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Bank transfers from Parmalat

7. Juni 2019 - 9:32
A dairy co-operative in Zambia’s Copperbelt helps women escape poverty

The Fisenge Business Dairy Co-operative Union was started by women in 2008. According to a recent census, the 400 co-operative members now own about 4000 cattle. Though the co-operative was created for women, widowed men and orphaned boys are allowed to join when female members die.

Fisenge is a small urban location near the town of Luanshya. Copper mining used to be the region’s main industry. Many people were plunged into poverty when Binani, a foreign investor, pulled out in 2000. Local women started the dairy co-operative to create new livelihoods.

Women own the herds, but they are kept on farms that are mainly registered in the names of their husbands. “My husband owns the farm, but he has to think twice before divorcing me because my dairy cattle have created a good cash flow to our household,” says a co-operative member.

A farmer donated the first ten cows. Later, Heifer International, the Arkansas-based charity, gave the women another 20 animals. Today, the co-operative supplies milk to Parmalat, the multinational dairy giant. The payments are done through a bank.

The co-operative sells its members milking cans and stock feed. It also provides bicycles, so dairy farmers can bring the goods to the depot. It has even acquired two tractors, which are hired out to farmers to earn extra income beyond the milk business.

“We have decided to add value ourselves,” says Eric Kapuka, the co-operative’s accountant. The most recent investment was to build a processing plant. It will package in 0.5-litre sachets which are meant for end consumers. To run the new facility, the co-operative hired a production manager, a machine operator and a sales lady.

Effarta Jele is a founding member of the co-operative union. “From milk sales, I have educated several of my children, including one who studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.” She is the first ever female board member of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) and is keenly interested in promoting dairy farming in this context.

Humphrey Nkonde is the assistant to the editor-in-chief at Mission Press and media researcher based in Ndola, Zambia.
humphrey_nkonde@ymail.com

Kategorien: Ticker

Narben auf Kinderkörpern

7. Juni 2019 - 9:21
Im syrischen Bürgerkrieg wurden viele Kinder verletzt und traumatisiert

Der siebenjährige Ahmad Alkhateb spielte gerade mit seinen Freunden auf der Straße nahe seinem Elternhaus in al-Raqqa in Nordost-Syrien, als plötzlich eine Granate neben ihnen einschlug. Die Granatsplitter trafen Ahmad im Gesicht und hinterließen eine große Wunde auf seiner Wange. Was noch schlimmer war: Sein rechtes Bein musste amputiert werden, obwohl die Ärzte im Krankenhaus alles taten, was sie konnten. Er bekam erst eine Prothese, als die Straße nach Damaskus wieder sicher war.

Die junge Ärztin Doneaa arbeitet im Kinderkrankenhaus von Damaskus. Sie sagt, dass viele Kinder aus Gegenden im Osten wie Deir al-Zour oder al-Raqqa zu ihnen gebracht werden, da es dort keine adäquate medizinische Behandlung gebe. In Damaskus wurde auch Ahmad schließlich behandelt und bekam ein künstliches Bein. Er lernt jetzt wieder zu gehen.

Das psychologische Trauma hat Ahmads Erinnerung ausgelöscht. Die Ärztin meint, der kleine Junge sei noch in der „Phase der Verleugnung“. Ahmads Mutter ist besorgt, weil sich das Verhalten ihres Kindes drastisch geändert hat: „Er isoliert sich, und er spricht nicht mehr als ein oder zwei Worte zu uns.“

Laut dem UN-Kinderhilfswerk (UNICEF) sind rund 3,3 Millionen syrische Kinder Kriegsgefahren ausgesetzt, wie etwa Sprengfallen und Blindgängern. Die meisten verletzten Kinder bekommen nicht die notwendige medizinische Behandlung. UNICEF erklärt, dass 1,5 Millionen Menschen in Syrien mit langfristigen Behinderungen leben, die durch Kriegsverletzungen verursacht sind. Explosionen von Minen sind die Hauptursache, wenn Kinder in diesem Land sterben. Blindgänger verursachten vergangenes Jahr 434 Todesfälle.

Henrietta Fore, die Geschäftsführerin von UNICEF, weist darauf hin, dass allein 2018 1106 syrische Kinder in den Kämpfen getötet wurden. Seit der Krieg begann, war dies die „höchste Zahl von Kindern, die in einem einzigen Jahr starben“. Fore schätzt jedoch, dass die wirklichen Zahlen sehr viel höher liegen.

