the United States."
GMWATCH REPORT: THE SCANDAL OF USAID
The US government says: "USAID is the government agency providing US economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 40 years." http://www.usaid.gov/
But critics point out that USAID is first and foremost a way to expand US markets and destroy local markets in developing countries - defeating its claimed purpose of regenerating developing countries.
A former consultant to the World Food Programme in Ecuador,
Dr Wilma Salgado, says that the US uses "food aid" as a means of expanding
markets for its heavily subsidised agricultural exports. US "food assistance"
to Ecuador has nearly wiped out the country's local production of wheat
and rendered it dependent on wheat imports from the US, thus threatening
its food security while creating a market for US exports.
Moreover, critics allege that USAID is used as an unofficial instrument of US foreign policy, forcing recipient countries to accept American conditions dictating what their people will eat, whom they will pay for their food and water, and even what medical care is available to them and how many children they will have.
US is the stingiest country in the amount of aid it gives:
Leading up to the UN Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico in March 2002, the Bush administration promised a nearly $10 billion fund over three years followed by a permanent increase of $5 billion a year thereafter. The EU also offered some $5 billion increase over a similar time period.
While these increases have been welcome, these targets are still below the 0.7% promised at the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The US has also cut back monetary obligations to the United Nations, which is the largest body trying to provide assistance in such a variety of ways to the developing countries. Furthermore, the US has often reduced or held back its required contributions to the U.N., even though it is already the "stingiest" of all industrialized nations providing aid. The "stingy" label was first applied to US aid by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter:
While the US provided large amounts of military aid to countries deemed strategically important, others noted that the US ranked low among developed nations in the amount of humanitarian aid it provided poorer countries. "We are the stingiest nation of all," former President Jimmy Carter said in an address at Principia College in Elsah, Ill." (Who rules next?, Christian Science Monitor, December 29, 1999)
WHO BENEFITS? NOT THE RECIPIENT COUNTRIES
Even the World Bank has criticised USAID’s self-serving agenda:
Among the big donors, the US has the worst record for spending its aid budget on itself - 70 percent of its aid is spent on US goods and services. And more than half is spent in middle income countries in the Middle East. Only $3bn a year goes to South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. (Monterrey: "U.S. Will 'Seek Advice On Spending Aid'," World Bank, March 21, 2002)
USAID is a way for the US to gain influence over developing countries a sort of neocolonialism and to force open markets to US exports. The US, along with other countries of the North, maintains trade barriers and subsidies that make it cheaper to use domestically produced goods rather than import them from developing countries. Thus the developing countries of the South have to import goods from the US and the North and cannot sell their own goods to US and the North adding to the burden of debt and dependency:
… promises of more money were tied to more conditions, which for many developing countries is another barrier to real development, as the conditions are sometimes favorable to the donor, not necessarily the recipient. Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment commented on the U.S. conditional pledge of more money that:
"Thus, status quo in world relations is maintained.
Rich countries like the US continue to have a financial lever to dictate
what good governance means and to pry open markets of developing countries
for multinational corporations. Developing countries have no such handle
for Northern markets, even in sectors like agriculture and textiles, where
they have an advantage but continue to face trade barriers and subsidies.
The estimated annual cost of Northern trade barriers to Southern economies
is over US $100 billion, much more than what developing countries receive
in aid." (Puppets on purse strings, Down To Earth, (Centre for Science
Environment) Vol 10, No 23, April 30, 2002)
Aid has been a foreign policy tool to aid the donor not the recipient
"AID appears to have established as a priority the importance of influencing domestic policy in the recipient countries" - Benjamin F. Nelson, International Affairs Budget: Framework for Assessing Relevance, Priority and Efficiency (Washington, DC: General Accounting Office, October 30, 1997).
One of the root causes of poverty lies in the powerful nations that have formulated most of the trade and aid policies today, which are more to do with maintaining dependencies on industrialized nations, providing sources of cheap labor and cheaper goods for populations back home and increasing personal wealth, and maintaining power over others in various ways. … so-called lending and development schemes have done next to nothing to help poorer nations progress.
When is aid not aid? When it’s a loan tied to buying US goods and services. "The OECD said that US aid was still overwhelmingly ‘tied’ to the purchase of American exports, or delivered directly in food aid both of which have repeatedly been criticised by development experts." (‘OECD urges US to improve delivery of aid’, Financial Times, 23 October 2002)
The USAID website candidly states: "The principal beneficiary
of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States.
Close to 80% of the USAID contracts and grants go directly to American
firms. Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for
agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial exports
and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans."
Download the Greenpeace report on USAID and GM food aid
At a recent U.N. conference in Brussels, Belgium, Holland's minister for development cooperation, spoke of "tied aid" as one form of "bad donor behaviour" by the U.S. and other nations. Tied aid requires recipient countries to purchase goods and services from the donor and "has been criticized as inefficient and harmful to recipient nations," the U.N. says. During the conference, USAID Administrator Andrew S. Natsios announced that Washington would abide by an agreement to untie the aid by January 1 2001. Note: in November 2002, USAID is still tied.
"GM corn was no more a donation [to Zambia] from the US
than the money you and I spend on our credit cards is a donation to us
from Visa or Mastercard. Dr Lewanika, a scientific advisor to the Zambian
government explains: ‘Aid was not offered - money ($51 million) was given
as a loan to the private sector to import maize from the USA. When this
maize was imported Zambia was not informed that it was GE contaminated.
