Why do Developing Countries have so many Health Problems?

Health and Development is one of the aspects of development students taking the global development option for A-level sociology have to study…

There are a number of fairly obvious explanations as to why low income countries face poor health conditions.  

Lack of an improved water source

Hundreds of millions of people in sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia especially, mostly living in rural areas, rely on water from local streams and rivers, which is often contaminated with disease spreading parasites, which are ingested and then cause diarrhoea – resulting in hundreds of thousands of death each year from the resulting malnutrition and dehydration.

Poor Sanitation

This is responsible for the spread of diarrhoeal diseases – living in close proximity to open sewers full of human and animal waste products exposes one to a host of disease pathogens

Malnutrition

Nearly a billion people in the world are malnourished – this is one of the leading causes of child mortality.

Underdeveloped public health services

In the developed world there is 1 doctor for every 520 people, in the developing world there is one doctor for every 15 000 people. In rural areas, hospitals are spread so far apart that pregnant women often find it a practical impossibility to get to one for child birth.

War and Conflict

Some countries, most notably Somalia and Afghanistan, are currently in conflict – obviously this increases the likelihood of people getting injured and puts additional strain on a countries economic and health care resources.

Poverty

All of the above are ultimately linked to underlying poverty – as emphasised by Hans Rosling in his various videos.

Patriarchy and Traditional values

  • Modernisation Theorists emphasise the internal cultural values of developing countries that can act as barriers to improving life expectancy etc.
  • Patriarchal traditions may prevent money being spent on training midwives and providing maternity resources which could help reduce deaths in pregnancy 
  • Patriarchy and religious values may prevent contraception use – which is linked to the spread of HIV in Sub Saharan Africa

Environmental Factors

  • Jeffrey Sachs also points out that Environmental Factors also play a role – simply put, Mosquitos, which spread Malaria, responsible for 5% of deaths in low income countries, are especially partial to the conditions in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Related Posts

You might also like this post: strategies for improving health in developing countries. Link to follow.

Theories of Development applied to Health

As a genera rule, people in developing countries suffer from poorer health than people in developed countries – with higher rates of deaths from preventable causes resulting in higher child mortality rates and lower life expectancies.

Theories of development aim to explain why this is the case and what the most effective solutions to improving health should be.

Modernisation Theory

Modernization Theorists would expect health patterns of developing countries to follow those of the developed world in the past. They believe that developing countries are entering the ‘epidemiological transition’ associated with economic development and rising GDP

Before the transition, infectious diseases are widespread and are the major causes of death; life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. With Industrialisation, urbanisation and economic growth come improvements in nutrition, hygiene and sanitation which lead to falling death rates from infectious diseases. After the transition, health improves.

It follows that the best way for developing countries to improve the health of the nation is to focus on industrialization, urbanization and economic growth. Improvements in health should follow.

Modernisation Theorists also argue that targeted aid can play a role in improving the health of developing nations

This can mainly be done through ‘Selective biomedical intervention’ – Such as mass immunization against disease, or distributing vitamin supplements to populations, or handing out mosquito nets.  One of the best examples of this is the work of the Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation work on combatting Malaria, the reduction of which has been one the great success stories of the last decade.

The eradication of Smallpox is a good example of this strategy working:

One limitation of using selective biomedical intervention is that theexpense means that it is difficult to maintain, and, where the distribution of mosquito nets is concerned, this may lead to choking off local entrepreneurs, as Dambisa Moyo argued in ‘Dead Aid’.

Dependency Theory

Dependency Theory points out that attempts by developing countries to improve health may actually be hindered by the West

Firstly, if you remember, Dependency Theorists point out that it is exploitation by developed countries that keep developing countries poor and they receive very little income from their dealings in world trade which means there is little money left over for investment in health care. 

Secondly, there is the problem of the ‘brain drain’ from the developing to the developed world. At least one in ten doctors in the west has been poached from the developing world – it is obviously much more appealing for people in Africa and Asia to work in Britain where they can receive several times the salary they would in their native country.