Millionen von Kindern haben ihr gesamtes Leben in Kriegszonen verbracht. Viele sind schwer traumatisiert. Aber es gibt keine Institution, die diese Kinder psychologisch unterstützt.  

Die elfjährige Rima hat eine lange Narbe auf ihrem Bein. „Als sie drei Jahre alt war, wurde unser Haus eines Nachts bombardiert“, berichtet ihre Mutter. „Rima hatte Verbrennungen dritten Grades. Erst nach acht Monaten ging es ihr besser.“ Wegen ihrer Narbe trägt Rima nur lange Hosen. Aber wann immer sie ein Mädchen in einem kurzen Kleid sieht, sagt sie zu ihrer Mutter: „Ich wünschte, ich könnte auch so ein kurzes Kleid tragen!“

Nawar Almir Ali ist Journalistin und lebt in Damaskus, Syrien.
nawaralmir@gmail.com

Kategorien: Ticker

Sudan is not China

7. Juni 2019 - 9:08
Western media under-estimate the extent to which China opened up under authoritarian rule after the Tiananmen Square massacre

On 3 June 2019, Sudan’s military and paramilitary militias clamped down on the country’s democracy movement. They killed several dozen people. It is too early to say what will become of the so far nonviolent uprising, but the outlook is bleak. The generals will surely try to tighten their grip on the country, so dictatorship looks likely at least in the short term.

Almost exactly 30 years earlier, on 4 June 1989, Chinese troops put an end to democracy protests on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. At first glance, the events looks similar. I think there are big differences, however. Let me elaborate.

It has become trendy in the past three years to argue that authoritarianism is stronger than previously believed, and that democracy is weaker. Evidence is seen in the fact that the one-party rule in China has prevailed and even seems to be becoming more rigid in recent years. A long, though slow trend of China opening up after the Tiananmen Square massacre has apparently gone into reverse. The hopes of western observers, myself included, for eventual democratisation have apparently failed.

This assessment, which is currently en vogue, is too simplistic. It misses what has driven Chinese development. To explain this crucial point, I must first discuss briefly what “development” means. No, is not simply economic growth, nor is it simply rising per-capita incomes, both of which have been impressive in China the past 4 decades, starting well before 1989.

What really matters is functional differentiation. This sociological term means that important subsystems of society gain autonomy and become self-managing. Those subsystems include the economy, science, law, religion, the political system, mass media and others. Niklas Luhmann, the prominent sociologist, called them “functional” systems. They operate according to their own logic, but they are not entirely independent because they all  rely on services provided by the other functional systems. For example, markets fail unless there is an independent judiciary that can settle conflicts. In a similar sense, technology companies depend on cutting-edge scientific research. Research, in turn, depends on a minimum level of free exchange among peers.

Luhmann’s systems theory is very complex and, were he still alive, he would probably cringe at the simplified way I am referring to him here. To understand China’s striking development and success since the early 1980s, however, it is important to see how much functional differentiation the regime allowed to happen and even actively brought about. It created special economic zones in which profit-driven companies flourished. It invested heavily in higher education, establishing universities that now have strong international reputations. Masses of students were allowed to study abroad, including at western universities, and later, millions of tourists to visit Europe and North America.

China’s Communist Party backed off from the totalitarian communist ideology which, under Mao, everyone had to pledge allegiance to. While people never had the freedom to directly challenge the authority of the regime, they were mostly free to develop and discuss all sorts of ideas that were not directly related to government legitimacy.

Even political power was decentralised, with different provinces having the liberty to adopt different policies. What worked in one place was copied in others, and eventually rolled out throughout the country. To a large extent, however, the central government was not micromanaging affairs. It was observing what was going on. It was not simply imposing its will, but showed an eagerness to learn from experience. Moreover, it kept focused on building physical and social infrastructures.

It is true that governance always stayed authoritarian. I find it depressing that political human rights were never fulfilled. We mustn’t overlook, however, that the Communist Party enjoys considerable legitimacy in the eyes of China’s people, nonetheless. The reason is not only that society as a whole has become more prosperous, but also that people have far more options than they did in the past. Their opportunities to take their fate into their own hands have multiplied.

It is noteworthy, development – according to a UNDP definition – means enabling people to do that. Political freedoms are a component, but other issues matter too, especially education. Functional differentiation was what facilitated increased opportunities in China, giving scope for people to thrive in different spheres, pursuing different kinds of careers and creating a multitude of new livelihoods.

Until about 10 years ago, the international development community largely expected further opening up in China. I plan to discuss what went wrong in another blog post next Sunday. Right now, I want to return to Sudan.

