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  • Title: Aceh Abandoned: The Second Tsunami | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Aceh Abandoned: The Second Tsunami.. Tuesday, February 1, 2005.. TAKE ACTION NOW:.. An Action Alert from East Timor Action Network.. Report and Photos by Andre Vltchek.. ACEH:.. There is no “Ground Zero” in Banda Aceh – no single point which can be defined as the epicenter of disaster.. A tremendous wave leveled entire neighborhoods to the ground.. Closer to the coast, what remains of the city has a striking resemblance to the old black and white photographs of Hiroshima after the devastating nuclear explosion.. Hundreds of mass-graves have not been covered.. Familes Looking for The Disappeared.. People are cautiously returning, searching for bodies.. In the neighborhood of Puekan Bada, smell of decomposing flesh is unbearable.. Bodies are everywhere, buried under the rubble and dead trees, or simply floating in the stale water.. After one month in the water, bodies are unrecognizable.. Flesh is almost gone; hardened skin is tightly attached to the skeleton.. Bodies – some in yellow and blue plastic bags, others exposed to the sun – are resting on the bottom of deep pits.. Heavy equipment: bulldozers, excavators, and trucks are idly parked just a few meters away.. There seems to be no lack of machinery or fuel, but almost no organized effort to put it to use.. Jamaludin, a forty year old man, is searching through the rubble, machete in his hand.. He lost almost all members of his family.. Now he sleeps in one of the refugee camps at night.. “TNI (military) set up several camps in the area, but they abandoned us few days later.. Government sometimes delivers water, but it is not clean.. Several people that I know have stomach infections; severe diarrhea.. ”.. He guides me through the rubble to the body bags.. “We don’t know what to do with them.. We have no shovels ourselves, but according to the Muslim tradition, bodies have to be buried.. Some gangs visit this area at night, burning the bodies with petrol.. That’s absolutely wrong, but there is nothing we can do – it’s unsafe and horrifying to stay in this area at night!”.. Government has declared that victims will not be allowed to rebuild their houses 2-3 kilometers from the coast.. Those who survived tsunami are supposed to be relocated (“for safety reasons”), but no concrete plans have yet been presented.. Local people believe that the government and big businesses are planning “land-grab” in potentially lucrative areas close to the coast.. A Mass Grave.. Mr.. Syamsuddin, one of the former inhabitants of Lamteungoh village sums up the frustration of the local people: “Government tells us that we cannot return to our homes if they are closer than 2 kilometers from the coast.. We all know that this is the best land.. But the government and the businesses don’t want to pay anything.. They are just promising to relocate us.. Once we are gone, they can develop this area into an industrial zone or build hotels, golf-courses, anything… For them this is a great opportunity to make money; they are taking advantage of this disaster and our suffering.. This is still our land! If they will compensate us fairly, we will accept.. If not, we will stay and fight!”.. According to Mr.. Syafruddin – coordinator of CARE ACEH, a local humanitarian NGO - government is not planning to give any compensation to the victims of tsunami.. “They (the government) say that the refugees will be relocated; their houses rebuilt somewhere else, but no location has been designated so far, and there is no exact budget.. Given the government’s track-record, we are afraid that most of the funds will disappear.. Care Aceh is advocating for the rebuilding of houses at their original location.. ”.. INADEQUATE RESPONSE.. There is hardly any doubt that the government in Jakarta failed to respond promptly and adequately to the natural disaster which can only be described as one of the most devastating in human history.. "We Will be Back," Reads a Graffiti on the Foundation of a House.. Hours after the giant tidal wave killed more than 200,000 people, the government of Indonesia made no coordinated effort to launch a massive rescue and relief operation.. Only six transport C-130 airplanes were mobilized and even these were not ordered to take off immediately (Banda Aceh airport was damaged, but not the one in Medan, from where the aid could have been transported by land).. Instead of declaring a national state of emergency and mobilizing private airliners and ships for relief operation in Aceh, the government advised the citizens to pray for the victims.. Jusuf Kalla, Vice-President and newly elected head of Golkar Party (the same political force which ruled the country during Suharto’s dictatorship) decided to use precious space in C-130 planes to fly “volunteers” – his supporters from several religious movements like MMI/Majelis and FPI – for his own political goals.. Maulana Ibrahim, youth leader from Aceh assessed the work of these volunteers: “We saw hundreds of volunteers coming to Aceh just days after the disaster.. They arrived from Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and even Pontianak.. Almost all of them were amateurs, unable to work in extreme conditions.. They themselves were depressed and horrified, unable to lift spirits of local victims.. Some doctors couldn’t handle these conditions and abandoned their post after two days.. Government gave them no maps; they did not know where to go, did not know names of the districts… Logistically, their presence was a total disaster.. Asraw, coordinator of PCC (People’s Crises Center – arguably the most active humanitarian NGO in Aceh) described volunteers from Jakarta as: “people who complicated the situation even further.. They were taking photographs of dead bodies, looking like tourists.. Some volunteers were just government spies, although after the Martial Law, one would wonder why the government needed more of them… My conclusion: most of the volunteers did close to nothing.. “It’s not only that government forces did almost nothing”, continues Mr.. Asraw.. “in many cases they were preventing aid from reaching the refugees.. We know about corruption cases, like the one in PEMDA, district of Dewantara in North Aceh, where local government, instead of giving urgently needed aid to refugees, passed it to the local military commander.. Even here in Banda Aceh, military was selling aid supplies through warungs (local shops).. PCC office had been visited by the military on several occasions – they were demanding food and water.. They were very rude.. Once, our worker asked them to fill out the papers – normal procedure.. Soldiers got angry and began kicking and destroying huge, and then so precious bottles of water.. Almost all relief agencies working in the field agree that approximately 70% of the aid came from abroad.. Locals are scared of the moment when international community will decide to pull out of Aceh.. There is graffiti all over the province, asking in English: “Please help us!”.. From the very start, the Indonesian government didn’t try to hide the fact that helping Aceh was not on top of its agenda.. Just a few days after the disaster, Minister of Finance declared that nation’s economic growth would not be seriously affected, because Aceh is at the outskirt of Indonesia.. He also noted that reconstruction efforts would be financed mainly from abroad.. All those who suffered were mostly poor Acehnese.. Natural gas and oil production (controlled mainly by multi-national companies) detected almost no disruption.. “It’s remarkable”, commented Deddy Afidick - executive of EXXON/MOBILE, seated in his luxury villa – far away from disaster area - in Banda Aceh.. “Our oil-fields suffered no damage.. We can speak about zero damage! And the same goes for our friends at LNG – no destruction at all!”