It is important to get prior consent from a country rather than imposing
GE contaminated food grain on a nation.’ Especially when that grain is
not a gift but a forced purchase with money that incurs interest, adding
to the third world debt." NGIN’s GM Watch no 2
… food aid is not usually free. It is often loaned, albeit at a low interest rate. When the U.S. sent wheat to Indonesia during the 1999 crisis, it was a loan to be paid back over a twenty-five-year period. In this manner, food aid has helped the U.S. take over grain markets in India, Nigeria, Korea, and elsewhere. (Anuradha Mittal, True Cause of World Hunger, February 2002)
As President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti points out, there is a boomerang effect of loans as large portions of aid money is tied to purchases of goods and trade with the donor:
"Many in the first world imagine the amount of money spent on aid to developing countries is massive. In fact, it amounts to only .03% of GNP of the industrialized nations. In 1995, the director of the U.S. aid agency defended his agency by testifying to his congress that 84 cents of every dollar of aid goes back into the U.S economy in goods and services purchased. For every dollar the United States puts into the World Bank, an estimated $2 actually goes into the U.S. economy in goods and services. Meanwhile, in 1995, severely indebted low-income countries paid one billion dollars more in debt and interest to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) than they received from it. For the 46 countries of Subsaharan Africa, foreign debt service was four times their combined governmental health and education budgets in 1996. So, we find that aid does not aid." (Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Eyes of the Heart; Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, (Common Courage Press, 2000), p. 13)
One could add to the above that aid does not aid the recipient, it aids the donor. For the US here, its aid agency was an aspect of its foreign policy to enhance its interests, successfully.
Most USAID goes not to the neediest countries, but to favoured middle-income Middle Eastern countries strategically useful in protecting the flow of oil to the US:
While the U.S. aid amount might look very generous in sheer dollar terms (ignoring the percentage issue for the moment), the World Bank also points out that at the World Economic Forum in New York, February 2002, "[U.S. Senator Patrick] Leahy noted that two-thirds of US government aid goes to only two countries: Israel and Egypt. Much of the remaining third is used to promote US exports or to fight a war against drugs that could only be won by tackling drug abuse in the United States."
"FREE TRADE" FOR WHOM?
US-dominated WTO rules mandating "free trade" and forbidding farmer subsidies and import tariffs are implemented, interpreted, applied and ignored by the US and the Northern countries according to their own convenience. While the US/WTO forbids import tariffs and farmer subsidies in developing nations as "protectionist measures", the US and EU massively subsidise their own agriculture. This means that the rich countries of the North do not import goods from the developing South as they have a ready supply of domestically produced subsidised food. If "free trade" bans on farmer subsidies and import tariffs were applied fairly to richer countries of the North as well as developing countries of the South, food aid and financial aid would probably not be needed by the South. The amount of money that would flow towards the South in a genuinely free market would render obsolete the USAID "donations":
… Europe [through the Common Agricultural Policy or CAP] subsidizes its agriculture to the tune of some $35-40 billion per year, even while it demands other nations to liberalize their markets to foreign competition. The U.S. also introduced a $190 billion dollar subsidy to its farms through the U.S. Farm Bill, also criticized as a protectionist measure.
This amounts to a lot of money, compared to the total aid amounts and it can have a direct impact on poorer nations, as well as smaller farmers in rich nations, as Oxfam, criticizing EU double standards, highlights:
"Latin America is the worst-affected region, losing $4bn annually from EU farm policies. EU support to agriculture is equivalent to double the combined aid budgets of the European Commission and all 15 member states. Half the spending goes to the biggest 17 per cent of farm enterprises, belying the manufactured myth that the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] is all about keeping small farmers in jobs." (Europe's Double Standards. How the EU should reform its trade policies with the developing world, Oxfam Policy Paper, April 2002, p.18)
TRADE RATHER THAN AID?
Talk of "trade rather than aid" for developing countries is hypocritical as the US and Northern countries are following an agenda that make this impossible, including subsidising their own farmers and (as we shall see in the next section) subsidising their own exports:
There is often much talk of trade rather than aid, of development, of opening markets etc. But, when at the same time some of the important markets of the U.S., E.U. and Japan appear to be no-go areas for the poorer nations, then such talk has been criticized by some as being hollow. The New York Times is worth quoting at length:
"Our compassion [at the 2002 G8 Summit talking of the desire to help Africa] may be well meant, but it is also hypocritical. The U.S., Europe and Japan spend $350 billion each year on agricultural subsidies (seven times as much as global aid to poor countries), and this money creates gluts that lower commodity prices and erode the living standard of the world's poorest people.
"‘These subsidies are crippling Africa's chance to export its way out of poverty,’ said James Wolfensohn, the World Bank president, in a speech last month.
"Mark Malloch Brown, the head of the United Nations Development Program, estimates that these farm subsidies cost poor countries about $50 billion a year in lost agricultural exports. By coincidence, that's about the same as the total of rich countries' aid to poor countries, so we take back with our left hand every cent we give with our right.
"’It's holding down the prosperity of very poor people in Africa and elsewhere for very narrow, selfish interests of their own,’ Mr. Malloch Brown says of the rich world's agricultural policy." - Nicholas D. Kristof, Farm Subsidies That Kill, New York Times, 5 July 2002
J. Brian Atwood, who stepped down in 1999 as head of the US foreign aid agency, USAID, has been very critical of US policies, venting his frustration that "despite many well-publicized trade missions, we saw virtually no increase of trade with the poorest nations. These nations could not engage in trade because they could not afford to buy anything." (Quoted from a speech that he delivered to the Overseas Development Council.)
President Aristide of Haiti faced dumping of cheap US imports on his country following "trade liberalisation". He writes:
"What happens to poor countries when they embrace free trade? In Haiti in 1986 we imported just 7000 tons of rice, the main staple food of the country. The vast majority was grown in Haiti. In the late 1980s Haiti complied with free trade policies advocated by the international lending agencies and lifted tariffs on rice imports. Cheaper rice immediately flooded in from the United States where the rice industry is subsidized. In fact the liberalization of Haiti's market coincided with the 1985 Farm Bill in the United States which increased subsidies to the rice industry so that 40% of U.S. rice growers' profits came from the government by 1987. Haiti's peasant farmers could not possibly compete. By 1996 Haiti was importing 196,000 tons of foreign rice at the cost of $100 million a year. Haitian rice production became negligible. Once the dependence on foreign rice was complete, import prices began to rise, leaving Haiti's population, particularly the urban poor, completely at the whim of rising world grain prices. And the prices contine to rise.
