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!

The End of the Department for International Development!

In September 2020 the long standing Department for International Development (DFID) merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

You can read more about the merger here.

DFID was established as a separate department in 1997 under the New Labour Government, and its aim was to focus exclusively on delivering overseas aid, and over the last 23 years its budget has been increased steadily to around $15 billion a year, meaning that the UK was one of few developed countries to meet its commitment to spend 0.7% GDP on aid, part of the old Millennium Development Goals.

The new conservative administration had been making noises about merging DFID with the FCO for some time, and it finally made the announcement in June 2020, and by September, DFID was no more. (Many DFID employees accused the government of doing this by stealth, using Covid-19 to disguise the move.)

This will probably refocus aid spending on defence and trade rather than poverty reduction

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office lists as its primary responsibilities:

‘pursuing national interests, promoting Britain as a force for good in the world, British security, as well as (since the merger) reducing poverty and meeting global challenges’. 

According to The Conversation this means the UK government has now changed its focus on how it spends aid. 

It will now be prioritising promoting Britain’s national interests – trade and security, rather than on global poverty reduction.  This was a trend that had already started to happen before the merger and shows how national political priorities can shape in very direct ways the way international aid money is spent.

Historically, DFID has tended to portion out aid money to projects that are already running, rather than setting up its own new projects, with Health care and Disaster relief being two of the larger expenditure areas, and countries such as Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Nigeria receiving the most aid.

However, now we will likely see more being spent in the areas of governance, security, and trade assistance, with security risk countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan maybe receiving more aid, as well as countries that have well established trade links with the UK and with potential to benefit UK companies abroad.

All of that is in line with using aid to promote national interests.

It’s too early to say whether or not aid money will now be spent more effectively under this new regime, but it’s certainly worth knowing about this change if you’re studying the global development option as part of A-level sociology!

The Afar of Ethiopia

The Afar Tribe of Ethiopia continue to live the traditional lifestyles, according to their traditional values, despite the challenges brought about with Modernisation over the last half a century.

The Afar Tribe can be used as a case study in global development to illustrate some of the limitations of Modernisation Theory, along with many other themes in the Global Development module.

There are approximately 1.8 million Afar who are still leading Nomadic lifestyles, mainly in central Ethiopia, though some also live in neighbouring countries (many traditional cultures spread across nation state borders).

The Afar rely on their animals to survive in the harsh dessert climate – camels and goats are the two main animals which afar herd and use for transportation and milk.

Afar villages are generally organised into one extended family, which effectively forms a clan, and it is thus unit which forms the basis of Afar culture and property ownership.

The Afar have a traditional gendered division of labour, in which women do much of the physical household chores, and collect wood and water – the later can take several hours a day in times of drouth. Men seem to spend most of their time looking after the livestock and ‘defending’ the territory.

There are many environmental and political challenges which the Afar face: in recent years, drought has been a severe problem, and in 2019 a plague of locusts came across from Yemen which made matters worse – both food and water are scarce.

Political tensions are also an issue – The Issa people are encroaching on their territory in south, which is an ongoing, centuries old conflict, more recently fuelled by guns from the West, and thousands of Afar have been displaced as a result – nearly 50 000 in 2019.

The Ethopian government turn a blind eye to this as many of the Issa are from neighbouring Djbouti, which is land locked Ethopia’s access route to the sea.

Other challenges include land being given over to Industrial agriculture which encroaches on the Afar’s grazing territories, which are already scarce given the extreme environmental traditions.

The need to adjust to industrialisation/ Urbanisation?

It seems that modernisation and environmental pressures are not making it easy for the Afar to live their traditional lifestyles, so they might not have any choice but to adapt.

The Afar Pastoralist Development Association is already working to drill wells in some afar regions (for which you need heavy industrial machinery) and has suggested that some Afar need to move to Urban areas and find jobs in order to take pressure off the land and support those who remain living traditional lifestyles

Relevance to A-level Sociology

  • This material can be used to evaluate Modernisation Theory (link above) – it shows how modernisation really does put pressure on traditional cultures to adapt. However, the Afar traditional culture has persisted despite modernisation.
  • This is a useful reminder that modernisation might not be a bad thing where the gendered division of labour is concerned, it’s pretty stark in Afar culture!
  • it shows how the governments (Nation States) aren’t that useful to the Afar!
  • There are some useful examples of NGOs working with the Afar to help them maintain their traditional ways of life – innovative uses of technology.
  • This is a great example of how industrialisation, war and conflict (in neighbouring Somalia) and environmental decline are putting pressure on a traditional culture.