.. “FIRST TSUNAMI” REVISITED.. Away from the coastal areas of Aceh, there is no destruction.. Road passes through pristine countryside.. Green fields, sleepy villages and high mountains in the distance.. All this looks like a stereotypical image of earthly paradise taken straight from some tourist brochure.. The only disturbance comes from armored police and military trucks, driven at head breaking speed, premeditatedly pushing all other vehicles off the road.. But behind the facade of this pristine beauty, there are military and police check-points in every village.. And in almost every house – misery and often hunger.. On the advice of one of the local NGOs, I drive to the area of Desa Siron; to the old village of Keureung Krung.. All houses are traditional, made of wood.. Entire village runs towards the car – to welcome me.. I ask about the refugees.. There are several families who managed to escape from the devastated areas on the coast.. Children in Desa Keureung Krung.. “These children lost their families.. Their relatives were swept away by the sea,” explains an old woman with a wrinkled and exhausted face.. “We received no aid from the government.. There is nothing we can do; we went to Lambaro and talked to the government officials.. They gave us nothing; they sent no people here.. We were trying to talk to the District leaders, but he refused to see us.. Nobody cares, especially the government.. We need food, we need medicine; we need some help for children who experienced terrible trauma.. We are so angry! People in this village are feeding us.. They are the only ones willing to help, but they have almost nothing themselves!”.. After some hesitation, a group of elders decides to approach me.. They need to speak to me, they say.. We enter a small, humble mosque and seat ourselves on the floor in a circle.. “You are the first journalist who ever came here”, says the village chief.. “Nobody ever visits this place; we are cut-off from the world.. Military comes here several times a week, always at night.. They torture us and they beat us; we feel humiliated and desperate.. Military asks the same question: “Where is GAM (Free Aceh Movement)?” They give us no time to answer; they begin beating us, putting our head under the water until we can’t breath.. They even beat women.. We heard that military was supposed to help the Acehnese after tsunami.. But they do the same things to us now as they did before.. “They usually arrive at 3AM; four or six of them, riding Honda motorbikes.. They are from “Pasukan Raider” (“Raider Troops”), but they have no name tags.. All we know is that their  ...   ones available pay meager salaries – too low to save anything in order to start a new life.. Full days work of cleaning rubble in the city center pays only 30.. 000Rp – around $3.. 25.. Tens of thousands of small family businesses have been lost, fishing boats destroyed.. The government doesn’t seem to have any sound plan for revitalization of the devastated area, although officially it has already moved to the “reconstruction stage.. ” The United Nations now estimates that some 800,000 people in Aceh will have to be fed for a prolonged period of time – maybe for as long as two years.. Prices for basic food have gone up and so have the rents.. Landlords are eager to get rid of some long-term local residents, since they can charge foreign workers a higher rent.. There are alarming reports of forced adoptions.. According to Care Aceh, there are 1,130 documented cases of Acehnese children being taken to Medan, capital of Sumatra.. “The government has done nothing to stop the trafficking in children.. It denies that it is happening and then blocks the investigation.. Agency in charge is Aceh Sepakat, backed by the government.. ” Some links lead to PKS – a religious party with strong links to the government.. According to an eyewitness’ testimony, PKS members refused to return a child to a father who recognized (and was immediately recognized by him) his own child, demanding legal documents, which in many cases disappeared during the disaster.. Even at the refugee camp run by the PKS party, the situation is desperate.. A member of PKS itself, Mr.. Hambani – chief of six Syiah Kuala villages – is obviously frustrated: “You know, I don’t even know where their main office is! And I am their member.. They gave us almost nothing – some meager load of instant noodles – but when they delivered it, they insisted that we raise their flag over the camp.. All they care about is publicity! We got no help from them for 23 days.. PKS doesn’t obviously care about us, although 80% of our community voted for them in the last elections.. INTERNATIONAL HELP.. There is no doubt that without the rapid arrival of international help, tens of thousands more Acehnese would have died by now from hunger and disease.. As the Indonesian military personnel and police aimlessly hang around the city, military helicopters from dozens of countries are flying to distant and desperate locations of the province, delivering aid, medicine and tents.. Devastation Caused by Tsunami.. Help from the international community is greatly appreciated by the Acehnese people, but makes many officials in Jakarta uneasy.. It highlights the inability of the Indonesian authorities to deal with the disaster and allows closer scrutiny of the state and military actions against the civilians and separatists.. For a long time, Aceh was off-limits to foreigners.. Almost no foreign journalists were allowed in - the official reason being "for their own safety and protection.. " Now people who have been suffering for years under the military occupation and economic neglect can voice their grievances.. At the same time, Indonesia is counting on international aid to rebuild Aceh.. Billions of dollars will be needed for this gigantic undertaking.. The question is, how much will get to the victims and how much will go to pay for the latest models of BMWs and luxury villas of corrupt government officials and their business associates from the private sector?.. It is no secret that Indonesia is one the most corrupt nations on earth.. Graft is institutionalized and touches every sector of society.. Distribution of aid is no exception.. Foreign loans can be counter-productive as well.. Indonesian international debt as of December 2004 was $78.. 25 million (with debt service ratio of about 30%).. Majority of these loans came to Indonesia during the right-wing dictatorship of Suharto.. Most of the money never made it to the intended infrastructure, medical facilities and education projects, while the poor and the middle-class (the only ones who are paying taxes anyway) were left with the enormous bill.. Rich countries like the United States and the international financial institutions were well aware of the situation, but continued to suggest new loans.. By indebting the nation, they were gaining control over the country and its resources.. Aceh deserves massive foreign aid, but it has to be aid which goes directly to the victims, helping them rebuild their homes and lives, and creates work opportunities.. It should not be funneled through the government agencies.. Every dollar should be accounted for.. If this cannot be achieved, any aid might turn counter-productive!.. MILITARY AID AS AID?.. After a 13-year break, the U.. S.. is trying to improve relations with the Indonesian military.. Seizing the opportunity that came with tsunami, it is letting go of its concern around Indonesia’s human rights record that led the U.. Congress to curb military ties in 1992 and cut off Indonesia's eligibility for International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program and to buy certain kinds of lethal military equipment.. After the Indonesian army and its militias rampaged through East Timor in September 1999, killing hundreds of people and destroying much of the territory after the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Jakarta, the Clinton administration was forced to cut off all ties.. But the Bush administration has long been eager to normalize military ties with Indonesia.. All because Indonesia is seen as a potentially crucial player in the “War on Terrorism,” as its army’s main concern appears to be to crush the fighters of the Free Aceh Movement.. Since 9/11, the administration has gradually renewed ties by providing aid through new anti-terrorism accounts, resuming joint military exercises, and inviting Indonesian officers to participate in regional military conferences.. Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, recently suggested strengthening the American training of Indonesian officers, including training them in modern warfare methods, despite continuing reports of abuses committed by the army in Aceh.. Late January, the U.. supplied Indonesia with $1 million worth of spare parts for its aging fleet of C-130 heavy transport planes, that the U.. sold to Indonesia over 20 years ago.. Some say that it is possible that the the ban on the sale of weapons to Indonesia might be removed soon.. Human Rights groups warn that the renewed military aid will be, as in the past, used to suppress independence movements in Papua, Aceh and other hot spots all over the archipelago, and to crush internal opposition and dissent.. The past relationship between the Indonesian government and the United States cannot be ignored.. In 1965, the U.. supported and participated in a military coup which toppled the democratically elected government of Sukarno and imposed the extreme right-wing dictatorship of General Suharto.. Up to 3 million people were slaughtered and Indonesia embarked on the free market experiment which resulted in the social and economic collapse of the fourth most populous nation on earth.. While the Clinton administration was forced to break relations with the Indonesian military under immense public pressure, initially United States and other rich nations (including UK and Australia) supported the occupation of East Timor which led to a genocide in which one third of the population vanished.. The FUTURE OF ACEH.. Devastated by the military conflict and tsunami, present day Aceh may be one of the most desperate places on earth.. One of the greatest fears of the local people is that after the departure of foreign relief agencies and journalists, it will be hermetically sealed again, left to the mercy of the Indonesian military and government officials in Jakarta.. There is an acute need for permanent international presence which could monitor human rights abuses and reconstruction efforts.. Land-grab of the coastal areas by the government should be prevented and the local people – victims of tsunami – should be given the choice whether to rebuild their homes on the present location or to accept relocation.. Human rights agencies should immediately begin a thorough investigation of human rights abuses in the rural areas of the province.. There should be decisive support for the referendum on independence.. If Jakarta wants to keep Aceh as part of Indonesia, it should offer concessions and perks, instead of keeping the province by force.. And at the end, Acehnese people should be the ones to decide about their future.. Aceh is rich in natural resources.. Suharto and his government signed several deals with multi-national companies.. For him, these deals brought substantial bribes, but people of Aceh gained almost nothing.. If the Acehnese vote for independence, contracts would have to be re-negotiated.. This may be one of the main reasons why so far no major foreign power has expressed support for referendum which would, if held now, almost certainly would lead to full independence for Aceh.. If independent, it is still uncertain what path Aceh would choose.. What is certain is that Aceh is injured.. It is bleeding, destroyed, confused and tormented by tremendous losses, by uncertainty, and by fear.. It is hard to decide where to start solving the complex web of its problems.. But the international community needs to intervene now!.. For More Information on tsunami disaster, click here.. *Andre Vltchek, a Senior Fellow at the Oakland Institute, has covered armed conflicts in Peru, Mexico, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, East Timor, Indonesia, Turkey and the Middle East, for Der Spiegel, Asahi Shimbun, ABC News, Lidove Noviny, and many others.. A political analyst, journalist, and a filmmaker, Andre, has written several politically charged books (both fiction and non-fiction), such as.. Western Terror: From Potosi to Baghdad.. (2004),.. Exile.. (2004, with Pramoedya Ananta Toer and Rossie Indira) and.. Point of No Return.. (2005).. He recently produced a 90-minute documentary film, Terlena – Breaking of a Nation, on the U.. -supported dictatorship of Suharto.. He is currently working with Noam Chomsky on a book about the U.. involvement in the 1965 military coup in Indonesia.. Andre lives in Indonesia and the South Pacific and can be reached at.. andre-wcn@usa.. net.. (C) 2005 By The Oakland Institute.. All Rights Reserved.. Please Obtain Permission to Copy.. Contact.. the oakland institute.. P.. O.. Box 18978.. Oakland, CA 94619.. info@oaklandinstitute.. org.. Donate.. Your tax-deductible donation allows us to conduct independent research, analysis, and advocacy to facilitate democratic participation in critical policy decisions that affect our quality of life..

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  • Title: US Food Aid Reformers Seek Place in Farm Bill Debate | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: US Food Aid Reformers Seek Place in Farm Bill Debate.. March 31, 2012.. Source:.. Global Post.. View Original.. Congress seen as unlikely to make major changes to a system that critics say hurts recipients in the long run.. Catherine Cheney.. WASHINGTON, DC — The Farm Bill stands at the center of controversy over whether the current system of US food aid, which it authorizes, harms more than it helps, but the bill remains resistant to reform.. There was hope for change in congressional hearings spanning the months of February and March, but political observers say it has been politics as usual because the bill authorizing billions of dollars in subsidies to American farmers remains protected by agricultural lobbyists.. There is perhaps no more dramatic example of the perverse consequences that these subsidies can have than the ongoing delivery of tons of rice to Haiti.. Here’s how it works.. The American rice shipped from ports in Miami is grown with the help of subsidies to American rice farmers and then donated as aid to Haiti.. But when the rice arrives in the ports of Haiti it is distributed by the metric ton into the marketplace in a way that deeply undercuts the price of Haitian rice and ends up crippling Haitian rice farmers.. Citing damage done in Haiti, some groups are pushing Congress to change the way the US distributes aid in the next iteration of the Farm Bill — due to expire Sept.. 30, as it does every five years — but they face opposition from a powerful lobby of special interests: shipping companies, agribusiness firms and charity organizations.. “Swift US assistance to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake was critical as the US military had the unique capacity to intervene on a large scale after the disaster,” Frédéric Mousseau, Policy Director of the Oakland Institute, told GlobalPost.. “However, US aid to the island soon became problematic when tens of thousands of tons of US food aid were sent to Haiti at the expense of local farmers there.. Many farmers were unable to compete with the flood of free crops, particularly rice grown and processed in the US, and they were forced out of their jobs, further depleting Haiti’s ability to grow its own staples.. But two years later, as the poorest country in the hemisphere transitions from recovering to rebuilding, shipments from the US, the largest provider of international food aid, continue.. Advocates for change are not optimistic that the new Farm Bill, which has been called “the Olympics of US food and agriculture