Thirdly, Many African companies have had to pay high costs for pharmaceuticals manufactured by Western corporations. This is especially true of AIDS drugs. Western companies are thus accused of exploiting desperate people in Africa.

Finally, some Transnational Corporations have actually contributed to health problems through selling products that would not be regarded as safe in the West, not to mention polluting in the pursuit of profit. 

Relevance to A Level Sociology

The education topic is part of the Global Development option, usually taught in the second year of the course. For more posts about Global Development, please click here.

Urbanisation and Development

Urbanisation refers to the growth of cities, typically involving the movement of populations from rural areas.

The post considers some of the perspectives on urbanisation and development. This topic is relevant to the Global Development option within A-level sociology.

The world is rapidly urbanising

The introduction to the video below provides a nice overview of the process…

Improving the quality of urban life is Sustainable Development Goal number 11.

Modernisation Theory – Urbanisation promotes development

Modernisation Theorists argued that urbanization had an overall positive impact on developing countries. They argued that cities are better environments to promote positive economic and social change compared to the correspondingly ‘backward’ traditional rural (countryside) communities. 

How cities can promote development?

  1. Giving a boost to economic growth – Cities attract Industrial-Capitalists into setting up factories because they give them access to a large pool of labour. The wages paid to factory workers then trickle down to other city services.
  2. Cities can also play a positive role in cultural social change – They encourage the emergence of a new entrepreneurial middle class who aspire to modern lifestyles
  3. Cities also weaken the ties of individuals to families in rural areas which challenges and overcomes the traditional values of collectivism and patriarchy.
  4. Finally, Cities can promote development because it is easier for governments to establish health care and education in areas with dense populations compared to the more dispersed populations found in rural areas.

Dependency Theorists see Urbanisation as primarily benefitting the wealthy.

The last 30 years has seen the emergence of dozens of truly ‘global cities’ – London, Cairo, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio –globally interconnected via satellite communications and air-transport networks, with exclusive shops, housing and entertainment, but only actually available to the relatively well off – the minority.

Increasing amounts of urban poor work in low-paid service sector jobs, hidden away in sub-standard housing, just about earning a ‘living wage’. Also, an ever increasing amount of developing countries’ economies become oriented to developing infrastructure in the city for the benefit of middle classes, tourists = Olympic and Football stadiums, rather than improving the lives of the majority in the more rural areas.

Dependency Theorists also point out the Modernisation idea of Industrialisation leading to Urbanisation and development is a myth. What actually happens with Urbanisation is that there are too few jobs available for people who flood to new urban centres and huge amounts of unemployed people in slums come to form an urban underclass – which is actually beneficial to TNCs as this enables them to keep the wages of the unemployed low. Marxists like to think that this concentration of masses of disempowered people may have the potential for revolution. Dependency theorists point out that this is unlikely, however, as a lot of state power in the developing world is oriented towards suppressing this potential for revolution.

Problems associated with rapid Urbanisation

There are several problems associated with rapid urbanisation as infrastructure development cannot keep pace with the influx of people. Some of the problems are explored in the video below.

There is also an issue with covid-19: the overcrowding and lack of infrastructure (for hand washing for example) also make it more difficult to combat the spread of Pandemics, such as Covid-19, in slums.

There are also positives of ‘slum living’

Some ‘slums’ involve local people innovating to ensure their areas are liveable in….

This is a brief ‘starter’ post on Urbanisation, many updates to follow!

How is Coronavirus Affecting Developing Countries?

It is worth distinguishing first of all between the negative health effects of the virus itself and the negative effects of government lockdowns. The severity of lockdowns and the capacity to enforce them vary from country to country, and so the consequences of this politically imposed response to the pandemic will vary greatly across countries.

EVEN IF the stats are unreliable, governments the world over have responded with lockdown measures in response to public concern, which has very real consequences.

