aid and intervention.

Celebrating a drop in malnutrition where there are still hundreds of thousands of “wasting” babies and toddlers is like celebrating that you only failed with a 50% rather than a 25%. You’re still failing and there is enormous room for improvement.

One thing I wish was highlighted more was the idea of more system-wide interventions to improve the quality of life in Niger. The aid organizations will rush in when people are dying, but that just reinforces aid dependence. Nigeriens always expect someone to drop in when things get bad; I found when I was there that this caused complacency, to say the least. Why should the village contribute their own funds to build their local water-pump when some projet will give it to them for free?

I suppose I’m talking about two things – aid dependency and advocating for a better political economic system. The latter would greatly improve the conditions of Niger to where households are better able to weather droughts and freakish locust invasions. I’m talking about solid institutions, better governance, schools, infrastructure, etc. Put those in place, not just so Doctors Without Borders or UNICEF can get around easily when the going gets tough, but so Niger has more to offer the global community than an outstretched hand.

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