policy” in which “the federal government awards medals in the form of billion-dollar budgets that will determine what foods we eat and how we grow them,” will place more emphasis on the long-term benefits to aid recipients than it does on US interests.. "Food aid doesn't have a strong constituency in terms of change,” said Eric Munoz, a senior policy adviser at the humanitarian organization Oxfam America.. “What it does have are special interests extraordinarily interested in maintaining the status quo.. That status quo has long included the practice of.. dumping crops.. — exporting products such as rice, wheat and corn at below the cost of production — which has devastated farmers in many developing countries.. The practice was in place in Haiti long before the earthquake, a fact that former President Bill Clinton, now the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, laments.. “The United States has followed a policy … that we rich countries that produce a lot of food should sell it to poor countries and relieve them of the burden of producing their own food, so, thank goodness, they can leap directly into the industrial era,”.. he said.. before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee two months after the earthquake hit.. “It has not worked.. It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked.. It was a mistake … I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did.. But even as the former president, who hails from the largest rice-producing state in the country, apologized for pressuring the island nation to dramatically cut tariffs on imports while he was in the White House, the US was producing, packaging and shipping tens of thousands of metric tons of rice to Haiti.. The two cornerstones of the current system of US food aid are:.. In-kind food aid, in which food purchased in and shipped from the US is sold or donated to a recipient country,.. Monetization, in which organizations delivering food aid sell their commodities in order to fund other development programs.. Some.. reformers.. say a  ...   have moved toward more flexible programs that include cash aid, vouchers, and locally and regionally produced sources of food.. European Union donors, for example,.. passed a regulation.. in 1996 that allowed for more flexible use of the food assistance budget and restricted the use of in-kind food aid unless no other alternative existed.. Ten years later, in 2006, 97 percent of the food aid budget was used for locally and regionally procured foods, and since then the EU has maintained consistent levels of targeted emergency food aid while also.. reducing shipping costs.. The World Food Program, the food aid branch of the United Nations, is widely regarded as having the most expertise in determining the most efficient and effective ways to address hunger worldwide.. Its.. International Food Aid Information System.. reveals that in 2010, all WFP food aid to Haiti was “local purchase.. The same was true for France and Ireland, whereas the US purchased 3,564 metric tons locally while shipping 153,067 metric tons of food produced in the US to Haiti.. Over the past decade.. the US has spent an average of $2.. 2 billion annually on international food aid programs, both for emergency needs and development programs.. The largest program is Food for Peace, which typically accounts for anywhere between 50 and 90 percent of the global food aid budget.. It was first signed into law in 1954 in legislation intended to expand US exports, setting a minimum for annual food spending regardless of the needs of other countries.. Another is Food for Progress, introduced in 1985 to donate or sell and then monetize US commodities in order support agricultural development in developing countries.. The 2008 Farm Bill added pilot programs in which the US Department of Agriculture and the US Agency for International Development, the two agencies that administer food aid, would support local and regional procurement with $60 million over four years.. Early reports indicate.. that the pilot programs saw increased effectiveness and decreased delivery time, but Paul Green, an international trade consultant at the North American Millers Association, which produces specialty food grains used for in-kind food aid, said local and regional procurement cannot meet the rising global demand for food.. “Procurement is done in hundreds of thousands of tons, and with these pilot projects, their procurement ability is in truckloads,” he said.. “It’s hard to imagine a thousand sacks compared to several thousand tons is really impacting the overall ability to supply the food aid need.. The 2008 Farm Bill set aside.. $22 million.. annually for the monitoring and assessment of food aid programs, partly in response to criticism that USAID did not have adequate oversight of its programs — a concern validated by GlobalPost reporting on USAID projects in Haiti since the earthquake.. It also provided a “safe box” for funding set aside for development projects, which began at $375 million for fiscal year 2009 and grew to $450 million by fiscal year 2012.. This was a victory for private voluntary organizations such as World Vision that rely on monetization and other forms of non-emergency food aid for their funding, and a defeat for the administration, which expressed concern that a safe box could get in the way of the flexibility needed to respond to emergency food needs.. “World Vision is urging Congress to ensure that $1.. 8 billion is appropriated over the next five years that will preserve what is called the ‘safe box.. ’ The safe box is funding set aside specifically for development food assistance programs, such as the Haiti MYAP [multiyear food assistance program], that address the root issues causing food insecurity,” explained Paul Macek, the organization's senior director of food security and livelihoods.. Now, as in 2008, special interests including the organizations that rely on food aid for their steady stream of funding are making the rounds on Capitol Hill.. This year, the agribusiness lobby may be more fractured than in the past, as commodity groups are likely to focus their attention on direct payment subsidies, working to protect billions of dollars a year in direct payments, which are at risk in the 2012 Farm Bill.. But moving away from a system centered on US crop exports is still a barrier for change, as it would cause some to question why food aid should continue to fall under the Farm Bill at all.. “There is a turf battle between the Agriculture Committee, which wants to keep jurisdiction over this program small as it is, and the committee on foreign affairs, where the rest of our assistance fits,” Munoz explained.. "We need a real rethinking about how we deliver assistance for food insecurity … but I don't think there's a serious effort to get us there anytime soon.. "..

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  • Title: Pourquoi la famine revient-elle? | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Pourquoi la famine revient-elle?.. Thursday, September 1, 2011.. View full article.. here.. La famine dans la Corne de l'Afrique relance l'inquiètude sur la capacité de la planète à nourrir demain 9 milliards d'humains.. Cartographie de la crise alimentaire établie le 19 juillet pour la période juillet-septembre 2011.. Les alertes lancées depuis presque un an par les ONG et l'Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture (FAO) n'ont pas permis d'éviter une crise alimentaire dans la Corne de l'Afrique : début août, le  ...   en Ouganda a atteint 12,4 millions, deux fois plus que début 2011.. La situation est particulièrement grave dans le sud de la Somalie, où l'état de famine a été déclaré par les Nations unies dans cinq régions.. Selon les critères de l'IPC (*) utilisé par l'ONU, il y a famine quand plus de 30 % de la population souffrent de malnutrition aiguë et que le taux de mortalité dépasse les deux décès par jour pour 10 000 habitants.. Lire la suite de l’article..