"What lessons do we learn? For poor countries free trade is not so free, or so fair. Haiti, under intense pressure from the international lending institutions, stopped protecting its domestic agriculture while subsidies to the U.S. rice industry increased. A hungry nation became hungrier." -- Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Eyes of the Heart; Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, (Common Courage Press, 2000)
The richer countries of the North use export subsidies to make their exported goods cheaper so that developing countries, who cannot afford such export subsidies, cannot compete:
… poor countries… are pressured to follow liberalization and reducing government "interference" while rich nations are able to subsidize some of their industries. Poor countries therefore have an even tougher time competing. Inter Press Service captures this well:
"On the one hand, OECD countries such as the U.S., Germany or France continue through the ECAs [export credit agencies] to subsidise exports with taxpayers' money, often in detriment to the competitiveness of the poorest countries of the world," says [NGO Environment Defence representative, Aaron] Goldzimmer.
Government subsidies mean considerable cost reduction for major companies and amount to around 10 per cent of annual world trade. In the year 2000, subsidies through ECAs added up to 64 billion dollars of exports from industrialised countries, well above the official development assistance granted last year of 51.4 billion dollars. (Julio Godoy, New Report Reveals Drop in Aid to Developing Countries, Inter Press Service, May 16, 2002)
Anuradha Mittal writes:
The Mexican government… has put over 2 million corn farmers out of business over the past few years by allowing imports of heavily subsidized corn from the United States. A flood of cheap imported grain has also driven local farmers out of business in Costa Rica. From 1984 to 1989, the number growing corn, beans, and rice, the staples of the local diet, fell from 70,000 to 27,000. That is the loss of 42,300 livelihoods. The same has taken place in Haiti, which the IMF forced open to imports of highly subsidized U.S. rice at the same time as it banned Haiti from subsidizing its own farmers. Between 1980 and 1997, rice imports grew from virtually zero to 200,000 tons a year, at the expense of domestically produced staples. As a result, Haitian farmers have been forced off their land to seek work in sweatshops, and people are worse off than ever: according to the IMF's own figures, 50 percent of Haitian children younger than 5 suffer from malnutrition and per capita income has dropped from around $600 in 1980 to $369 today.
Kenya, which had been self-sufficient until the 1980s, now imports 80 percent of its food, while 80 percent of its exports are accounted for by agriculture. In 1992, European Union (EU) wheat was sold in Kenya for 39 percent cheaper than the price paid to European farmers by the EU. In 1993, it was 50 percent cheaper. Consequently, imports of EU grain rose and, in 1995, Kenyan wheat prices collapsed through oversupply, undermining local production and creating poverty.
Far from ending hunger and promoting the economic interests of small farmers, agricultural liberalization has created a global food system that is structured to suit the interests of the powerful, to the detriment of poor farmers around the world. (Anuradha Mittal, Land Loss, Poverty and Hunger, December 3, 2001)
HOW TRADE LIBERALISATION DESTROYS FOOD SELF-SUFFICIENCY AND INCREASES THE NEED FOR "AID"
Critics of trade liberalisation policies allege that dirty tricks are sometimes used to destroy food self-sufficiency in developing countries and thus force open markets to US and Northern goods that were never needed before the manufactured "crisis":
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti describes how the eradication of the Creole pigs in Haiti in the 1980s and replacing them with "healthier" pigs resulted in further poverty and hunger. We are reminded of how, following trade liberalisation, India’s indigenous mustard oil supply was deliberately contaminated and forced off the market, to be replaced by soy oil made from surplus US GM soybeans a form of oil that was never part of the Indian culture. Back to the demise of Haiti’s pigs:
"Haiti's small, black, Creole pigs were at the heart of the peasant economy. An extremely hearty breed, well adapted to Haiti's climate and conditions, they ate readily-available waste products, and could survive for three days without food. Eighty to 85% of rural households raised pigs; they played a key role in maintaining the fertility of the soil and constituted the primary savings bank of the peasant population. Traditionally a pig was sold to pay for emergencies and special occasions (funerals, marriages, baptisms, ilnesses and, critically, to pay school fees and buy books for the children when school opened ...)
"In 1982 international agencies assured Haiti's peasants their pigs were sick and had to be killed (so that the illness would not spread to countries to the North). Promises were made that better pigs would replace sick pigs. With an efficiency not since seen among development projects, all of the Creole pigs were killed over a period of thirteen months.
"Two years later the new, better pigs came from Iowa. They were so much better that they required clean drinking water (unavailable to 80% of the Haitan population), imported feed (costing $90 a year when the per capita income was about $130), and special roofed pigpens. ... Adding insult to injury, the meat did not taste as good. Needless to say, the repopulation program was a complete failure. One observer of the process estimated that in monetary terms peasants lost $600 million dollars. There was a 30% drop in enrolment in rural schools, there was a dramatic decline in protein consumption in rural Haiti, a devastating decapitalization of the peasant economy and an incalculable negative impact on Haiti's soil and agricultural productivity. The Haitian peasantry has not recovered to this day." (Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Eyes of the Heart; Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, Common Courage Press, 2000)
Food aid, being "free" at the point where it is given out, destroys local food markets in developing countries because local farmers cannot compete and can no longer sell their own crops. The farmers go bust and leave the land, and the food markets of these countries are left wide open to be filled by US-based and Northern multinational corporations:
Even certain types of food "aid", (when not for emergency
relief) can be destructive. The dumping of the surplus production for free
(or nearly free) to poorer nations means that the farmers from such countries
cannot compete and are driven out of jobs, further slanting the "market
share" of the larger producers such as the US and Europe.
J. W. Smith, of the Institute for Economic Democracy, in his 1994 book titled the World's Wasted Wealth II, writes:
"Highly mechanized farms on large acreages can produce units of food cheaper than even the poorest paid farmers of the Third World. When this cheap food is sold, or given, to the Third World, the local farm economy is destroyed. If the poor and unemployed of the Third World were given access to land, access to industrial tools, and protection from cheap imports, they could plant high-protein/high calorie crops and become self-sufficient in food. Reclaiming their land and utilizing the unemployed would cost these societies almost nothing, feed them well, and save far more money than they now pay for the so-called "cheap" imported foods.
