1938: Africans Need Bednets, Vitamin A, Clean Drinking Water. Sound Familiar?

From a paper called "Can the West Save Africa?" [PDF] by William Easterly, comparing findings about Africa's technological troubles from one Lord Hailey in 1938 with a 2005 U.N. Millennium Project report:

Says Easterly:

All of the above seem to forget that technology does not implement itself. Technical knowledge needs people to implement it—people who have the right incentives to solve all of the glitches and unexpected problems that happen when you apply a new technology, people who make sure that all the right inputs get to the right places at the right time, and local people who are motivated to use the new technology. The field that addresses all these incentives is called economics.

Via Bill Goodwin's Google Reader.

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  • jtuf||

    Millions of people die each year from a lack of toilets and refrigerators.

  • ||

    In almost 70 years, the UN hasn't been able to effect ANY changes in these areas? Someone tell me what the UN is good for again? Why do we pay 'dues' to this useless organization?

  • ||

    actually, the UN has been taking a lead in recent years - with funding from the US, Global Fund and other donors. Look at net coverage in Ethiopia (UNICEF deserves a lot of praise); and here in Tanzania - we are aiming for universal coverage of one net per sleeping space - by 2010. ambitious? yes. will we get there? probably not far off.

  • ||

    Figure out how to secure property rights, and the rest take care of themselves.

  • hmm||

  • Terry Michael||

    And all of the above account for what the western world is now calling AIDS in Africa. Same old immune deficiency-causing problems--not some dirty sexual practices of black Africans spreading the myterious "HIV" (of which the Nobel prize winner for "discovering" "HIV", Luc Montagnier, says a strong immune system can rid the body within weeks.) Thabo Mbeki had it exactly right. Plain old racism is the "cause" of AIDS in Africa--a heterosexual epidemic of which never has occurred in the West, including on the European continent, where 90% of men are uncircumcised (and circumcision is the new western "cure" for the spread of "HIV" among black Africans--see that nonsense in The New York Times today, the chief propaganda organ for The HIV/AIDS Industrial Complex.) See Montagnier make the claim about healthy immune systems being able to rid the body of "HIV" within weeks, at the end of this 2.5 minute trailer for the new documentary, "House of Numbers":
    http://www.houseofnumbers.com

  • ||

    Slow down, there, Terry. How is "all of the above" caused by "plain old racism"?

    What exactly are we evil white Westerners doing to prevent Africans from green manuring, sinking boreholes, terracing their fields, registering their property, etc.?

  • Warty||

    Whoa, is this our first AIDS truther?

    Also, fuck circumcision.

  • ||

    Also, fuck circumcision.

    I was demanding my wife do that just last night!

    Come on, Warty, are you telling me that cutting off part of a child's penis without anesthesia when they are a few days old might NOT be a good thing?

  • jasno||

    Nice to see an article on Africa that doesn't try to blame the (agricultural)ban on DDT.

    What the hell is wrong with circumcision?

  • Cap\'n NoStar||

    C'mon Warty,
    It's too hot to wear a bazooka joe turtle neck all the time.

  • Prefernce||

    I like my mushroom and I don't miss nor remember my anteater.

  • Warty||

    What the hell is wrong with circumcision?

    Nothing that isn't wrong with cutting off little girls' clits.

  • Terry Michael||

    To: R.C. Dean
    I should have been more clear. I was, of course, referring to immune suppressive malaria and malnutrition--not the other things in the list. Thanks for flagging me on it.

  • Jordan||

    Whoa, is this our first AIDS truther?



    Nah. See Obama's spiritual mentor.

  • ||

    it's better than an old school shul where the rabbi bites the foreskin off.

  • ||

    That is just fucking sad.
    I concluded long ago that foreign aid to third world nations was a waste of money at best. Our only success in helping those people has been the eradication of smallpox.

    Depressing, isn't it?

  • ||

    What the hell is wrong with circumcision?

    Nothing that isn't wrong with cutting off little girls' clits.



    Equating the two is moronic, misogynistic or both.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

  • Warty||

    Equating the two is moronic, misogynistic or both.

    If one's bad then so is the other. They only differ in degree.

  • ||

    Nice to see an article on Africa that doesn't try to blame the (agricultural)ban on DDT.

    You mean how millions of Africans, mostly children, might have been saved from dying from malaria if they had been able to use DDT, like, I don't know, the US had done?

    Do you have a problem with children not dying from malaria or are you married to the bad science claiming that it was dangerous to all living things, or whatever bullshit Carson put in Silent Spring?