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  • Title: A Predictable Famine | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: A Predictable Famine.. Monday, August 15, 2011.. Originally published by.. The Mark.. by Frederic Mousseau.. The current food crisis in the Horn of Africa is a result of the problematic development model promoted by the World Bank.. Once again, the lives of millions of East Africans are threatened by famine.. According to the United Nations, at the end of July 2011, some 12 million people across five countries in the Horn of Africa were in need of emergency assistance.. While relief organizations and UN agencies are urging donors to provide the funding necessary to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance, some observers are asking whether this food crisis was, in fact, predictable.. This food crisis was not just predictable; it was the direct result of certain misguided development policies that have ravaged indigenous, agropastoralist populations throughout East Africa.. Looking back over the last decade, we can identify certain factors that contributed to previous crises but have so far gone unaddressed.. This region experienced severe food crises that required massive international interventions in 2002, 2006, and 2008.. Each time, the bulk of the people in need were small-farm farmers and, above all, agropastoralists and pastoralists living in the dry lands of the Horn.. That said, the situation in Somalia is admittedly a separate case from those that I’m discussing in this piece.. There, the population is paying a high cost from the war that has been raging since the U.. -backed invasion by Ethiopian forces in 2006.. The war there has had a dramatic impact on the economy and trade, and has made it difficult for aid and humanitarian agencies to reach those in need.. Why politics must not take precedence over feeding the hungry.. Read more.. With Somalia as a notable exception, then, a number of commentators and experts have.. linked.. the current situation in East Africa to la Niña and el Niño.. But this crisis was not predictable as a result of some meteorological cycle that brings drought to East Africa every three or four years.. Rather, it was possible to predict because pastoralist and indigenous populations have been continuously marginalized by agricultural policies and investments.. Over the past three decades, a considerable amount of knowledge and experience has been gathered concerning both the factors that lead to food insecurity in the region and the various solutions available to alleviate hunger.. These solutions are known, but not implemented.. As Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s chief executive, recently.. said.. , “It is a colossal outrage that the warnings went unheeded, that the lessons of previous famines have been ignored.. Many experts  ...   “available.. ” According to.. research published.. by the Oakland Institute in June 2011, 3.. 6 million hectares of land have been given away to investors since 2008 in Ethiopia alone.. For those who might be disturbed by these facts and figures, it should be noted that the development model underlying this policy in Ethiopia is a textbook case of the paradigm that the World Bank has been promoting in Africa.. The model is based on two main pillars.. The first one aims to attract foreign investment and “modernize” agricultural practices (i.. e.. by developing large-scale industrial farming that will replace subsistence agriculture and agropastoralism).. In theory, it is hoped that such investments will trigger economic growth and create employment opportunities.. In practice, though, it is unclear who will actually benefit from such growth.. Furthermore, it appears unlikely that the low-paid plantation jobs created by such investments will compensate for the losses of the millions of people whose livelihoods are destroyed as a result of this policy (especially since, by nature, capital intensive, mechanized farming employs fewer people than labour-intensive small farms).. Canada is donating $50 million in aid to East Africa.. Read all about it.. The failure of this first pillar provides some rationale for the existence of the second pillar of the World Bank’s involvement: support of the so-called.. Productive Safety Net Programme.. (PSNP).. The PSNP has been in place in Ethiopia since 2005.. The programme delivers cash or food transfers to eight million chronically food-insecure people (about 10 per cent of the population).. Though it was initially designed as an alternative to international relief operations, the programme has had to be complemented every year since 2008 with international food aid to feed some five million additional people.. Perhaps a program like this would not have been needed in the first place if the World Bank had supported policies and investments in favour of the small-farm farmers and pastoralists instead of only pushing for the kinds of reforms encompassed in attracting foreign investment and “modernizing” agricultural practices.. Like in Ethiopia, the daily survival of a growing number of people in the Horn of Africa is now reliant on safety nets and food aid, both funded – at high costs – by international donors.. This number will continue to increase until governments in the region decisively redirect their policies in favour of those who have been impoverished and marginalized for too many years.. Sadly, the policies adopted in the region in recent years seem to indicate that East African leaders have already decided to do just the opposite..

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  • Title: Continued Price Instability Questions Reliance on Global Food Markets | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Continued Price Instability Questions Reliance on Global Food Markets.. Frederic Mousseau, OI Policy Director, is the author of the Chapter III of the new World Disaster Report published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).. This new report warns that the world's poorest people are at serious risk from rocketing food prices and volatile global markets.. The Chapter III,.. Continued Price Instability Questions Reliance on Global Food Markets.. outlines the impact of price volatility on food insecurity and hunger.. It argues that higher food prices can be explained by a number of intertwined factors such as slowing growth in food production,  ...   and India is not a major factor in explaining higher food prices.. Against the background of powerful forces at play in today's globalized world, a number of realistic measures are highlighted and suggestions made for coping with price instability.. These include government measures to limit domestic inflation and the neglected and often crucial role of remittances and safety nets.. Food aid programs and the ability of the global food market to supply sufficient and cheap food must be viewed with skepticism.. Rather, the way forward lies in regulation, social protection and increased food production.. Read the IFRC Press Release.. Read Chapter III,.. Download File:.. Chap3.. pdf..

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  • Title: Achieving Regional Integration: The Key to Win the Fight Against Hunger in West Africa | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Achieving Regional Integration: The Key to Win the Fight Against Hunger in West Africa.. Achieving Regional Integration: The Key to Win the Fight Against Hunger in West Africa.. assesses the relevance and potential of regional institutions and mechanisms in reducing hunger and undernutrition in West Africa - where chronic hunger remains pervasive - decades after the devastating droughts of the 1970s.. The report analyzes the role regional institutions have in the fight against hunger and argues that, despite weaknesses, the existence and commitment of regional institutions is key.. Achieving_Regional_Integration..

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  • Title: Le Défi de la Hausse des Prix Alimentaires: Une Revue des Responses a la Crise de 2008 | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Le Défi de la Hausse des Prix Alimentaires: Une Revue des Responses a la Crise de 2008.. The French translation of.. The High Food Price Challenge: A Review of Responses to Combat Hunger.. La hausse des prix alimentaires en 2007-2008 a menacé la sécurité alimentaire voire la survie de milliards d’individus pour qui, se procurer assez  ...   hommes et des femmes, des groupes de la société civile, des gouvernements et des organisations internationales ont agi pour faire face à la crise déclenchée par la hausse exceptionnelle des prix alimentaires.. Ce rapport analyse l’adéquation et l’efficacité des réponses ainsi que les changements dans les politiques alimentaires et agricoles provoqués par cette hausse des prix.. high_food_prices_FR_02..