"World hunger exists because: (1) colonialism, and later subtle monopoly capitalism, dispossessed hundreds of millions of people from their land; the current owners are the new plantation managers producing for the mother countries; (2) the low-paid undeveloped countries sell to the highly paid developed countries because there is no local market [because the low-paid people do not have enough to pay] ... and (3) the current Third World land owners, producing for the First World, are appendages to the industrialized world, stripping all natural wealth from the land to produce food, lumber, and other products for wealthy nations." (J.W. Smith, The World's Wasted Wealth 2, Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994, pp. 63, 64)
He goes on to show the effects of imports and exports with regards to food production:
"The United States lent governments money to buy this food, and then enforced upon them the extraction and export of their natural resources to pay back the debt...
"Not only is much U.S. food exported unnecessary, but it results in great harm to the very people they profess to be helping. The United States exported over sixty million tons of grain in 1974. Only 3.3 million tons were for aid, and most of that did not reach the starving. For example, during the mid-1980s, 84 percent of U.S. agricultural exports to Latin America were given to the local governments to sell to the people. This undersold local producers, destroyed their markets, and reduced their production.
"Exporting food may be profitable for the exporting country, but when their land is capable of producing adequate food, it is a disaster to the importing countries. [Note that many of the poor nations today are rich in natural resources and arable land.] American farmers would certainly riot if 60 percent of their markets were taken over by another country. Not only would the farmers suffer, but the entire economy would be severely affected.
"Imported food is not as cheap as it appears. If the money expended on imports had been spent within the local economy, it would have multiplied several times as it moved through the economy contracting local labor (the multiplier effect) ...
"This moving of money through an economy is why there is so much wealth in a high-wage manufacturing and exporting country and so little within a low-wage country that is dependent on imports. With centuries of mercantilist experience, developed societies understand this well.
"... [S]ubsidies, tariffs and other trade policies eliminate the comparative advantage of other regions to maintain healthy economies in the developed world. ... The result of these First World subsidies [for export] are shattered Third World economies." (J.W. Smith, The World's Wasted Wealth 2, Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994, pp. 66-67)
Even where developing countries are successful in exporting cash crops to the North, no land is left to grow food to feed the domestic population, and starvation quickly follows:
Anuradha Mittal, of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, writes:
"The victims of free market dogma can be found all over the developing world. An estimated 43 percent of the rural population of Thailand now lives below the poverty line, even though agricultural exports grew an astounding 65 percent between 1985 and 1995. In Bolivia, following half a decade of the most spectacular agricultural export growth in its history, by 1990, 95 percent of the rural population earned less than a dollar a day. In the Philippines, as acreage under rice and corn declines and the area under "cut flowers" increases, 350,000 rural livelihoods are set to be destroyed.
"Similarly, in Brazil during the 1970s, agricultural exports,
particularly soybeans (almost all of which went to feed Japanese and European
livestock), were boosted phenomenally. At the same time, however, the hunger
of Brazilians spread from one-third of the population in the 1960s to two-thirds
by the early 1980s. Even in the 1990s, as Brazil became the world's third
largest agricultural exporter -- the area planted to soybeans having grown
37 percent from 1980 to 1995, displacing forests and small farmers in the
process -- per capita production of rice, a basic staple of the Brazilian
diet, fell by 18 percent." (Anuradha Mittal, Land Loss, Poverty and Hunger,
December 3, 2001)
Anuradha Mittal said in an interview:
"Of the 830 million hungry people worldwide, a third of them live in India. Yet in 1999, the Indian government had 10 million tons of surplus food grains: rice, wheat, and so on. In the year 2000, that surplus increased to almost 60 million tons - most of it left in the granaries to rot. Instead of giving the surplus food to the hungry, the Indian government was hoping to export the grain to make money. It also stopped buying grain from its own farmers, leaving them destitute. The farmers, who had gone into debt to purchase expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the advice of the government, were now forced to burn their crops in their fields.
"At the same time, the government of India was buying grain from Cargill and other American corporations, because the aid India receives from the World Bank stipulates that the government must do so. This means that today India is the largest importer of the same grain it exports. It doesn't make sense - economic or otherwise.
"This situation is not unique to India. In 1985, Indonesia
received the gold medal from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization for
achieving food self-sufficiency. Yet by 1998, it had become the largest
recipient of food aid in the world. I participated in a fact-finding mission
to investigate Indonesia's reversal of fortune. Had the rains stopped?
Were there no more crops in Indonesia? No, the cause of the food insecurity
in Indonesia was the Asian financial crisis. Banks and industries were
closing down. In the capital of Jakarta alone, fifteen thousand people
lost their jobs in just one day. Then, as I traveled to rural areas, I
saw rice plants dancing in field after field, and I saw casava and all
kinds of fruits. There was no shortage of food, but the people were too
poor to buy it. So what did the U.S. and other countries, like Australia,
do? Smelling an opportunity to unload their own surplus wheat in the name
of "food aid," they gave loans to Indonesia upon the condition that it
buy wheat from them. And Indonesians don't even eat wheat." - Anuradha
Remember the much-publicized famine in Ethiopia during the 1980s? Many of us don't realize that, during that famine, Ethiopia was exporting green beans to Europe.
USAID AND POPULATION CONTROL
On its website, USAID openly announces that its aims for recipient countries include "Reduced fertility rate and improved maternal and child health", which translates as contraception. US Congress approved the use of USAID funds for contraception programmes in recipient nations. But critics of USAID and other Northern aid agencies claim that these single-minded contraception programmes are rife with abuses of human rights and medical ethics. These critics famously include a 1995 BBC Horizon programme, detailed below.
The most common allegations include
- Failure to provide cheap basic medical supplies in favour of mountains of contraceptives
- Coercion of women into contraception
- Refusal to remove IUDs and contraceptive implants that are causing severe side-effects
- Unethical and inhumane treatment of Third World women used as "guinea pigs" in contraceptive trials.
It is wrong to deny people in developing countries access to contraceptives, and one can understand the brutal logic of aid programmes designed to reduce the numbers of hungry mouths to feed. But medical workers have condemned the massive imbalance of medical supplies that mean that adults and children still die unnecessarily of readily treatable diseases in the shadow of piles of USAID-funded contraceptive pills, contraceptive implants, condoms, "morning after" drugs, and IUDs. In the case of contraceptive implants and IUDs, critics allege that the lack of medical infrastructure means women are suffering illness and death resulting from side-effects and improper and inappropriate use.
