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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Death by Government- African Drought

The Washington Post reports on the drought in East Africa, and the role of incompetent governments in making it worse.
But the situation has become especially politicized in Kenya, where people say that the effects of recurrent droughts are exacerbated by systematic government failings. The government currently has 500,000 metric tons of maize in strategic reserves, for instance, but the monthly requirement to feed the population is 300,000 tons, and the crisis is expected to continue for at least two months. The government is also being blamed for the systematic destruction of the country's primary water catchment area, the vast Mau Forest. Despite repeated warnings by environmental agencies, the area has been devastated over the years by politically motivated land grabs by Kenyan elites and settlements of people who have chopped down trees to make and sell charcoal.

As a result, rivers that feed lakes, water farms and hydroelectric power plants are drying up. Though the government has pledged to stop the destruction of the forest, it has not yet taken any action. And other conservation efforts, such as promoting drip irrigation and drought-resistant crops in arid areas and diversifying power sources, have not progressed much.
Africa has been plagued for the last century by corrupt and violent governments that steal their people's wealth, and in far too many cases murder their own citizens. This failure of government, far more than any natural disaster, is why Africa has been largely left behind as freedom, prosperity, and democracy spread elsewhere around the globe.

1 comment:

  1. The New York Times leads with the Pentagon's decision to release the names of detainees held at secret camps in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Red Cross. The military previously insisted that the detainees' identities be kept classified for fear they could jeopardize counterterrorism efforts.