The Afar Tribe: Find Out More

This post was mainly written using material from The Traditional Cultures Project – which is a most excellent resource fo finding up to date information on many traditional cultures around the globe.

Global Value Chains and Globalisation

The 2019 World Bank Development Report highlights the importance of ‘global value chains’ to helping poor countries develop.

Global trade has increased significantly since the 1990s and global value chains today account for more than 50% of global trade.

Those countries which have high levels of participation with Global Value Chains have generally developed more quickly than those countries which have limited or no participation with global value chains.

Vietnam would be a good example of a country that has increased its export links to GVCs over the last 30 years and has seen a corresponding rapid economic development.

What is a Global Value Chain?

The report defines a global value chain (GVC) as ‘the series of stages in the production of a product or service for sale to consumers. Each stage adds value, and at least two stages are in different countries.’

The bicycle is used as an example of a product with an extensive global value chain, with many countries being involved in the many stages of its production.

Global Value Chains and Development

Those countries which have moved from simply exporting agricultural goods to manufacturing parts for products such as bicycles have seen higher levels of economic growth since the 1990s:

What I find most interesting is this map here:

We see that those countries which are more involved with global manufacturing – China and India for example have seen the highest rates of economic growth

The negative consequences?

The report also has chapters on increasing inequalities which have emerged as a result of development through increasing manufacturing – GVC firms tend to be highly concentrated in only a few regions in every country, and women are less likely to be employed in managerial positions.

And there may also be some negative environmental consequences for countries more involved in global value chains.

Future challenges

The report suggests that recent technological innovations which bring manufacturing closer to the end-consumers of GVC products (3D printers) may mean that manufacturing for GVCs is no longer a viable path to development for poorer countries.

The limitations of this report

You have to question how objective this report is – it is from the World Bank, an organisation dedicated to increasing World Trade.

The report also doesn’t seem to acknowledge the problem of what happens to those countries which are ‘left behind’ or ‘left out’ of global value chains.

That map above kind of reminds me of an updated version of Wallersteins’ ‘three zones’ in his World Systems Theory – and in that theory, one country can only move up into a higher zone at the expense of another moving down – there always has to be one country (or regions within countries) at the bottom, or maybe even left out altogether, which seems to be the case here.

It might be that integrating into GVCs is a great way to develop for SOME people in some regions of some countries, but not necessarily even for the majority of people the world over.

It might even be the case that the expansion of GVS are the cause of more inequality and thus, despite increasing economic growth (which are very limited indicators of development) we actually have equal amounts of losers (or more) than we do winners from the expansion of GVCs.

Relevance of this report for Global Development within A-level sociology

  • This seems to be a good case for global optimism – those countries which get more involved in global trade
  • The map of countries seems to be a modified version of Wallerstein’s World Systems Theory‘s ‘Zones of Production’, although interpreted here in an entirely positive light!
  • This seems to be a positive example of increasing trade leading to positive development.
  • HOWEVER, you need to be critical of this report because of the biased source – the World Bank, which is pro-trade!

Sources/ citations

You can read the full report here.

Philanthropy and Development – can it ever be enough?

I stumbled across the example of the coreographer Sherrie Silver using her fame, money and skills to raise awareness of African cultures through dnace and to campaign for better funding for opportunities for young farmers in rural Africa.

Below is an example of the kind of Development advocacy work she has been involved in:

Sherrie Silver is originally from Rwanda and educated in the UK, and has had a successful career at a very young age, and it’s pretty impressive to see someone so young already working to give something back.

To my mind its hard to find anything to dislike about this kind of advocacy – it seems to be coming from a pure desire to help on the part of an individual that’s done OK for themselves, and the particular awareness campaign above certainly seems to be involving young people in developing countries.

It’s also an interesting example of the kind of ‘development assistance’ that even neo-liberals would agree with -if it’s philanthropy it’s not coming from the State, so they’d probably be OK with it.

But is this kind of Advocacy work effective at promoting development?

In itself getting young people to put up dance videos isn’t going to do anything to encourage African governments to invest in young people, so I don’t really get the logic here!