Lockdowns are pushing people into poverty, hunger and children are being pulled out of school

This brief report from the ODI puts a human face on the consequences of Covid-19. They provide a case study of one woman in Nairobi, Kenya, who was eating three meals a day and sending her children to school pre-lockdown.

However, lockdown forced the shutdown of her street food stall and now she is eating one meal a day, the children are meal sharing at another household and she doesn’t have the money to send them back to school.

Coronavirus has pushed another 71 million people into extreme poverty

The World Bank estimates that 71 million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty in 2021 as a result of coronavirus, an increase of 0.5% and taking the total to nearly 9% of the world population, eradicating all progress towards ending extreme poverty since 2017.

A further 170 million people in low to middle income countries will be pushed below the global poverty lines of $3.20 and $5.50 a day.

How covid-19 has affected households in developing countries

Another World Bank report from December 2020 used phone surveys to interview people in IDA (countries qualifying for development assistance, mostly the poorest countries) and non-IDA countries.

The results show that the consequences have generally been harsher for people in developing countries:

  • People in IDA countries are less likely to have stopped working but more likely to have taken cuts in wages.
  • They are more likely to have skipped a meal.
  • Children’s education has suffered much more in IDA countries compared to non-IDA countries
  • Government bail outs are much less common in IDA countries.

This united Nations article suggests that poorer countries lack the capacity to respond to a global pandemic and that coronavirus could create further burdens in those countries having to deal with other major health problems such as aids and malaria.

It further notes that closure of borders will affect those countries reliant on trade, and reduce remittances from abroad (money sent home), reduce migrant labour opportunities and affect those countries which rely on tourism for income.

Covid-19 will increase inequality

A final World Bank report suggests that inequality will increase as a result of Covid-19.

This is based on evidence from how countries have recovered from previous Pandemics.

The theory is that households with resources are better able to weather the negative affects of a downturn, by keeping their children in school for example, and by using savings rather than taking on debt, and so can just ‘carry on’ as normal when economic recover comes, while poorer people are having to play catch up.

It’s explained in this handy infographic:

Those working in the informal sector are hardest hit

This LSE. blog post reminds us that many more people work informally in developed countries – and these people will be the hardest hit by lockdown policies – they are the first to be laid-off when work is reduced and they do not qualify for any government assistance measures either.

Other potential impacts

You should be able to find out about other impacts, such as:

  • In the long term more countries might cut their foreign aid budgets, like Britain has done recently.
  • Charities such as Oxfam are likely to receive less money from the general public.
  • It will be more difficult for migrant labourers to find work because of border restrictions.
  • I dread to think how all of this has affected the movement of refugees!
  • There have probably been more cases of domestic abuse worldwide as a result of lockdowns.
  • Possibly the most devastating long-term affect is the number of days of schooling that children in poorer countries would have missed – low income countries have much less capacity to offer home based, online learning, compared to wealthier countries.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This is mainly relevant to the health and global development topic, but there are also some useful links here to social constructionism and social action theory.

Are there really fewer covid-19 cases in poorer countries?

According to this New York Times heat map, Covid-19 cases seem to be much more prevalent per capita in developed countries compared to developing countries…

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The counts are especially high in America, Europe and South America doesn’t fair too well either.

But the count per capita is much lower in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Analysis from Brookings (source) shows the contrast much more starkly – People in developing countries make up 50% of the world’s population but account for only 2% of covid deaths.

The infographic below shows how many people die from covid (the circle) compared to the other main causes of death – if you look at the left hand side, they are generally poorer countries, on the right, generally richer countries…

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Are there really fewer covid cases and deaths in poorer countries?

Brookings suggests the different may not be as great as the statistics above suggest. Because….