There are also reports of the coercion of women into sterilisation. Such programmes are, according to the first story below, sponsored by North-dominated aid agencies, among them USAID. In many cases, aid agencies withhold other more basic sorts of assistance unless recipient governments agree to implement population control programmes dictated by the agencies.
[Note: in deference to the pro-life Christian right, the Clinton and Bush Senior administrations passed bills forbidding the use of American aid for surgical abortions and sterilisation in foreign countries; but the EU made up the shortfall for sterilisation; and "morning after" pills, which cause early abortion, are widely available in US-funded programmes.]
The first article included below is written by a doctor who has worked in African clinics. Please don’t be put off if your world view differs from that of the writer, a Christian pro-life anti-abortion campaigner. Whatever one’s views on contraception, abortion and women’s right to choose, the alleged breaches of basic human rights and medical ethics and the neo-colonialist assumptions on the part of aid "donor" nations speak for themselves. This, and the articles that follow, have led some critics of Northern aid agencies to the conclusion that they are pursuing an agenda of reduction below-replacement-rate, or even eradication, of the populations of the South - at the same time that fertility programmes are promoted and funded in the North.
A few years ago, I was working on a mobile clinic in western Kenya. Returning from one of our many tours, we found a desperately sick woman lying across the road. Her condition was critical so we drove her to the nearest government hospital, five hours away. When we arrived she was too weak to walk, so I carried her into the reception room, shoving the cows aside. Because the doctor was in the local bar - drunk - we decided to speak with the pharmacist, a kindly man whose pharmacy contained nothing beyond a bottle of penicillin and 75,000 condoms from the US Agency for International Development. There were no gloves, no syringes, no vitamins, no basic medical supplies ... but 75,000 condoms from USAID.
That first contact with population control intrigued me, and led me to dig a little. And the more I dug, the more I came to realise that the population control programme is really a ruthless campaign, inspired by racism, eugenics and Western economic interests, against poorer, darker peoples - especially women - of the developing South.
At its origin the programme's racist motives were blatant. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood in the 1920s, spoke openly of 'inferior races' who were 'overrunning the human garden like weeds,' and the need to sterilise the 'genetically inferior', especially the 'mass of Negroes particularly in the South.' Her words echoed what has been said so often about the 'feckless poor' on this side of the Atlantic.
Outrage at the Holocaust forced the movement to go underground - or, rather, change its tune. By the 1960s the talk was all about global over-population. In his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich predicted that by the 1970s hundreds of millions would be starving to death. Worldwide disaster was inevitable unless fertility rates at home and abroad were drastically reduced.
Meanwhile other population controllers painted apocalyptic pictures of the world running out of copper, tin, gold, natural gas, petrol, etc in a few years.
None of this came true. Food production more than kept pace with population growth (indeed, one of our world's major problems today is over-production of food) and supply of raw materials has so outstripped demand that prices have not risen, but dropped. [Editor’s note: renewable energy and sustainable, closed-loop farming and manufacturing processes would render obsolete the panic over finite supplies of raw materials]
Moreover, the population lobby had completely misunderstood (or misrepresented) the cause of the population 'explosion' which they spoke about so luridly. The principal cause of population growth was not any increase in birth rates but a huge decline in infant mortality and increased life expectancy, thanks to recent medical advances. As an expert said, the growth occurred 'not because human beings started breeding like rabbits but rather because they finally stopped dying like flies.' World population growth was a sign of progress, not failure, therefore. And though the world total will reach perhaps 7.3 billion by the 2030s, thereafter it will decline sharply. As René Bel explained at the last British LIFE National Conference, we face a worldwide population collapse - implosion rather than explosion.
So the population lobby adopted another tactic. Echoing Malthus, they claimed that growth inevitably leads to increasing poverty. This is patently untrue, as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan can testify. The West's own past shows clearly that economic expansion was stimulated by population growth.
Doomladen population controllers see people as problems rather than problem-solvers, consumers rather than producers, liabilities rather than assets. They wrongly assume that wealth is finite and that the more people there are, the less will go to individuals. Then, piggy-backing on the environmental movement, they have preached more doom and gloom: only desperate birth control measures could save rare species, rain forests, the ozone layer, etc., they declared.
But this is over-simple. In a desolate area of Kenya, for instance, population growth was the spur to highly efficient terracing, soil cultivation and tree planting. In Nepal, depopulation caused mountain agriculture and tree planting to decline. The fatalistic assumption that the earth's fragile ecological balance will inevitably be upset by population growth is simply untrue. It is greed, not growth, which does the greatest damage.
Recently the population controllers have developed a new ploy. They claim that family planning programmes are needed to protect women's 'reproductive health' and 'women's rights'.
The truth is that, throughout the developing world women want large families. In Nigeria, for instance, traditional celebrations are held for a woman on the birth of her tenth child. We are told: 'It is the greatest honour a woman can earn.' Children are symbols of wealth and reason for rejoicing - and in many parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America large families make economic sense.
It is not just that Western aid programmes often trample on local cultural values. As my experience in that Kenyan hospital showed, that aid is often failing women badly. Thousands die of malaria whose treatment costs a few pence, while the clinics are stocked to the roof with millions of dollars' worth of pills, IUDs, Norplant and Depo-Provera. Doctors have cases of contraceptives but no penicillin to treat children dying of pneumonia.
It has been estimated that what USAID spends on population control could save 2 million children each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. In Uganda, Vietnam and Nepal many more people now have access to contraceptives than to safe water.
So the West spends millions on distributing abortifacient pills among women in developing countries but many do not have a glass of clean water with which to swallow them.
Invited to wartorn Kosovo the UNFPA immediately set up abortion clinics and started propagandising for smaller families, thus helping the Serbs to do what they had hitherto failed to achieve: namely, pacification of the region by reducing the Albanian population. What the region really needed was food, clothing and basic medicines.