However, I guess this is useful in busting myths about underdevelopment in Africa, it is empowering, it is peer to peer and puts youth in rural Africa on a level footing with youth in cities in Western countries – I mean they’re just as capable at dancing and video editing.

But i just don’t get how putting videos of rural youth in Africa dancing is going to encourage financial investment in agriculture?

Maybe I’m missing something?!?

Economic and Social Development in Kenya since 2000

How successful has economic and social development in Kenya been since the year 2000?

This post has primarily been written for students studying the global development option for A-level sociology. The purpose of this post is to provide a specific example of a country which has, overall, experienced rapid and positive development over the last 20 years.

One of the key questions in this module is ‘what are the most effective strategies for development’ – one way of addressing this question is to explore further what development policies and initiatives have been applied in Kenya to promote positive development.

NB the purpose of this post is not to answer the question ‘why has Kenya developed economically and socially, but simply to provide a case study demonstrating the extent of the rapid progress according to many indicators of social and economic development.

Kenya in 2020: An Overview

Kenya is located in East Africa, with a population of just over 50 million people.

It is classified by the World Bank as a low to middle income country with a Gross National Income per capita of just over $1700.

Overall, Kenya has experienced positive economic and social development since the year 2000, as evidenced in the quadrupling of its GNI per capita during that time.

Social development has also been rapid: life expectancy has increased by 15 years since the year 2000, and both primary and secondary school enrolment ratios are significantly improved.

However, as some of the statistics below suggest there is still room for improvement and development challenges going forwards into the 2020s.

Economic Trends

Kenyan Gross National Income per Capita as Quadrupled since the year 2000, from $400 to over $1700.

Kenya’s Debt as a percentage of its GNI has been relatively stable, and is currently low, at only 2.2% of GNI

Kenya’s Employment Ratio is high and has increased to 72.5% of the population

NB – this bucks the global trend of increasing levels of unemployment

Development Aid

Official Development Assistance to Kenya increased from $500 million in 2000 to $2.5 billion in 2018

This would suggest as far as Kenya is concerned that Aid has not retarded broader economic or social development.

Industrialisation and Urbanisation in Kenya

The breakdown of Kenya’s GDP is:

  • Agriculture – 34%
  • Industry – 17%
  • Services – 47%

Kenya’s major exports remain agricultural products:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kenya_Exports_Treemap_2017.svg”>Kenya Exports Treemap 2017

In the year 2000 20% of Kenya’s population was rural, this has grown to 28% by 2020

Education Trends in Kenya

  • Secondary School Enrolment increased from 39% in 2000 to 57% (2010)
  • Tertiary Enrolment is currently at 9%
  • NB the World Bank data on enrolment ratios is sketchy, there appear to be several data gaps!

Life Expectancy Trends

Life expectancy at birth has increased from 50 to 66 years in the last 20 years

Health and Sanitation Trends

  • Approximately 4% of the population have HIV
  • X percent have access to clean water
  • Y percent have access to improved sanitation

Population and Birth Rate Trends

  • Kenya’s Population increased by 20 million between the year 2000 and 2020, from 30 million to 50 million
  • The Fertility Rate – decreased from 5.2 to 3.5 babies per woman
  • Contraceptive prevalence increased from 39 to 61%
  • The Infant mortality rate decreased from 99 per 1000 to 45 per thousand

Access to Technology Trends

  • Mobile phone access increased from 0.4 to 96%
  • Internet access increased from 0.3 to 22%

Peacefulness Trends

Kenya’s Peace levels, as measured by the Global Peace Index, have been up and down over the last decade, but have remained broadly stable over the 10 years since the index began.

Gender Equality Trends

Gender inequality seems to be a faltering point for Kenya. After some seemingly rapid progress in the last decade, gender equality has fallen back to almost the same level as in 2006.

Other notable development trends

  • Kenya has had a net migration of minus 50 000 per year in recent years, combined with an increase of money received from abroad.

Conclusion: Is Kenya A Development Success Story?

Based on the above statistics it is easy to conclude that, overall, Kenya has seen a great deal of positive economic and social development – especially based on the measurements of GNI growth, life expectancy and education.

However, there are some areas where no significant development appears to have taken place – peacefulness and gender equality seem to be struggling for example.

NB – this is only a very brief look at some of the general statistics, so keep in mind that there will be regional variations and that not everyone would have benefitted equally from any development that has taken place.

