What We’re Reading 5/26/09

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AFP—Recession weighs heavily on aid to poor countries:
Poor countries, already hard hit by the global economic downturn, are now facing cutbacks in foreign assistance from traditional donors saddled with rapidly expanding deficits, the AFP reports. The worldwide recession has driven 50 million people into extreme poverty, according to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which have exhorted rich countries to live up to promises to boost development aid. ONE’s Oliver Buston is quoted in this story, saying that in addition to a fall in aid amounts, there has been a worrisome shift “toward more loans and less and less grants,” which could trigger a “debt crisis.”

NY Times – The Hidden Hunger (opinion):
NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes that, “one of the great Western misconceptions is that severe malnutrition is simply about not getting enough to eat. Often it’s about not getting the right micronutrients — iron, zinc, vitamin A, iodine — and one of the most cost-effective ways outsiders can combat poverty is to fight this ‘hidden hunger.’ Malnutrition is not a glamorous field, and so it’s routinely neglected by everybody — donor governments, poor countries and, yes, journalists. But malnutrition is implicated in one-third to one-half of all child deaths each year; the immediate cause may be diarrhea, but lurking behind it is a deficiency of zinc.”

Washington Times—Diminishing water resources threaten peace:
A dispute over a one-acre island in Lake Victoria that has fueled talk of war between Kenya and Uganda is but one instance of increasing conflict over shrinking water resources throughout Africa. Such conflicts pit ethnic groups, races and nations against one another and are likely to get worse, fueled by a toxic mix of climate change, environmental ruin, mounting droughts and famine, the Washington Times reports.

Wall Street Journal—The U.N. bows to the anti-insecticide lobby (opinion):
In 2006, after 25 years and 50 million preventable deaths, the World Health Organization reversed course and endorsed widespread use of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria. But, earlier this month, the U.N. agency reversed course again, and now says it plans to advocate for drastic reductions in the use of DDT. The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal criticizes the policy change, arguing that it is “a victory for politics over public health, and millions of the world’s poor will suffer as a result.”

Financial Times – Africa almost giving land away, says UN:
African countries are giving away vast tracts of farmland to other countries and investors almost for free, with the only benefits consisting of vague promises of jobs and infrastructure, according to a report published yesterday. The report, by two UN agencies, is the first major study of the so-called “farmland grab” trend, in which rich countries such as Saudi Arabia or South Korea invest in overseas land to boost their food security. The investors plan to export all, or a large share of, the crops back to feed their own populations.

-Steve Wilson

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