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  • Title: G8 Italian Gala: Will it Feed the Hungry or Fuel Hunger? | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: G8 Italian Gala: Will it Feed the Hungry or Fuel Hunger?.. Wednesday, July 1, 2009.. A version of this Briefing Paper was first published by the.. Foreign Policy in Focus.. By Anuradha Mittal.. G8's extravaganza in L’Aquila, Italy this week (July 8-10, 2009) will showcase its efforts to combat world hunger.. Reports sugest that the United States will announce a “significant” increase in funding for agricultural development aid and urge multi-year commitments from other G8 countries to reach a $15 billion target, that will be pooled in a global agriculture and food security trust fund administered by the World Bank.. This move follows the G8’s admission of failure in tackling hunger at its first-ever farm conference in Treviso, Italy in April 2009.. Proposals to challenge hunger have become essential at international conferences since the 2008 food crisis.. The 83 percent increase in food prices between 2005 and 2008 created a massive surge in global hunger.. The number of hungry in 2008 increased from 854 million in 2007 to 963 million.. (FAO, 2008), compelling heads of states to discuss food security amidst warnings of political instability and social unrest grew.. The political intent to combat world hunger has however proven to be short-lived.. The decline in crop prices that started in the middle of 2008 made the problem less severe for policymakers, while the bailouts of failing banks and bankruptcies of automakers captured all attention and resources.. The hunger crisis, however, is far from over.. So far, 2009 has witnessed a historic high in hunger – an estimated 1.. 02 billion people, one sixth of humanity – go hungry every day.. (FAO, 2009a) Despite an improved global cereal supply situation and a decline in international prices of most cereals from their highs in the first half of 2008, food prices remain high in developing countries.. (FAO, 2009b) Thirty-two countries face acute food crisis.. The economic crisis has worsened the situation by further shrinking the purchasing power of the urban poor and subsistence farmers in poor countries.. (TWN, 2009b).. In this world of increasing poverty and hunger, the G8 will announce a new initiative to fight hunger that seeks a more coordinated approach to food aid and development.. The G8’s performance on its past commitments, however, casts a shadow on the sincerity of their intentions.. G8’s Record.. At the height of the 2008 food crisis, G8 leaders highlighted food security at their summit in Hokkaido, Japan, which cost over $600 million – compared to the $400 million annual budget of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).. Nearly half of the summit’s budget was spent on a massive security operation involving some 21,000 police officers, coast guard, and soldiers.. With much fanfare, the G8 communiqué on global food security committed $10 billion for food and agricultural aid to increase agricultural production in developing countries.. Despite the media glitz around the announcement, this was not new money, but a mere adding up of aid already pledged by the G8 countries.. The G8 communiqué also made a commitment to “reverse the overall decline of aid and investment in the agricultural sector.. ” But the commitment failed to list any specific dollar amounts and with no timeline.. Similarly, at the 2005 summit, the G8 promised to double aid to Africa by 2010, but members have failed to fulfill their pledges.. Despite commitments, pledges, and grandiose communiqués by the rich donor nations to challenge hunger at numerous international summits, world hunger persists.. The problem lies in the fallacy of explanations offered regarding world hunger.. World hunger has been framed as a crisis of demand and supply, thus the proposed solutions primarily focus on boosting agricultural production through technological solutions, like genetic engineering (GE) and chemical inputs, and/or on removing supply-side constraints to ensure access to food through liberalization of agricultural trade.. This framework was used, for instance, to explain the 2008 food crisis without questioning the policies promoted over the last several decades by the donor countries and the international financial institutions that have undermined food security in developing countries.. Free Trade = Freedom from Hunger?.. While pledging commitment to fight hunger, the G8 communiqué in 2008 reiterated its continued support for “the development of open and efficient agricultural and food markets.. ” The G8 Farm Conference in 2009 also recommended open markets, emphasizing that an “ambitious conclusion of the Doha Round” of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will help solve the hunger crisis.. The draft communiqué at L’Aquila will once again urge members to keep their markets open and to reject protectionism.. (Reuters, 2009c).. The G8’s rationale that international trade will help challenge hunger was reflected in a speech by Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council conference in May 2009.. Lamy claimed that increased competition reduces prices, thereby enhancing the purchasing power of the consumers.. Secondly, he argued, trade helps transport food from places where it can be produced efficiently to where there is demand.. (Reuters, 2009a).. Assertion that free trade will help solve hunger requires a certain degree of political amnesia.. Liberalization of agricultural markets has yet to deliver on the promised or expected gains in growth and stability in the developing world.. Olivier De Schutter, United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, in his submission to the Commission of Sustainable Development (CSD) in May 2009, pointed out that the multilateral trading system is “heavily skewed in favor of a small group of countries, and in urgent need of reform.. ” (TWN, 2009) He was referring to how rich countries have used their heavily subsidized agriculture to help secure markets by flooding developing countries with cheap farm imports, making subsistence farming uncompetitive and financially unstable.. This has converted developing countries that were once self-sufficient, and even net exporters of agricultural products, into net importers.. With the increase in imports,  ...   this growth is much less than what has been achieved over that time by other methods, including conventional breeding.. The report contends that it makes little sense to support genetic engineering at the expense of technologies that have proven to be more successful at increasing yields.. (UCSUSA, 2009).. Other studies also demonstrate that organic and similar farming methods can more than double crop yields.. Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.. , a study by the U.. N.. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the U.. Environment Program (UNEP), found that organic or near-organic agriculture practices in Africa outperformed conventional production systems based on chemical-intensive farming, provided environmental benefits, and were more conducive to food security in the region.. This analysis of 114 farming projects in 24 African countries found that organic practices resulted in a yield increase of more than 100%.. (UNCTAD, 2008).. The study confirmed the findings and recommendations of the UN’s first ever evidence-based assessment of global agriculture for reducing hunger and poverty, improving rural livelihoods, and working toward environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable development.. Known as the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD, 2008), the study called for a fundamental paradigm shift in agricultural development while concluding that genetic engineering is no solution for soaring food prices and hunger.. It instead recommended low-input, low-cost agroecological farming methods.. In the face of growing evidence, continued efforts by the G8 to improve agricultural productivity through technologies like genetic engineering only serves the interests of biotech corporations.. Monsanto, for instance, is running an advertising campaign in national newspapers like.. The New York Times.. and on.. National Public Radio.. claiming “its improved seeds help farmers double yields,” needed to feed the world’s growing population.. (Monsanto, 2009).. What’s Not on the G8 Menu: Building a Resilient Agricultural System to Feed the World.. At the World Food Summit in 1996, heads of governments made a commitment to reduce the number of hungry people-–815 million then–-in half by 2015.. The latest figure of 1.. 02 billion people living with hunger reveals a crisis spiraling out of control.. The need to feed the world in ways that are environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable has never been more urgent.. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) recently pointed out that past reliance on technology jeopardized long-term sustainability with the overuse of chemical inputs.. ESCAP’s report highlights evidence from hundreds of grassroots development projects that increased agricultural productivity through agroecological practices, while increasing food supplies, incomes, food access, and improving the livelihoods of the poor.. ESCAP thus recommends investment in sustainable agriculture that prioritizes small-scale food production based on ecologically viable systems.. (UNESCAP, 2009).. In 2008, 60 governments approved the IAASTD report’s call for a radical shift in agricultural policy and practice in order to address hunger and poverty, social inequities, and environmental sustainability.. Recognizing that the past emphasis on increasing yields and productivity had negative consequences, the IAASTD report promoted agriculture that is biodiversity-based, including agroecology and organic farming, for being resilient, productive, beneficial to poor farmers, and one that will allow adaptation to climate change.. (IAASTD, 2008).. However, these recommendations that focus on sustainability and boosting poor peoples incomes have yet to make it to the G8 agenda.. If the G8 is indeed committed to ending hunger, the member countries must stop the steady drumbeat of proselytizing for free markets and technological solutions to hunger and instead implement the findings and recommendations of IAASTD, for instance.. More important, a genuine commitment will require recognizing the need for developing countries to have policy space to determine agricultural policies that meet the needs of their populations; implement a genuine agrarian reform that will ensure farmers’ rights to land, water, seeds and other resources; ensure that the local products are competitive; see that farmers’ livelihoods and incomes are sustained; and assure national food security.. In short, instead of promoting their old failed “development” formulas in new clothing, the G8 need to take responsibility and support governments in developing countries to put in place or restore sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.. * Anuradha Mittal is the Executive Director of the Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank working to increase public participation and to promote fair debate on critical social, economic, and environmental issues.. www.. oaklandinstitute.. References.. Action Aid International (2008).. Impact of Agro-Import Surges in Developing Countries.. Bertini C and Glickman D (2009).. Farm Futures: Bringing Agriculture Back to U.. Foreign Policy.. Council of Foreign Relations.. May/June.. Des Moines Register (2009).. Vilsack pledges better push on biotech crops.. April 21.. FAO (2008).. Number of Hungry People Rises to 963 Million.. Rome, December.. FAO (2008b).. Crop Prospects and Food Situation.. Rome, April.. FAO (2009).. Highlights.. Rome, April P.. 1.. FAO (2009a).. 02 billion people hungry.. Rome, June 19.. Financial Times (2009).. US urges food output boost to avert unrest.. 19 April.. IAASTD (2008).. World Agricultural Report.. Johannesburg, April.. Monsanto (2009).. Produce more.. Conserve more.. Improve farmers’ lives.. St.. Louis.. PANNA (2009).. Keep GE food out of foreign aid! San Francisco, April 17.. Reuters (2009a).. International trade helps solve food crisis: WTO.. May 10.. Reuters (2009b).. G8 expected to back new approach to food aid.. July 4.. Reuters (2009c).. World Bank head welcomes G8 food security plan.. July 7.. South Center (2008).. Food and Energy Crisis: Time to Rethink Development Policy.. Geneva, September.. Spiegel Online (2009).. Germany bans cultivation of GM corn.. 14 April.. Third World Network (2009a).. Global financial crisis, volatile food prices, make agricultural focus urgent, UN human rights food expert says.. TWN Agriculture Info, 7 May.. TWN (2009b).. Food Crisis Still Lurking on the Horizon.. Malaysia, May.. UNCTAD (2008).. The Least Developed Countries Report.. 107.. UNESCAP (2009).. Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Asia and the Pacific.. Bangkok.. Union of Concerned Scientists (2009).. Failure to Yield.. Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops.. Washington, DC, March..