In the developing countries there has usually been a different twist to the story: Western aid has been available only on condition that population control measures were implemented. So governments of the poorest countries, desperate for basic help, have been blackmailed into allowing the IPPF and the others a free hand. Alas, an increasing number of those governments, corrupted from within, have succumbed easily to this pressure.
But just consider what really happens to women's rights when the population controllers get to work.
In India sterilisation squads rounded up people and sterilised them against their will. In Peru we hear of women receiving food for their under-nourished children only if they consented to being sterilised. Sometimes no consent is given. Victoria Espinoza, for example, a Peruvian woman, had gone to her local hospital to deliver her baby. Tragically, the baby boy died shortly after birth. Yet Victoria was nevertheless determined to have another baby - until she discovered that her doctor had secretly sterilised her. 'When I heard that,' she said, 'something deep in my heart broke. Now there is a terrible hole inside.'
In Indonesia obstinate women have had IUDs inserted at gunpoint. From Bangladesh, the Philippines, Haiti and Sri Lanka come repeated reports of women being refused food and medical treatment unless they consented to sterilisation.
In Brazil, 7.5 million women have been sterilised, many against their will. In Mexico government doctors will tie a woman's tubes - with or without consent - after delivery of her third child. Programmes like these make many women reluctant to accept official medical care or even food. There is such fear in Mexico, for instance, that government medical personnel are sterilising women without their consent that, it is reported, Mexicans avoid government clinics. In the Sudan, an aid worker found women refusing milk (and most other food) because they were frightened that it had been laced with sterilising agents. 'They preferred to die in their tents.'
And then, of course, there are the horrendous stories about the one-child policy in China. Women are being forcibly aborted even at 9 months and sterilised. Officials will fine families out of existence if they break the one-child rule and even burn down their houses. There is a reign of terror in the countryside. Frightened women go into hiding or throw their forbidden babies into ditches.
All this is supported directly or indirectly by agencies like USAID, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and United Nations Fund for Population Activities. They supply the drugs and IUDs and equipment. They set up abortion units. They teach local people how to sterilise and insert IUDs and abort.
Millions of pounds (£20 million from the UK alone) are donated by Western countries and Japan to IPPF; UNFPA, etc., every year. Even the Irish government is now contributing generously. And when President Bush halted federal funding of foreign abortion and sterilisation programmes, the European Union dipped into its coffers to make good the shortfall.
In Brazil the sterilisation programme targeted the poorest women mainly those of African descent. In Peru, it was the poor, indigenous Quechua-speaking Indians of the Andes who bore the brunt of the government's population campaign. According to human rights activist Giulia Tamayo Leon, 'In rural areas, health workers persecute people. They enter their homes. Some women tell us they have to hide. They are told they are animals for bearing so many children.' Not surprisingly, the programme spawned growing resentment among Peru's six million Quechua-speaking indigenous people. 'They want to exterminate our race,' said one Quechua woman.
Western-funded programmes generate similar resentment. 'How come there is money for contraceptive pills and billions are being poured into the [population control] system, and there's no money for anything else? Isn't it genocide?' asks Dr Margaret Ogola, a Kenyan doctor.
Western politicians and media are quick enough to denounce human rights abuses, when it suits them, in other countries, but are heedless of what the Western-funded population control programme is doing to millions of the poorest and most defenceless of women. What is even more sickening is the silence of most Western feminists in the face of mass violation of basic human rights of millions of their sisters in developing countries. They do nothing while helpless women are called animals and treated like them - and forcibly mutilated. Not only are they silent: worse, in the name of advancing 'reproductive health' - which is the code for contraceptive, sterilisation and abortion programmes - they are actively promoting it.
The truth is that the vast sums pumped into population control each year have not produced dramatic improvement in living standards or economic development. Vietnam, Bangladesh and much of Latin America bear witness to that fact. Nor have they produced political stability. Aggressive population control policies have caused dramatic social unrest in India and Kenya, for example.
What USAID, IPPF, UNFPA and the rest have done is to make war against the poorer, darker populations of the developing world and to ensure that fewer African, Asian and Latin American babies have been born. Western governments spend millions on all this; some like Germany and France (a major contributor) are at the same time doing all they can to promote childbearing at home.
The unspoken truth is that the big world players like the USA, Western Europe and Japan view with alarm the prospect of larger populations in the developing world. They want to maintain their dominance and to curb future rivals like China. They are fearful of increased migration, major changes in the existing balance of power and in the control of natural resources. Racism and eugenics go hand in hand with economic self-interest.
(Princeton & Oxford-trained Dr Mary Haynes is an American
prolifer with wide international experience. This is a shortened version
of her paper given at the LIFE National Conference 2001 published in Life
News, Issue no. 36 Spring 2001 (25p), Newbold Terrace, Leamington
Spa, CV32 4EA)
Extracts from the transcript of the Horizon programme:
NARRATOR: [In Haiti] Just as in Bangladesh, a pattern
emerged where it was sometimes difficult for the women to get the Norplant
removed. Catherine Maternowska believed local clinics were under pressure
to keep women in the trial to make the data look good.
PROF. BETSY HARTMANN: At the highest levels in Washington, population growth in the Third World has long been perceived as a national security threat. During the Cold War, of course, public fear and paranoia often focused on the nuclear bomb and in the post-Cold War period we're having the population bomb re-emerging as a threat. Now we're fearing these Third World peoples. Does this mean that you promote Norplant like a weapon in the war against population growth? Colleagues and I have looked through declassified documents and have found, much to our horror, that at the highest levels of government this has been an obsession. There is a national security memorandum, for example, which talked about the great need to control population growth in places like Brazil and the big countries and how this population was a definite national security threat.
FARIDA AKHTER: We are for family planning, but this is not happening. External agencies - the government, the international aid agencies - they decide what method we should have, how many children we should have, and then they decide even what kind of contraceptive we should have, and then they dump on us all the rejected ones, new ones they test on our bodies and woman have no control over it.
FARIDA AKHTER: One woman when she begged to remove it, they said 'I'm dying, please help me get it out'. They said 'OK, when you die you inform us, we'll get it out of your dead body', so this is the way they were treated.