  1. The different age profiles – Covid-19 affects the very old more severely – especially the over 70s – and to put it bluntly there are hardly any people aged over 70 in poorer countries, because of the lower life expectancy, whereas in developed countries have a more older age profile.
  2. Differences in detecting and reporting covid-19 as a cause of death. In developed countries we have much better detection capacity and it’s possible that Covid has been mis-recorded as a cause of death when really, because of co-morbidity, something else was really the cause. While in the developing world people may well be dying of (or with) covid-19 but it hasn’t been traced.

in short, remember that these covid-19 death statistics are a total social construction.

However, the statics may lack validity, but government responses the world over have been severe – and this social reaction has had very real negative consequences in rich and poor countries alike!

Relevance to A-level sociology

This material is mainly relevant to the global development health topic, but there are also some nice links here to the problems with official statistics.

Please click here to return to the main ReviseSociology home page!

How has Coronavirus Affected the UK?

What are the short and long term affects of Coronavirus for the UK’s social and economic development?

in this post I focus on how Coronavirus has affected health (obviously) education, work and employment, as well economic growth prospects.

There are many more consequences I could focus on, but all of the above are specifically on the Global Development module specification as aspects of development for students of A-level sociology to consider.

How has Coronavirus impacted health in the UK?

NB – forgive me if the stats below date pretty quickly, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and I can’t update every post daily!

At time of writing the total number of covid related deaths in the UK has just surpassed 100 000, in the 11 months since recording of covid-deaths began in March 2020.

You can find out the latest figures at this government site.

The Office for National statistics allows you to look at the latest figures for covid-19 infections and covid-19 related deaths, without any of the ‘panic’ aspects (and without the distractions of flashing adverts) of the mainstream media.

The covid-related death rate is three times higher among men working in elementary and service occupations (the working classes) compared to those working in professional and managerial occupations (the upper middle classes)

There has been a reduction in the quality of care for those with other chronic-conditions, because of a combination of the NHS having to cope with covid-cases, and people being reluctant to seek treatment because of the pandemic.

This is an interesting article from the BBC which outlines the possible long term negative effects on mental health of dealing with Covid – including increased anxiety and OCD (hand washing!), loneliness, a sense of meaningless and uncertainty (anomie?) and depression – not least because of so many people having to deal with loss of someone they know among that 100, 000 death toll.

This research adds to above finding that there were statistically fewer people who started cancer treatment in 2020 compared to 2019, probably because of lower test rates due to covid-19.

How has Coronavirus impacted education in the UK?

Lockdown measures meant that students missed several months of in-school education in 202.

This report by the Nuffield Foundation suggests that pupils started school in September 3 months behind as a result of lockdown in 2020. There is also evidence that poorer students suffered more as they were less able to access online learning provision.

Exams were also cancelled in 2020, but GCSE and A-level pupils received better grades than students in previous years, because of the reliance of Teacher Predicted Grades. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case in 2021.

How has Coronavirus impacted work and employment in the UK?

The effects have varied enormously be sector. The service sectors have been hardest hit, with accommodation and food services suffering a 25% downturn by GDP because of the lockdown rules imposed in response to the pandemic.

Education has also taken quite a hit, but I guess the switch to online learning has lessened the impact here.

The impact has generally been a lot less (somewhat obviously) on sectors where it’s easier to work from home, on professional occupations and on rural occupations.

How has Coronavirus impacted economic growth the in the UK?

The UK has seen a projected decline in GDP growth in 2021 of – 12.9%, which is going to take years to recover from and an expected increase in unemployment going forwards into 2021-2024 – with unemployment figures double that what we’d anticipated for these years.

Also note the debt figures shown in the bottom rows – almost £400 bn borrowed in 2020-21 to cover the cost of dealing with the Pandemic. Not exactly small change!

And then the debt repayments as a percentage of our GDP increase from 5% to 15% – meaning the government is going to be spending 20% more for at least the next five years (and probably longer) to pay for the Pandemic!

This probably means cuts to welfare and public services sometime in 2021 or 2022 – given that the government is neoliberal and will be reluctant to raise taxes, also something which is difficult to do when the economy is struggling.