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  • Title: The Food Crisis and Latin America | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: The Food Crisis and Latin America.. Latin_America-Food_Prices_Brief..

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  • Title: Food Price Crisis: A Wake Up Call for New Policies to Eradicate Hunger | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Food Price Crisis: A Wake Up Call for New Policies to Eradicate Hunger.. Wednesday, October 1, 2008.. Food Price Crisis: A Wake Up Call for New Policies to Eradicate Hunger.. In recent weeks, several UN agencies have issued warnings against impending "food riots" because of the acute hike in prices of rice, corn, wheat, and other staples.. Morocco, Guinea, Egypt, Mexico, Haiti, Yemen, Mauritania, Senegal, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan have already been rocked by mass protests.. The World Food Program (WFP), which feeds 73 million people in almost 80 countries, has called upon donor governments to close the $500 million funding gap by May 1, 2008 or it may not be able to make its food aid commitments.. Worst affected by resulting hunger are the poor, surviving on less then $2 a day, in developing countries.. World food prices rose by 39 percent between February 2007 - 2008.. The real price of rice rose to a 19-year high in March – an increase of 50 per cent in two weeks alone – while the real price of wheat has hit a 28-year high, triggering an international crisis.. Various causes for this crisis are being cited in policy circles, including increased demand from China, India and other emerging economies, rising fuel and fertilizer costs, climate change.. World Economic Outlook (WEO) just released by the IMF, holds bio-fuels responsible for almost half the increase in the consumption of major food crops in 2006–07.. Governments are resorting to desperate measures to address growing social unrest before it destabilizes countries.. Pakistan reintroduced ration cards for the first time in two decades; Russia has frozen prices of milk, bread, eggs, and cooking oil; Indonesia has increased public food subsidies; while China,  ...   in the 1970s transforming into USD 11 billion deficit in 2001.. Dismantling of marketing boards that protected both producers and consumers against sharp rises or drops in prices, has further worsened the situation.. In the face of the current crisis UN agencies are calling for governments to step up their investments in agriculture and advocating for market efficiency.. However these steps will be ineffective if not combined with much needed structural changes that ensure peoples right to food.. First, it is essential to have safety nets and public distribution systems put in place to prevent widespread hunger.. The poorest countries lacking resources should call for and be provided emergency aid to set up such systems.. Donor countries should provide more aid immediately to support government efforts in poor countries and respond to appeals from the UN agencies.. Second, emergency interventions are required to boost rural development and promote agrarian reforms including land redistribution.. Development policies should promote consumption and production of local crops raised by small, sustainable farms rather than encouraging poor nations to specialize in cash crops for western markets.. Also national policies involving the management of stocks and pricing, which limit the volatility of food prices are vital for protection against such food crisis.. The creation of these policies however depends on several prerequisites based on the principle of food sovereignty which would allow countries to protect their agriculture and markets.. No industrialized country has been capable of developing its agriculture without protective barriers.. The current crisis should be the wake up call for governments in developing countries to ensure similar protection for their poorest farmers and consumers and build a new farm economy which should be the centerpiece of the country’s development model..