AMY POLLACK: If we fail to recognise the human rights of women in developing countries in terms of testing contraceptives and using contraceptives, then we will lose all of the methods around. Women will deny themselves family planning methods because they will consider it all of the time an experiment, and they will never trust the support that they're getting from outside of their own country. That's a risk that we take.
DR STEPHEN MUMFORD: I've just completed a book and George Bush was just leaving the directorship of the CIA at that time. George Bush read the synopsis again, which said over-population is a graver threat to US security than the nuclear threat. George Bush says I agree with everything you're saying here in this synopsis and I can assure you that the people at the CIA agree with you too, so at that point I knew that at the highest levels of our government this issue was being discussed.
NARRATOR: The trials were developed with funds from the US Agency for International Development.
DR NILS DAULAIRE [for USAID]: We have very strict rules at AID in terms of any experimentation that's done that certain ethical standards in terms of human subjects have to be met, and informed consent is a critical part of that. I've not been made personally aware of any serious lapses in terms of informed consent of any of the AID trials. If there are cases where women were not accorded the opportunity to have Norplant removed, that would be a very serious breach and if this was done with US aid funds, we would take that extremely seriously.
INTERVIEWER: Well it has been done with US funds it appears, and we have interviewed many women who had problems getting it removed. How can this be, with a clinical trial which you're running with American taxpayers' money?
NILS DAULAIRE: Well I can't answer that specific clinical
trial because that's one that I'm not personally familiar with.
USAID is behind a move to deliver water hitherto treated as a global commons - into the hands of multinational corporations. In 1999, Indian activist Vandana Shiva exposed plans by Monsanto to take over the ownership of water, beginning in poorer countries suffering droughts. This trend is often defended by corporations and their government flunkeys as a move to "safeguard" precious water supplies. It is certainly an impeccable way to safeguard profits. Owning water is a logical step on from patenting and owning seeds for food crops (in order to eat, you have to pay Monsanto/Dow/Bayer etc, year after year after year). What could be a more reliable system for profit-making than owning water, so that every time the people drink, they have to pay? A drought becomes less a humanitarian disaster, more an opportunity to jack up prices and make a killing.
South Africa Independent Media Center
Shady USAID exposed as setting up South African privatisation agency in disguise
by PSI o Tuesday August 20, 2002 at 08:14 AM
Water multinationals admit they cannot deliver to the poor Startling research reveals that American consultancy set up and funds South Africa’s Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit (MIIU).
Public Services International Press Statement Tuesday 20th August 2002 11am
The Public Services International (PSI) is concerned that the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) has not come out strongly against water privatisation. New research from the PSI’s Research Unit, based at the University of Greenwich in London reveals that the water multinationals privatising water in the developing world are dogged by corruption, close to financial collapse and have long track records of exploiting the poor.
What is worse is that South Africa's Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit (MIIU) is now revealed to have been set up by USAID through a private consultancy called PADCO! The MIIU has always been touted by the South African government as a Section 21 government owned unit which aims "to help municipalities find innovative solutions to critical problems with the financing and management of essential municipal services such as water supply, sanitation, waste, energy, transport."
Yet not only is the MIIU little more than a local front organisation for USAID, but through PADCO, the MIIU is also part of a newly established shady international organisation of water multinationals as members. The MIIU has in fact been secretly funded by the USAID to spread false information aimed at convincing the public and government officials that the best option for South Africa's public water is privatisation.
PADCO: a USAID funded company which secretly set up and funds MIIU
On 21st March 2002 multinationals held a private meeting where they created an organisation called "Partners in Africa for Water and Sanitation (PAWS)" specifically to discuss privatisation of water and sanitation in South Africa, Nigeria, and Uganda. The meeting came out with a confidential document that PSI obtained a copy of: this document, prepared by a USA consultancy called PADCO, was solely aimed at persuading South African municipalities that privatisation of water is not a bad idea.
Just one month before this, in February 2002, an internal newsletter of another private consultancy company, RTI, revealed that "RTI and PADCO created the MIIU as a nonprofit company, with its own CEO and Board of Directors, and began laying a foundation for a mature financial market that will facilitate the flow of private capital into municipal infrastructure projects".
The document revealed that PADCO’s objectives are to "help MIIU to maintain a pro-private stance in the internal South African debate." USAID has financed PADCO to do much else with infrastructure finance in South Africa. PADCO describes themselves as "providing long- and short-term technical assistance to the MIIU to support the creation of a sustainable framework for private infrastructure investment in the Republic of South Africa."
PADCO also organised a funded world jamboree for 12 South African officials to observe privatisation of water in South America and Australia. They gave out false information, such as the surprising claim that "Global competition for transparent competitive tenders in the water sector is fierce", whereas only two multinationals dominate the world’s water supply!
The PADCO report and detailed critique can be obtained
from PSI. Main areas of concern:
· Privatisation policies are frequently introduced on the basis of consultant reports that were intended to remain secret. This practice hinders democratic debate, leads to bad quality reports and bad advice. Flawed assumptions remain unchallenged, inadequate evidence is not critically evaluated, incompetent work is not exposed, alternative policy options are submerged.
· Yet secrecy is the normal environment for consultants reports on water privatisation. When they do emerge into the light of day, the contents may look less impressive. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) produced a report on water privatisation for the Austrian government in 2001. It was initially secret, then leaked, and finally officially released. The problems with the report included: inaccurate and incomplete data, unsustainable assumptions, and failure to recognise the importance of local factors. Ernst & Young, commissioned to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in India, was caught simply copying another organisation’s EIA from another project. This was identified by an NGO, the Environmental Support Group of Bangalore, which published the evidence on its website.
· The PADCO report has a very restricted view of opposition to water privatisation, naming only USA trade unions, South African trade unions, PSI, and research units including PSIRU and Ilrig (a South African research unit) as critical. Studies reveal that there is, in fact, organised resistance to privatisation of water by movements in Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, South Africa, Paraguay, Poland, Argentina, France, Bolivia, Germany, Mauritius, USA, Canada, Panama, Trinidad, Honduras, Hungary, Sweden. This includes environmentalists, consumer groups, citizens organisations, and even elected politicians frustrated by conditionalities. Brazil’s Frente Nacional pelo Saneamento Ambiental [National Front for Environmental Sanitation] brings together 17 entities of civil society against privatisation. Once again, a case of false information.