I do not think that the military, if it stays in control at all, will copy the Chinese model of modernising society by bringing about more functional differentiation. Sudan’s military has a brutal track record of war and repression. It has been in the country for decades without doing much to develop the country.

China’s developmental dictatorship is unusual. It is more typical for authoritarian rulers to exploit their nations than to enhance people’s welfare. Yes, I know, there is corruption in China and top leaders have certainly been enriching themselves. But that is not the only thing they did. The point is that they have managed to improve the lives of masses of Chinese people to an extent that makes their rule legitimate in those people’s eyes.

Not everyone is happy, of course, and repression in China is getting worse. Nonetheless, the overall track record of the communist regime is impressive, and for a long time its argument that it would introduce political human rights once social-economic human rights were fulfilled seemed credible. I’ll return to this issue next week.

 

Kategorien: Ticker

Preventable diseases

5. Juni 2019 - 13:08
Malawi’s health sector is doing a good job in combatting neglected tropical diseases

Malawi’s Ministry of Health and Population has a strategy to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), according to its spokesperson Joshua Malango.  The Malawi Neglected Tropical Diseases Master Plan 2015-2020  promotes mass drug administration in line with the guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO). “We have already eliminated elephantiasis. There are also good results for trachoma,” Malango says. “Our target is to eliminate these diseases by the end of 2019.”

NTDs are a group of treatable and preventable diseases caused by parasitic and bacterial infections. They affect 1.6 billion people globally and have different effects such as blindness, deformities, stunted growth or cognitive impairment. The five most common NTDs in Africa are Lymphatic Filariasis (more commonly known as Elephantiasis), Onchocerciasis (River Blindness), Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia), Blinding Trachoma and Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (Intestinal Worms) (see article by Ester Dopheide in D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2018/01, Monitor section and interview with Martin Kollmann in D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2018/03, Focus section).

These diseases affect mostly poor people who have no access to clean water or adequate sewage system. According to the WHO, “economic hardship and cyclical poverty have become synonymous with NTDs.”

Low-cost, highly effective drugs against the NTDs exist, but are often not accessible for the people affected. In 2014, Malawi and 25 other African countries committed themselves to strengthen their efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases.

Five years after this commitment, Malawi is performing well in fighting NTDs, ranking second of all African countries, with the Kingdom of Eswatini (formally Swaziland) in the lead. Mali, another poor western African country, comes third, outperforming richer countries on the continent such as Botswana and South Africa.

A network of scientist, international government agencies and pharmaceutical companies called “Uniting to Combat Tropical Diseases” confirms that Malawi is doing a “good job.”

Malawi has 91 % of the population on treatment, which is above the 75 % target set by the WHO.

Drug development is a key issue. According to Anastasia Kefalidou from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), drug development partnerships have been established with major pharmaceutical companies such as Merck or Pfizer.

Another well-known example is the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), which is a collaborative, non-profit drug research and development organisation developing new treatments for NTDs. However, companies producing generic versions of branded drugs are often waiting for patents to expire – normally 20 years after submission – to produce the needed medication at a lower cost.

Raphael Mweninguwe is a freelance journalist based in Malawi.
raphael.mweninguwe@hotmail.com

Links

World Health Organization Roadmap for control, elimination and eradication of NTDs by 2020:
https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/70809/WHO_HTM_NTD_2012.1_eng.pdf;jsessionid=080DDF50DBDEC2C63738F39CF77F608F?sequence=1

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases:
https://unitingtocombatntds.org/africa/

The Addis Ababa Neglected Tropical Diseases Commitment (2014):
https://unitingtocombatntds.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/addis_ababa_ntd_commitment.pdf

Malawi NTD Master Plan 2015-2020:
http://espen.afro.who.int/system/files/content/resources/MALAWI_NTD_Master_Plan_2015_2020.pdf

 

Kategorien: Ticker

E+Z/D+C 2019/08 – sw – Judy Thou – Citi Hoppa

5. Juni 2019 - 12:22
Why vocational training matters in Nairobi’s public-transport industry, and why young women in particular deserve job opportunities

What difference does vocational training make?
It is important in any industry. Staff must understand the product, deliver good services and keep their skills up to date. Citi Hoppa moves human beings around in machines. We must keep them safe, so we need competent drivers, who know how to navigate difficult road conditions and competently interact with other traffic participants ...

... without appropriate training, they will probably try to drive as fast as possible.
Yes, impatience is the character of youth, which is why we don’t employ anyone under the age of 32 as a driver. Understanding the difference between transporting goods and people is essential. It is not just about using different kinds of vehicles and getting from A to B. Comfort matters very much, which is why conductors are just as important as drivers. They do not merely sell tickets. They usher in the passengers and take care of them.