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  • Title: Manufacturing Hunger: Indonesia’s Food Crisis | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Manufacturing Hunger: Indonesia’s Food Crisis.. Tuesday, September 30, 2008.. Report and Photos by Andre Vltchek*.. September 2008.. Pasar Baru (New Market) at the outskirts of the city of Porong in East Java is a temporary home to many refugees from Lapindo Brantas land slide – a calamity that occurred more than two years ago.. Approximately 2,000 people are using this enormous market site, just a few kilometers from the disaster area as their temporary refuge.. Even inadequate compensation package of about US $6,500 is continuously delayed.. Men, women and children live in unhygienic conditions, sleeping on what used to be the market stalls, sheltered from each other by plastic sheets.. They have very limited access to potable water, medical care and electricity.. Their hardship is extreme, but to many, it is symbolic of the situation in Indonesia today.. For the country’s poor, Indonesia is plagued by an indifference towards the poor, lack of protection for the majority, stagnating salaries, and constantly rising fuel, land and food prices.. “My husband was a ‘becak’ driver (motorcycle taxi),” explains Ms.. Nur Kholifah from Kedong Bendo, the first village inundated by the mud from Lapindo Brantas mine.. “Now he has to look for work elsewhere – he hasn’t come home for 3 days.. I had to sell my gold jewelry in order to buy food for the family.. My mother died 3 weeks ago – she used to be healthy: I think she died from stress.. I don’t know how we are going to survive.. Some people have come to rely on charity while the others turn to begging.. Food is on everyone’s mind.. Disaster victims have spent almost everything on food and still remain hungry.. But even the average Indonesian household is now spending around 50% of the earnings on feeding itself.. Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data shows people spend 54 percent of their income on food.. Five hundred kilometers away in Bali, at the luxury resort Le Meridian, also known as Nirwana Bali, housekeeper Suryawan laments: “We have to work much harder now.. Families have to be fed.. School fees have to be paid.. Just to buy basic food for two adults and two children we have to pay Rp.. 50,000 (US$ 5.. 50) per day.. ” That is in the country where over one half of the population lives on less than U.. $2 a day.. It is very difficult to evaluate exact extent of the poverty rate in Indonesia – one of the worst in Asia – as official data is unreliable and often manipulated.. Professor Tresna P.. Soemardi of the Management Faculty of the University of Indonesia says if the standard of less than one dollar per day earnings is used, then 49% of Indonesians live in poverty.. Indonesian statistics bureau calculates that “only” 15.. 42% of the population was living in poverty in 2007, but their data is based on government’s definition of poverty: person earning less than 182,636 rupiah ($19.. 81) a month.. In the last year alone, food prices have risen by at least 11.. 4% (according to Jakarta Post).. This is in response to the increase in global food prices and skyrocketing fuel and transportation costs in a country where the government has gradually abandoned fuel subsidies.. In a meeting organized by the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, Agustinus Prasetyantoko of Atmajaya University alleged that food and energy prices are expected to continue rising in the coming years due to increasing demand and shrinking output.. In May 2008, The Jakarta Post reported that speculations in the financial market, including futures trading, have exacerbated the energy and food crisis by inflating prices in spite of a global economic slowdown.. “Commodities, Agustinus said, including food and oil, have become the anchors of financial derivatives and more and more commodities contracts are being traded in the futures market.. But Rachmat Pambudu, the Secretary General of HKTI (Himpunan Kerukunan Tani Indonesia - Indonesian Farmers Association with around 21 million members, remains upbeat.. Commenting for the report he wondered: “Food crises? Who said there is a food crisis? That is only a rumor! HKTI is implementing some real programs, advocating for no import policies! So we are against imports because facts show that we can do it ourselves: to plant rice, corn and sugarcane.. Yet it remains to be seen how successful HKTI will be in blocking the imports – clearly a move desired by most local farmers who see rice imports from Vietnam and elsewhere, as unwelcome competition.. However, it is no secret that Indonesia is far from being self-sufficient in production of rice and other crops.. Many see the last years of Suharto’s rule as the bubble that burst during the Asian Financial Crises in the late 90’s.. In November 1998 Suharto stepped down, but his extreme pro-market economic system accompanied by widespread corruption and cronyism survived his retirement, even his death.. Almost no public subsidies to farmers, crumbling infrastructure, land speculations have resulted in a country which won the FAO gold medal in 1984 for achieving self sufficiency in rice, today being dependant on food imports.. Leadership of HKTI, however, can be hardly described as socially oriented.. It is notable that the chairman of HKTI – Prabowo Subianto – is a retired army general and former chief of Special  ...   a result of maternal malnutrition affecting 12 to 22% women aged 15-49.. In 2003, 27.. 5 percent of children under five in Indonesia were moderately to severely underweight.. Increasing food prices and stagnating incomes have lead to a situation where each grain of rice suddenly matters - at least for the majority of the people.. In the meanwhile, Jakarta Post and other publications have reported a sharp deterioration in the quality of food served in traditional (relatively cheap) eateries and markets, including reports of some places selling meatballs made of rat meat and fish sprinkled with formaldehyde (chemical used to make corpses look ‘fresh’ before the funeral).. In the capital, Ibu Kuswaiyah, vegetable seller at one of the markets in East Jakarta – Pasar Perumnas Klender – describes her plight.. “We don’t know what to do anymore.. Almost all prices of vegetables went up; some even increased by 50%, while prices of others simply doubled.. Now we also have to pay much more for transportation.. Usually, to bring one load of vegetables from Pasar Induk in Kramat Jati (Central Market in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta) we paid Rp.. 20,000 (over U.. $2).. Now we are expected to shoulder the bill of Rp.. 30,000 – 35,000 (US 3.. 10 to 3.. 70) There are days when I have no money to buy new supplies at the Central Market, even if I managed to sell everything the previous day.. In the face of the international food crisis and fuel cost squeeze that is threatening millions like Ibu Kuswaiyah worldwide, the United States and European Union have been unwilling to stop subsidizing their farmers and agribusinesses, and have continued to pressure the developing world to “open their markets” and obey the rules of free trade agreements.. Grassroots International and Via Campesina could not disagree more with that policy direction.. In their report “A Response to the Global Food Prices Crisis - Sustainable Family Farming Can Feed the World,” two organizations are offering an alternative approach:.. “Due to the expected growth of world population until 2050 and the need to face climate change, the world will have to produce more food in the years to come.. Farmers are able to meet that challenge as they have done in the past.. Indeed, the world population doubled in the past 50 years but farmers have increased cereal production even faster.. Via Campesina believes that in order to protect livelihoods, jobs, people's health and the environment, food has to remain in the hands of small scale sustainable farmers and cannot be left under the control of large agribusiness companies or supermarket chains.. GMOs and industrial agriculture will not provide healthy food and will further deteriorate the environment.. For example, the new "Green Revolution" pushed by AGRA in Africa (new seeds, fertilizers and irrigation at large scale) will not solve the food crisis.. It will deepen it.. On the other hand, recent research shows that small organic farms are at least as productive as conventional farms, some estimates even suggest that global food production could even increase by as much as 50% with organic agriculture.. To avoid a major food crisis, governments and public institutions have to adopt specific policies aimed at protecting the production of the most important energy in the world: food!.. Governments have to develop, promote and protect local production in order to be less dependent on world food prices.. This implies the right for any country or union to control food imports and the duty to stop any form of food dumping.. The way forward is imminently clear.. Indonesia, like so many other developing countries, was forced to adopt market-based policies in the mid 1960’s.. Organized labor, solidarity and support for social justice were all discouraged, sometimes even entirely outlawed by Suharto and his followers.. Poor people (majority of the country), even today, are supposed to serve interests of the small but mighty and utterly corrupt elite.. To increase production and improve quality of food, to boost standards of living in the countryside, and to prevent farmers from being at the mercy of international markets, Indonesian farmers have to forge alliances in the region and with the rest of the world.. Suharto’s regime took full advantage of geographical isolation of these isles, making sure that disadvantaged sectors of the population were not able to network and exchange ideas and develop strategies with the foreign counterparts.. This has to rapidly change.. Problems that the farmers and great majority of the Indonesian people are now facing are found in many other parts of the world: from Guatemala and Peru to sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Philippines.. It is time for the struggling farmers and the working poor to learn from each other, exchange ideas, and come together in the struggle against unfair trade and market fundamentalism.. Andre Vltchek, a Senior Fellow at Oakland Institute, is a novelist, journalist, filmmaker, and a playwright.. He is the chief editor of Asiana News Agency (.. asiananews.. ) and co-founder of Mainstay Press.. His latest novel "Point of No Return” is about war correspondents covering the so called New World Order.. He also produced a 90-minute film on Suharto’s dictatorship: “Terlena – Breaking of the Nation.. ” Andre lives and works in Southeast Asia and South Pacific and can be reached at..

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