Also, i haven’t tried to look at why development has (or hasn’t on some indicators) taken place in Kenya, just the statistics!

Sources

The Gyaan Centre:

The Gyaan Centre is a new school for girls soon to be opened in Rajasthan, India.

Rajasthan is one of the most conservative states in India, with women and girls still being limited to very traditional roles – many girls are still married off early and then their only prospect is to be tied to their husband and household as wives and mothers.

This is reflected in Rajasthan’s extremely low female literacy rate, which is currently under 60%.

However, thanks to the new Gyaan Centre, 400 girls a year will now be provided with the opportunity to receive an education.

The Gyaan Centre, school for girls in Rajasthan, India

This isn’t a typical school, because the founders realised they would have to work within local norms in order for the school to stand any chance of success, so it isn’t just offering a ‘standard’ academic style of education of its pupils.

It is also going to be offering training in local crafts such as dyeing yoga matts to the mothers and aunts of its pupils and have a craft market aimed at the tourists who frequent the local area (or at least did before Covid-19, but no one could have predicted that!)

This is an interesting example of how a development project has to be rooted in local culture in order to stand a chance of being a success (assuming it will be of course!) rather than just being imposed by the West, and thus being irrelevant.

It’s also a nice reminder of how students shouldn’t generalise about the level of development in any country, especially one such as India with a population of one billion people.

While India has seen rapid economic development over the past decades, gender equality lags behind, and in certain regions, such as Rajasthan it is particularly poor, hence the need for targeted local development projects such as this.

You can find out more about the school by reading this Guardian article.

This information should be of interest to any student studying the Global Development topic in A-level sociology, relevant to both gender and education.

Explaining South Korea’s Economic and Social Development #2

South Korea is one of the real success stories of development post world war two, but what policies led to it rapid economic and social development?

NB – you might like to read part one of ‘Explaining South Korea’s Development‘ first!

During the early phases of its economic development, there were few vested interests In South Korea to oppose Import Substitution Industrialization: there was no landlord class (like in South America) and no foreign ownership of industry (like in much of Africa), so there were no vested ‘extractive’ interests to block the consumption of imports which was required to boost manufacturing.

During the 1980s South Korea also benefited from global political and economic trends: it gained an ally in America who wanted a stronghold in Asia to prove that a free-market economy was a viable alternative to communism; it was also able to benefit from the increasing global demand for cars and other industrial products – cheaper labour in South Korea meant it was eventually able to build a very successful automobile industry, spruing on the decline of manufacturing in places like Detroit.

The Hyundai factory in Ulsan is now the biggest automobile factory in the World, an honor which used to belong to the River Rouge Ford Factory in Detroit.

By the 1990s South Korea was being categorized as a Newly Industrialized Economy…however, the idea that this success was because of neoliberal policies is a myth. Rather, the strong economic growth post WW2 was because the authoritarian government (not beholden to either of the vested interests above) was able to protect industries, much in the same way as Britain and America did during their strong phases of economic growth.

In short, South Korea’s economic success is because the state played a highly interventionist role in steering, stimulating and constraining the market.

The Delhi Smog – A Consequence of Neoliberal Development?

A test match between India and Sri Lanka had to be repeatedly halted on Sunday because of the smog enveloping Delhi.

India smog 2
The Sri-Lankan cricket team, taking a break from smog-induced vomit sessions 

The Sri-Lankan team took the field after the lunch break wearing face masks, and play was halted for consultation with doctors. It then resumed, but was stopped twice more when two Sri Lankan bowlers left the field with breathing difficult and nausea; one of them was said to have vomited in the changing room. (further details are in this article in the Hindustan Times)*

This little story got me to digging around for evidence of the extent of pollution in Delhi – and it seems that it’s pretty bad – according to this BBC News Article pollution levels in early November 2017 reached 30 times the World Health Organisation’s acceptable limits, and the Indian Medical Association declared a state of medical emergency…

Thick smog in new Delhi on Tuesday express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey 07 Nov 17
Smog in Delhi

To my mind this is a great example of the relationship between development and environmental damage, which can be especially bad when development happens rapidly (or should I say ‘development’?) and there is a lack of regulation. Possibly yet another problems with neoliberal strategies of development?

*NB – The India cricket boss, CK Khanna, accused to Sri Lankans of making a ‘big fuss’, I guess it all depends on what level of pollution you regard as ‘normal’!