How does vocational training change staff psychology?
Building self-esteem and self-confidence is actually a major part of the training. Our industry is semi-informal in Kenya. It is generally thought to only offer jobs of last opportunity. When they start working for us, people’s self-esteem is very low. If they do not value themselves, however, they will not value others, so one of our tasks is to show them that they are indeed valued members of society. Doing that actually involves some rather personal matters, such as what clothes to wear or handling their money responsibly. Typically, they do not have much formal education and many come from rural areas, so they have to adopt to urban norms. Life is very difficult for them, and they only rarely get an opportunity.

Is the situation the same for young women, or are they basically expected to marry early and raise children?
Yes, I’m afraid that is what awaits the majority of economically marginalised young girls. It makes the outlook even darker that they are unlikely to find a prosperous husband. Without an education, young women struggle to get good jobs.

Do you focus on hiring women?
We are definitely an equal-opportunity employer. After all, I am a woman myself. That said, the circumstances are not family-friendly. Our shifts either start very early in the morning or end very late at night. Mothers who must take care of small children find it hard to cope with that kind of schedules. In our country, however, most of them have some kind of help: grandmothers and other relatives step in. If mothers earn money, moreover, they can pay babysitters.

Do you have female drivers?
Yes, we do, but so far, there are only two. It is far more common for women to work as conductors. We have recently introduced a new premium brand. We call it Citi Hoppa Next. On these buses, we rely exclusively on female conductors. We have thus created a special space for female employment. The passengers actually appreciate it, because women make them feel safe because of women’s generally more nurturing outlook. Now we could have a long debate on why that is so, but for our purposes, it is more important to acknowledge that it is so.

Are you trying to hire more female drivers?
Well, we are not deliberately searching for them, but if we have a job opening and a woman applies, we will certainly consider her favourably. Of course, we also employ women as accountants and other office jobs.

How do you provide vocational training?
Well, the state of vocational training in Kenya is not very good. To improve things, the government has introduced technical-training schools with curricula for plumbers or electricians, for example. That policy is beginning to deliver results, but there is no school for public transport so far. We actually started our own training facility in 2004, where we basically teach people how to work as drivers and conductors. We also convey some mechanical skills et cetera. The most important thing, however, is front-face customer care. Our drivers are typically former conductors who have a better understanding of what is needed than former truck drivers. Our approach is actually quite successful, so other transport companies have been poaching our staff. Some of those companies have also become involved in our training facility, which is good. Ultimately, however, I think the government should set up a meaningful vocational-training programme for our industry.

As a woman in a position of top leadership, do you consider yourself a role model?
No, that is not how I see myself. I am a woman, who has had opportunities and was able to grasp them. In return, I hope to provide others, and in particular women, with opportunities.

Judy Thuo is the chief executive of Citi Hoppa, a bus company in Nairobi. It focuses on safety and passenger comfort. Because of its contribution to making urban development more sustainable, it has received loans from DEG, the German development finance institution.
info@citihoppa.co.ke

Kategorien: Ticker

E+Z/D+C 2019/07 – deb – bl – Hans Dembowski – Bannon Europe

31. Mai 2019 - 15:13
Why populists failed to build European alliance

When the results of the European elections were announced last week, it fast became clear that right-wing populists did not get as many votes as many mainstream observers had feared. Far-right parties fared well in some member countries, but they did not manage to become a coherent force. While it is profoundly worrisome that they are very strong in some countries, especially Italy, Poland and Britain, it should not be surprising that these are national-level successes. The point is that anyone who emphasises the national interest will always struggle to make a coherent argument for cross-border alliances.

I have pointed this out before, but it bears repetition: Why should Polish nationalists form a coalition with Brexit proponents who have a long history of arguing that there are too many Polish plumbers in the UK? How will German nationalists, who state that bygones are bygones, ever cooperate well with Polish nationalists, whose worldview includes their country’s entitlement to further compensation for suffering under Nazi occupation? Does anyone really believe that Germany’s AfD, which worries about our country’s taxpayers having to bail out other EU member states, can find common ground on fiscal policy with Italy’s Lega, which wants to increase deficit spending?

There is a reason why the various right-wing populist parties that are disrupting national politics in many European countries have never managed to form a single and united faction in the European Parliament. They belong to several different faction because they simply cannot agree on what they want to do. Accordingly, their attempts to coordinate their election campaigns this time remained utterly unconvincing.

