Monday, February 4, 2008

The End of Poverty (Jeffrey D. Sachs)

Review by Christian Tena

pXIV Foreword
… isn’t it cheaper – and smarter – to make friends out of potential enemies than to defend yourself against them?”

p130 par 3
… The United States received French support during the War of Independence. Europe and Japan (Marshall Plan) received extensive US aid after World War II, as did Korea a decade later. Israel has received vast financial support from the United States. Germany and Poland has their debts canceled. We should be wary of excessive moralizing, or telling the poorest or the most vulnerable or crisis-stuck peoples in the world simply to solve their own problems.

p130 par 1 Persistence Wins
… Still, the experience of hearing no, no, no, eventually followed by yes, has deeply affected my view of policy advocacy. I do not take as a given what is considered politically impossible, but rather I am prepared to argue incessantly, and annoyingly, for what needs to be done, even when it is claimed to be impossible.

P203 par 3
“If you want to get someone’s attention about the health crises in Africa, ‘show them the money.’ Help them to understand the economic costs of the disease pandemics, as well as the economics of disease control. Above all, propose practical solutions based on a rigorous emphasis on economic costs and benefits.”
- as quoted from Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland

p207 (par 3)
As always, these battles are never won, just pushed forward to new terrain. Since the fund started (Global Fund to fight against AIDS, TB and malaria), the continuing battle has been to get the resources the fund needs on a long-term reliable basis, and to help the low income countries to prepare and implement plans that are commensurate with their challenge. Still, after years of extreme neglect, the battle against AIDS, malaria, and TB has finally been joined.

P 208 par 1
In general, Africa lacks irrigation, and more than 90 percent of the food crops are rain fed. Rainfall tends to be highly variable in the sub humid savannah and the arid Sahel near the Sahara. Farmers lack access to roads, markets and fertilizers. Soils have been long depleted of nutrients as the result of repeated harvests without the benefit of chemical or organic nutrient inputs. Without transport, telecommunications, clinics and fertilizers, the hunger-disease-poverty nexus has only deepened.

P266 par 2
Today’s situation is a bit like the old Soviet workers’ joke: “We pretend to work, and you pretend to pay us!” Many poor countries today pretend to reform while rich countries pretend to help them, raising the cynicism to a pretty high level. Many low-income countries go through the motions of reform, doing little in practice and expecting even less in return. The aid agencies, on their part, focus on projects at a symbolic rather than national scale, just big enough to make good headlines.

P309 par 2
Napoleon famously declared, “History is a fable often told.”

P311 page 2
“… (Africans) don’t know what western time is. You have to take these (anti-AIDS) drugs a certain number of hours each day, or they don’t work. Many people in Africa have never seen a clock or a watch their entire lives. And if you say, one o’clock in the afternoon, they do not know what you are talking about. They know morning, they know noon, they know evening, the know darkness of night.”

Andrew Natsios (USAID New Administrator) was asked about his ideas on introducing ARVs into a low-income setting.

It’s a real pretty stupid statement coming from someone I expect to be of knowledgeable. Although I don’t work on rural healthcare – my visits around the community (including clinics and hospitals) have made me realize that Mozambicans know about time – it’s just ‘the sense of urgency’ that needs to be realized. Even without clocks, even if these people haven’t seen clocks in their life they have radios and its everywhere even in the remote areas – and they do tell the time – IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE NOT WESTERN.

Christian Tena