Selected Sources

HM Gov (November 2020) – Analysis of the Health, Economic and Social Consequences of Covid-19

UK Gov – an enquiry into the impact of covid-19 on education

ONS – Coronavirus impact of covid-19 on Higher Education

Fair Trade and Development

Fair Trade is where companies and consumers pay more than the free-market rate for products to ensure that workers receive a decent wage for their products.

Typically this involves consumers in developed countries paying a higher price for agricultural products such as coffee, chocolate and bananas to the workers in developing countries.

The Fair Trade Foundation monitors the production of Fair Trade products, and to qualify for the Fair Trade label workers need to work for a company which ensures several conditions are met including:

  • Workers have decent (safe) working conditions.
  • Workers have the right to join a union and have a say in the process of production.
  • Workers receive a wage that is sufficient to give them a decent quality of life in their country – this usually means enough to pay for the basics and some left over to pay for education for their children, for example.
  • Production is sustainable and not harming the environment

The idea behind Fair Trade is that when workers have decent working conditions and receive enough money to ‘improve’ their lives, this means that trade can work effectively for development.

Fair Trade is very much in line with the principles of People Centred Development.

The Benefits of Fair Trade

The Fair Trade foundation says that 1.6 million farmers across the world are currently benefitting from Fair Trade and there are many, many examples of how Fair Trade is benefitting grass roots farmers in many developing countries.

Fair Trade Coffee…

Coffee is by far the largest Fair Trade export – the video below looks at an example of what I like to think of as ‘extreme Fair Trade’:

It outlines how Fair Trade Coffee importers in Europe work directly with coffee producers in Rwanda, focusing on empowering women into management positions especially.

And they export the coffee on a sailboat, meaning this is zero emission coffee, using a company called Timbercoast.

Fair Trade Cocoa and Chocolate…

Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa exporter, most of it not Fair Trade, but the video below looks at how Fair Trade cocoa works in the country…

Fair Trade Cotton….

The video below outlines the story of Fair Trade Cotton

How Fair Trade can promote development

The main idea behind fair trade is that workers get paid enough to promote social development. The extra money they receive can be used to send their children to school, for example.

Fair Trade does not allow child labour, meaning children should be free to go to school and get an education.

Women and men are treated equally in fair trade projects, so working with fair trade can empower women and tackle traditions of gender inequality.

Finally the sustainability requirements of fair trade means that the process of production won’t undermine the local environment in the long term, promoting sustainable development.

If you’d like to read more about the general advantages of Fair Trade then this is a decent article:10 Ways Fair Trade Helps Advance the Millennium Development Goals

Criticisms and Limitations of Fair Trade as a Strategy for Development

  • The Fair Trade Price Guarantee is a minimum income guarantee – if the market price of, for example, coffee, increases and so the price of the finished coffee increases, there is no guarantee that the workers will receive the higher price.
  • It follows that workers working in regular non fair trade organisations might be better off if there are price spikes in the product they produce.
  • Guaranteeing a minimum income may in fact keep workers trapped in primary product production and discourage them from diversifying into more profitable areas.
  • In the grand scheme of things 1.66 million workers is NOT that many workers – there are BILLIONS of workers in developing countries, even if 10 million workers were benefitting from Fair Trade, that would be less than 1% of the workforce in the developing world!

If you’d like to read more, you might like this article from The Guardian (2017): Fair Trade only Really Benefits Supermarkets.

Relevance to A-level sociology

Fair Trade is an alternative fo Free Trade and is a response to the many criticisms of how trade does not work for development.

Double standards in ‘Free Trade’

Wealthier countries in Europe make extensive use of import taxes to make imported goods more expensive and protect domestic business. At the same time they cajole African countries to sign free trade agreements which prevent them from imposing import taxes on European products which puts local farmers in Africa out of business.

This means that there is double standard in how trade rules are applied and that global trade works to benefit rich countries at the expense of poorer countries.