What I find truly worrisome, however, is that mainstream political parties and the media did such a poor job of pointing out the populists lack of coherence. Instead of exposing it, they allowed a sense of hysteria to foster in public discourse. If they want to get a grip on the problem, they have to learn to properly challenge the right-wing forces by pointing out those forces’ weaknesses and hollow propaganda.

An important starting point would be to emphasise a fundamental flaw in populist ideology. A core element of it is that a global elite is using multilateral institutions to subordinate individual nations to its rule. The idea is that, by abandoning multilateralism and reclaiming sovereignty, those nations can form a better international order in which all will live in peace because all will have the freedom to live as they please. 

This is nonsense. The truth is that national sovereignty was the key to building peace in Europe four centuries ago after the 30 Years War. Back then, the difference between Protestants and Catholics had been what had driven rabid identity politics that resulted in terrible bloodshed. The Westphalian Peace introduced sovereignty in the sense of a territory’s sovereign lord defining the faith the people he (women did not rule) was in charge of. It worked out, but one irony was that Protestants had theologically insisted on people’s personal conscience as being essential for their religious faith. Instead, religion became a state issue. Sovereignty was not about the freedom to live one’s faith as one believed to be right. It was about nobody from abroad interfering in what the sovereign lord of any particular country demanded.

In later centuries, however, the idea of sovereignty no longer prevented war. On the contrary, sovereign governments competed for land (including colonies overseas), resources and influence. Military campaigns were considered normal and became increasingly devastating. The lesson of two world wars in the 20th century was to build multilateral institutions in order to resolve conflicts of interest by peaceful means.

This is not something of merely European relevance. Consider the competition of China and India, two huge Asian nations whose leaders argue that they deserve a stronger role, indeed a leading one, in world affairs. Like European populists they like to pretend that they are cooperating in their effort to stand up to western powers, but anyone who takes a closer look, will see that they are actually antagonists. The Indian government resents China’s Belt and Road Initiative, for example, and fears to be marginalised in its own region. China is investing heavily in infrastructure projects on all shores of the Indian Ocean, apart from India of course.  Military concerns play an important role in this context. 

Sovereignty is not the key to solving the main problems humankind faces. Nationalist agitation can help to win national elections, but it is not helpful in multilateral or supranational settings. The European Parliament is a supranational institution, so it is no wonder that the right-wing populists are unable to really have an impact in it. To some extent, they are proving disruptive, but for systemic reasons, they are incapable of building anything.

Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, has been trying to unite the far right internationally. As The Guardian reported last week, he asked Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, to become its figurehead. He also offered foreign funding. Apparently, Farage was interested, but ultimately the alliance was not formalised. It is bizarre, of course, that Bannon is offering foreign funding to promote national sovereignty, and mainstream policymakers and the media should pay close attention to this matter. The funding of many right-wing parties is shady, to put it mildly. Exposing these issues will contribute to debunking them.

Appropriate scrutiny is likely to reveal that a lot of anti-global activism is indeed funded by a global elite. Brooke Harrington, a professor of sociology at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, has argued that this is what is going on. According to her, many of the super-rich today support right-wing populists because multilateral policymaking actually increasingly constrains them (rather than nation states). In the first phase of globalisation, they liked being able to move capital from country to country with ever greater ease, but in the meantime, governments have begun to coordinate action on taxes, the environment and social protection. The billionaires are not interested in national sovereignty. They want to be sovereign themselves and thwart state power by pitting many small national entities against one another.

The willingness with which Heinz-Christian Strache, Austria’s disgraced far-right leader, was prepared to sell out to a person who seemed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch fits the picture. Russian oligarchs belong to the super-rich internationally. Supposedly keen on Austrian sovereignty, Strache wanted to collect bribes for his party and offered to award the oligarch government contracts once he’d be in power. The video was made public shortly before the European elections, and as a consequence he had to step down.

The forces Harrington describes would love to see the EU breaking up in the name of national sovereignty. Such a development would set limits to state powers that - so long as they stay united - can still make a difference in global affairs.

P.S.: If you doubt that right-wing populists can establish more than a pecking order of nations, consider Trump’s latest tariff decisions. He has no sensible migration policy, so he wants Mexico to solve his problems. Accordingly, he has imposed new tariffs and plans to increase them unless Mexico stops the flow of refugees from Central America. The kind of world order Trump envisions is obviously one where the USA can simply bark orders at less powerful countries. Does anyone really believe that is superior to multilateral agreements in terms of safeguarding peace in the long run?

Kategorien: Ticker

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