So this is how long-term, institutional aid works. The Ethiopian government types up a pretty little document with a glossy cover page (starring scrawny cattle walking through arid desert plains – even the cows are hungry, apparently), a nice contents list and lots of well-organised tables. The writing is tight and to the point; no melodrama, no sob stories, just cold hard facts which tell an ever-sorrier story. This many people admitted to hospital for this disease, this many for that disease; this crop failed here, that crop failed there; this many people suffering here, and of that this many suffering thanks to avoidable “resource shortfalls”, which is development-speak for “we need more cash”.
Just how much is made unmistakeably clear with the clever use of bold type face. “The total net emergency food and non-food requirements for the period July to December 2011 amounts to USD 398,439,730,” the report reads. If you’re struggling to read that long line of numbers, that’s $400 million, or R2.4 billion. It’s not made as obvious where the money is supposed to come from, but the implication is clear: the humanitarian bodies which operate in the country must stump up the funds, and probably will.
Although unsettling, matter-of-fact forward planning like this is the reality of the aid industry, and it’s a big improvement on the reactive system which was used for so long. Money spent in anticipation of problems is spent much more efficiently than if it’s spent after the problem has happened.
Case in point: Somalia, where a little bit of foresight would have gone a long way to alleviating the famine and making it much cheaper to address. Ethiopia, on the other hand, avoided a famine this time, despite enduring the same drought, and it’s thanks to the precautions and plans – like this one – which the government and humanitarian agencies put together. iM
In other news...
The South African economy is choking harder than the Proteas. Although to be choking you have to actually be eating and the Proteas seem to be on some sort of juice cleanse-like fast…*
Back to the economy: In the first quarter the GDP dive-bombed by a whopping 3.2%. The sense of futility can paralyse us into inaction and moaning. But it’s times like these that call for effort and action, no matter how small. Yes, South Africa is hurting. Yes the ravaged economy is evident everywhere you look. But you can make a difference, in your own personal way and by supporting independent media like Daily Maverick. We’ve pledged to continue the fight through producing incisive and impactful investigations and analysis, the same way we have done every day for the last decade.
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*Proteas, you know we love you. We’d just love you more if you won occasionally...
"But still it moves, just the same" ~ Galileo Galilei (after forcibly having recanted his statement on earth revolving around the sun)