This is according to an interesting DW documentary called ‘the deceptive promise of free trade’ which suggests that Free trade is not an effective tool for global development.

EU countries imposing tariffs

Wealthy countries such as Germany and Switzerland make extensive use of taxes on imported goods (tariffs) to increase their price and protect domestically produced goods and jobs.

China has one of the most efficient bike manufacturing factories in the world, and mass produces bike more cheaply than any other country, so Germany has put a tax on bikes imported from China so as to protect the German bike manufacturing industry.

It also does the same with bikes manufactured in countries close to China such as Cambodia as bike manufactures in such countries also benefit from cheap parts made China and can produce them almost as cheaply.

As a result of these import tariffs, companies manufacturing bikes in China are able to survive – NB they still import all the parts from China, but they assemble the parts in Germany – it’s only the finished bikes which have an import tax on them.

In contrast the United States which does has not historically taxed bikes manufactured in China has seen all of its American bike production companies go out of business.

Another example of tariffs being used to protect domestic producers is in Switzerland which has the highest wages in Europe – here food production would be unfeasible if it had no import taxes because wages are so much lower in other countries.

However, there is still food produced in Switzerland because of protective tariffs on some products. These are flexible – they are quite low most of the year but during harvest time they increase several times – as with strawberries for example.

Producers in Germany and Switzerland are obviously highly supportive of nationalist protectionist policies. Saying they are good for jobs and the environment.

Free Trade Agreements prevent African countries from imposing tariffs.

In Cameroon, we get to see a local onion farming co-operative which used to produce onions, but has had to stop (and switch to cassava) because of cheaper onions being imported from Europe and flooding the market.

Cameroon is not allowed to raise tariffs further on EU onions because of a free trade agreement it signed with the EU (the EPA agreement).

As a result local farmers are either going out of business or having to switch products, the problem is that the product they switch to might also be undercut by cheaper EU imports in the future – the farm in this documentary is now growing Cassava, which is used to make flour, but there is already a history of cheap imported Wheat flour from the EU undermining local economies in Senegal, so it’s probably only a matter of time

Double Standards in the use of import taxes

It seems that we live in a world where richer countries increasingly ignore the World Trade Organisation and use tariffs to protect their domestic industries from cheaper products produced mainly in China.

While the EU cajoles countries in Africa to sign trade agreeements (probably in return for much smaller sums of development aid) which prevent them from protecting their own domestic food producers from EU agricultural products.

Subsidies also benefit farmers in the EU

The documentary also covers subsidies, showing how EU farmers benefit from government hand-outs which make their goods artificially cheap, a topic also dealt with anther DW documentary.

Relevance to A-level Sociology

This is a crucial update to the ‘free trade topic’, which is a core part of the global development option.

How Europe’s Agricultural Polices Hurt Africa

International trade policies seem to benefit large scale industrial farmers in Europe and hurt smaller scale farmers in Africa.

This is according to a recent 2018 DW documentary which focuses on how Industrial technology, large scale industrial production and European Union Subsidies make EU agricultural products much cheaper than locally produced African agricultural products, despite the much lower wages in Africa.

It is evidence which suggests that the global trade system is not promoting development in Africa – rather it benefits developed countries as they are able to export their cheaper products to poorer countries which undermine local farmers who produce viable alternatives.

The documentary focuses on Wheat produced in Germany and how this ends up being three times cheaper than other flour products such as Cassava which is grown in Senegal.

This is an excellent contemporary piece of research for Trade and development which is one of the main topics in the Global Development option for sociology.

The documentary is perfectly suited for teaching Global Development as it is split into several key sections which contrast agricultural systems in Germany and then Senegal.

Wheat production in Germany

The documentary starts off by visiting a 40 Hectare farm in Germany – the guy who runs it only does it as a side venture as he cannot live off the income he gets from his crop – which is 20 to 22 EU per year, which includes a government subsidy, which makes up 40% of his income.

