|Overcoming Global Hunger (WB)|
|Session five - the political economy of hunger|
A number of participants commented from the floor; then the speaker responded
First Boor participant: I would like to put in an appeal. Tribalism in Africa is very destructive. The present government in Ethiopia has introduced tribalism in a big; way. I think perhaps the Carter Institute should look into it very carefully and find out what its impact is going to be. Putting pressure on people to build up political parties along tribal lines in a society that has been nationalist for about 1,000 years or more is not going to help the development process. The signs already suggest that conflict is likely, and that Ethiopia may go the way of Somalia.
Jimmy Carter In our own Programs in Africa and elsewhere, like the World Bank, we try to deal with the needs of the people in the country regardless of the character of the government, or even of how popular the government might be, because quite often, under the worst of dictatorships or in the midst of a horrible war, as has been the case for the last eight years in Sudan, the people tend to suffer more than in a stable government that has an attractive leadership.
This is one reason we went into Sudan in the middle of the war to increase the production of sorghum and wheat. I hope that in the case of Ethiopia, whether you agree with the government's policies or not, this might be a situation where a comprehensive approach to alleviating hunger and malnutrition might be tried.
Another thing is that we generally go into those countries that are most in need, the ones that are suffering more. We have programs, for instance, to eradicate guinea worm. Obviously we do not need to go to countries that do not have guinea worm. We have never had a program in Botswana, by the way, because Botswana does not need help. Botswana, because of its inspired leadership, is able to help others.
So regardless of the political environment, we do try to go in and give assistance
Second floor participant Some of the concerns expressed during the last two days revolve around the issue of popular participation in the creation of macroeconomic policies, and you alluded to the North American Free Trade Agreement debate here in the United States. Many people feel like me that the popular will and expression of the people was not reflected by Congress' passage of agreement.
We find this happens often with the partners that we work with in the South. No matter what people do to express their will about the misuse of macroeconomic policies, about foreign intervention in economic policies, no matter what they do to try and speak up to protect their livelihoods and their lives, they are not listened to I would like to ask you all how you will help create an economic system that is responsive to the needs of the poor.
Jimmy Carter I am not qualified to answer that question, except to say that there is no clear delineation between microeconomic macroeconomic approaches to hunger As former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill said, all politics is local.
The macroeconomic policies that are troublesome in a country almost invariably relate to the individual family and to the village, so what we do is have our scientists work directly with the extension workers and the farmers, and they report directly to me and to Dr. Borlaug, independently of the government, because quite often the government's policies are totally contrary to those of the village or of individual farm families.
But to answer your question, how to put together a combined microeconomic and macroeconomic policy in the entire world to eradicate hunger is a very challenging issue, which I am not qualified to answer.
Third floor participant: There has been a lot of talk about participation in the solutions for overcoming global hunger, and I would like to encourage everyone to continue encouraging dialogue among many groups, including talking with young people, students, and women all over the world. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to the Student International Conference to be held next June. The theme is science and technology for the twenty-first century to meet the needs of the global community.
Fourth floor participant I would like to speak about a rather taboo subject and encourage you to speak out on it, and that is female circumcision, which is being done to 8 million little girls across Africa All of us in this room, men and women, can help stop this maiming of women across Africa that causes unbelievable pain in childbirth and human degradation.
Jimmy Carter In one of the addresses at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna last spring I emphasized this topic of female circumcision I hope it is something that does concern everyone here.
Fifth floor participant I understand that there is, on average, 0 6 acres of land per person. Yet the industrial countries have 1.1 acres per person for consumption, and this could be explained by their meat-intensive diets. I wonder whether development will increase a transition to a Western diet and what that means for global food security.
Jimmy Carter When I was president, I had a presidential task force on hunger, and one of the main issues addressed at that time was the extreme waste of energy used to transfer grain through an animal into food for human beings It costs about seven times as much for a given level of nutrition if you feed a sheep or a goat or a cow and then eat the animal.
This change you mention has happened in some countries, and the one with which I am most familiar is Egypt. Egypt used to be self-sufficient in grain production when it concentrated on grain A few years back I went up the Nile River, and alongside the Nile few people were growing grain for human consumption. They were growing grass to feed goats to eat or to sell. They were taking U.S. program 480 wheat and making bread out of it, and sometimes they were making bread to comply with the law, but were feeding the bread to their goats so they could eat the goat meat Not only is eating red meat not good for the health, but it is a tremendous waste of an arable acre of land or the productivity of a farmer, no matter what size the landholding This is a good point.