The PSI and SAMWU will be exposing the PADCO report and the dubious behaviour of the water multinationals and their international consultant cohorts throughout the WSSD.
PSI’s other research into the water multinationals also reveals disturbing new trends.
World domination by only two companies - warned about anti-competitive behaviour
The water business is dominated by the two largest French multinationals, Suez and Vivendi, who between them hold about 70% of the international privatized water business. Both were warned of anti-competitive behaviour in France in July this year when the French competition council ruled that they had been abusing their market dominance in France, where they control 85% of the private water. The two companies have created joint subsidiaries in 12 areas, sharing the profits of a water concession instead of competing against each other. The council also said that since June 1997 more than 40 tenders had been made uncompetitive by the groups’ behaviour.
Multinational which privatised water of Dolphin Coast, KZN, admits private companies cannot deliver to the poor
In January 2002, J.F. Talbot, CEO of SAUR International (fourth largest water company in the world) told the World Bank that the private sector could not deliver for the poor. He said instead that the private sector did not have the financial capacity: "The scale of the need far out-reaches the financial and risk taking capacities of the private sector." He also said that developing countries were unrealistic in attempting European standards in developing countries such as the demand for "connections for all"… even though the multinationals who privatise always cite their good track record in Europe.
He also rejected the possibility of cost recovery from users, saying that in developing countries "service users can’t pay for the level of investments required for social projects, and that even the US and Europe subsidise water services. He concluded that without subsidies and soft loans from governments (which say they don’t have the money so they have to privatise) there is no scope for privatisation of water by multinationals
Water multinational prosecuted for supplying contaminated water to the poor
Vivendi, which attempted to privatise Johannesburg’s water, lost another contract this year this time in Puerto Rico. Its large Brazilian water venture Sanepar, which serves 7 million people in the Brazilian state of Parana was prosecuted for supplying contaminated water and it is being investigated over alleged financial irregularities.
In Argentina, there are serious problems since the economic crisis. Privatised water was based on protecting the multinationals, with prices indexed to the US dollar. Following Argentina's default on the external debt, a new law on "Public Emergency and Reform of the Exchange Regime" provided for the renegotiation of private water contracts. But the multinationals have ignored this law. Instead, Suez and Aguas de Barcelona have since called in the French and Spanish governments to represent them. In February 2002, the management of Aguas Argentinas and the French ambassador met the vice Minister of Economy to inform him that they were unilaterally suspending a number of obligations, including the investment objectives in the contract renegotiated as recently as January 2001.
Poor consumers are paying the price whereas if water had remained public there would have been no downgrading of delivery of this vital human right under the same circumstances.
More and more corruption convictions
Vivendi was convicted of corruption three times in last year alone, for offences such as bribery and donations to political parties. The energy subsidiary of Suez, Tractebel, is currently under investigation for alleged bribery in connection with electricity privatisations in Kazakhstan and Peru. The research found that the economic function of a bribe is to provide a financial inducement for an official/politician/public authority to act in the interests of the company rather than the public interest which he/she/it is supposed to represent.
The research concludes that:
· The multinational corporations’ interest in water and sanitation services is defined purely by their shareholders’ interest, their return on capital and the risks involved.
· With less than a decade of experience with water privatisation in developing countries, the corporations are now experiencing financial problems which must lead them to question their financial interest in continuing
· Governments of developing countries need to examine the true long-term costs of giving the corporations protection from currency risks, political risks and demand risks. There needs to be a public process of comparing any private proposals with public alternatives, as part of an open public debate.
· There remains a constant danger that extending privatisation will extend the opportunities for corruption.
According to private corporation PADCO’s website, PADCO
is looking into "More Projects in Privatization of Urban services and utility
restructuring", funded by USAID, in Albania, Armenia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine.
The US is a signatory of the 1999 Food Aid Convention, which recognises that food aid should be bought from the most cost effective source, be culturally acceptable and if possible purchased locally so that regional markets do not suffer. Despite this...
Dr Wilma Salgado, a former consultant to the World
Food Programme in Ecuador points out that US food assistance to Ecuador
has nearly wiped out the country's local production of wheat and rendered
it dependent on wheat imports from the US, thus threatening its food security
while creating a market for US exports. Dr Salgado writes, "The injustice
called "food assistance" constitutes yet another example of the so common
double language used by the United States for its economic interests. "Food
assistance" in reality is a support to its own farmers to expand their
market, just as the strongly promoted "free trade" in third countries has
enabled them to expand their (US) market. At the same time the US has increased
its non-tariff barriers to limit the import of products that could compete
on the US market."
Dr Wilma Salgado, Food assistance or export assistance? (translated from Spanish)
"I have heard . . . that people may become dependent on
us for food. I know that was not supposed to be good news. To me that was
good news, because before people can do anything they have got to eat.
And if you are looking for a way to get people to lean on you and to be
dependent on you, in terms of their cooperation with you, it seems to me
that food dependence would be terrific."
Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, in naming US Public Law 480 which ensures that food aid never interferes with "domestic production or marketing" (Wall Street Journal, May 7, 1982)
The problems go wider than food aid...
"Dodgy industries selling dubious wares have long headed
for the Third World when their activities have been questioned in the West.
The biotech industry has been following this well-trodden path ever since
consumers in Europe turned against GM food and crops. And these wares have
had unprecedented backing from the US government, which has relentlessly
bullied reluctant governments in developing countries to accept them."
Independent on Sunday, Leading Article: ‘GM by the back door’
"Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous
road, creating the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine.
Ownership and control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based
on too few varieties of crops planted widely are the worst option for food
Christian Aid report: "Biotechnology and GMOs"
FIND OUT MORE - READ THE REPORT:
or Fooling the World - Can GM really feed the hungry?'
download (as a pdf file) the Five Year Freeze's new report (October 2002)
more quotes on GMOs and the Third World
feeding the world