Wheat exporters

The documentary now goes to the port of Hamburg and interviews a wheat exporter – 40% of Germany’s wheat is exported and 25% of that goes to Africa. NB Germany aren’t the largest exporters to Africa, that is mainly China and the USA.

Shops in Senegal

Next we visit the capital of Senegal and go to some food shops, nearly all of which are stocking exclusively EU imported food stuffs, such as wheat flour and vegetables.

They only find one shop on the outskirts which stocks Cassava flour, which is locally produced and it is three times as expensive as the imported EU flour, which is odd given the higher wages in Germany.

The Millet Co-operative

We now go to a local co-operative which produces Millet, an alternative to Wheat, which can be ground into flour. They say that they would like to process their raw grain into flour and sell that because it would fetch more than the raw grain, but they can’t sell it because of the cheaper EU wheat imports.

We actually see two women who should be employed to grind the grain, but they are not because of the lack of ability to sell it (the lack of a market).

Perversely the co-op is funded by EU aid money which they used to buy grinding stones.

Instead of selling it, the millet is used mainly for their own consumption.

The local shop even stocks EU products such as onions and powdered milk despite the fact that these can be produced easily enough in Senegal.

Things are set to get worse

The documentary now visits a Port which has recently been upgraded with over 70 million EU of aid money, making it easier to import even more products from the West, which are increasingly processed abroad.

The EU is also in negotiations with several African countries to remove trade barriers, giving them even less freedom to protect themselves.

The consequences of unfair trade

It’s mooted that if local farmers cannot make a living (80% of people in Senegal work in agriculture) they will increasingly look to migrate – thus EU policies could be causing migration to Europe from Africa.

The EU won’t defend itself on camera

The documentary tried to get a member of the EU responsible for agriculture to discuss its findings, no one was available!

Could Senegal feed itself?

The answer seems to be yes – at one point the documentary focuses on a research project which led to a higher yield Millet crop being produced, but the higher yields are fed to cattle not people because of the cheaper imported Wheat.

In order to benefit local farmers, countries such as Senegal in Africa need to be allowed to develop, they need to be allowed to protect themselves from cheap EU imports, which are cheaper because they benefit from more than a century of technology and policy developments which makes their goods cheaper.

The situation with Wheat is contrasted to that of Chicken – Senegal slaps a 30% import tax on Chicken and there are plenty of local farmers selling Chicken in the local markets, just not flour products.

As it stands it seems that the global trade system here is benefitting a handful of farmers in EU countries at the expense of many more farmers in poorer countries.

How is UK Development Aid money spent? some useful tracking tools

Even with the recently announced cuts to UK development aid, the United Kingdom will still be spending around £10 billion a year on overseas aid from 2020 onwards.

£10 billion is a lot of money, so it’s fair enough that we should be able to keep track of where our tax money is going!

Thankfully it is relatively easy to keep track of where they money is being spent.

All you need to do is to go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Development Tracker

This tool provides you with an overview of the countries in which we spend most aid, and the areas of development – so you can see that last year we spent the most aid in Ethiopia and health was the main area of expenditure…

You can then click through to individual countries, and from there to individual projects, for example this link will take you to an overview of ‘solar Nigeria‘ – a project with a 5 year budget of £66 million to provide solar energy to schools and hospitals.

How do we measure the effectiveness of Aid spending?

NB – knowing where our aid money is spent is not the same as evaluating the impact!

To evaluate the impact of any of the projects listed on this site you need click on further tabs to get the the ‘documents’ (here), where you can read about how the project is going.

This should give you an insight into how difficult it is to evaluate the success of aid expenditure: just to keep track of the expenditure year on year is an effort given that there are so many different actors involved with spending the aid money – the FCO (previously DFID) works with projects which are already up and running, which can mean working with different partners.

Then you have to evaluated the impact in the context of the problems faced in local conditions – there are all sorts of issues such as conflict and corruption which may mean aid money not being spent as you’d like!

And this is just one project – out of thousands that UK aid money is currently being used to finance!