    I dare you to compare the deaths from malaria just before the ban on DDT and the decade after the ban. The ban on DDT is responsible for more deaths than Hitler. Is that a Goodwin?

  • ||

    Slap the Enlightened-Good stuff. Figures that some petty tyrant would initiate a hate speech inquiry. Wow, I did not know that the Irish can now be prosecuted for hate speech. You know, its racist to suggest that the continent's persistent poverty, corruption, genocide, disease, misery, etc. are the result of anything but caucasian on colored racism.

    Meanwhile, the hate speech legislation is still pending in Congress. If any such measure is passed, Obama will sign it.

    Ah, but its more important to distance ourselves from truthers or big bang deniers and such.

  • ||

    Equating the two is moronic, misogynistic or both.

    If one's bad then so is the other.
    They only differ in degree.



    A stubbed toe and an amputated foot are both podiatric injuries,
    One's bad and so is the other.
    They only differ in degree.

    You know better than that, Warty

  • Warty||

    If you want to use foot analogies, it would be an amputated toe vs. an amputated foot. If you cut off any parts of a baby's foot, everyone would see you as a monster. Cut off some of the naughty bits instead, and it's somehow OK.

    Speaking of Africa and cock modification, this is interesting.

  • The Layman||

    Female circumcision is like a hundred different practices with a hundred different outcomes. It goes from just cutting off the hood (not harming the clit at all) to cutting off the outer labia and sewing the axe wound up. In the first case, it is exactly like male circumcision. The second is quite a bit more intense.

  • Shannon Love||

    People often overlook that every technological hardwire can only function with some legal, ideological and cultural hardwire.

    Consider an airplane. You can have the best aircraft in the world but with a software of accountable procedures, it will soon be a hanger queen or a smoking hole in the ground. You have to train pilots, really train them not just give them a piece of paper because of who their daddy was. You have to have trained mechanic. You have to keep maintenance logs. Oh, and you have to have an organization that build and manage an airport.

    The problem with Africa and many other parts of the world has always been the lack of that software. Few of the various theorist in the last century have paid any attention to this vital factor. For that matter, few people pay any attention to its role in the prosperity of the developed world either.

  • Shannon Love||

    Warty,

    Cut off some of the naughty bits instead, and it's somehow OK.

    Probably because cutting off naughty bits usually solves some purpose such as disease prevention. Certainly, the drop in AIDS rates in circumcised African males strongly suggest that the practice evolved for practical reasons.

    Female circumcision started because in some people of Africa the females have labia majors several inches long. This causes both health problems and aesthetic issues. Therefore, the cultures developed the practice of removing them. The removal of the clitoris seems to be fairly recent Islamic evolution of the practice.

    It is the height of arrogant stupidity to assume that just because we can't immediately see the functionality of a practice that therefore no exist. We are more likely to be seeing our own ignorance.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Only Africa can save Africa.

  • vince||

    "The removal of the clitoris seems to be fairly recent Islamic evolution of the practice."

    It's my understanding that clitoris mutilation is an African tribal custom and not an Islamic one.

  • JB||

    What else do they have in common?

    Africans.

  • bhamba||

    "Certainly, the drop in AIDS rates in circumcised African males strongly suggest that the practice evolved for practical reasons."

    Yup. The ancient practice of performing an unnecessary cosmetic surgery on an infant with an unsterilized blade "evolved" in an age without antibiotics or medical care, because it improved practical outcomes. Nothing like a bout of penile gangrene as an infant to make you live a healthier life.

    I hear it was especially effective in past centuries in preventing AIDS, which didn't emerge until the 20th.

  • Spoonman||

    Male circumcision is stupid. FGM is criminal.

  • Shannon Love||

    vince,

    It's my understanding that clitoris mutilation is an African tribal custom and not an Islamic one.

    Well, clearly it's not a facet of Islam itself but rather the result of the fusion of the misogyny of Arabic Islam with pre-existing African customs. When Islam came to Africa, they took the removal of the labia major and ramped it up, probably as a form of social one-ups-manship.

    The christian and animist cultures in the same region remove the labia major but not the clitoris. I imagine that given cultural osmosis that there is some overlap but the poles of the behavior are quite defined.

    The catholic church attempted to ban the practice back in the early 1900's but catholic girls with 3 inch labia majors had trouble finding a husband so they relented.

  • Warty||

    Shannon, are you defending FGM? If so, that's a first for me.

  • Shannon Love||

    bhamba,

    Yup. The ancient practice of performing an unnecessary cosmetic surgery on an infant with an unsterilized blade "evolved" in an age without antibiotics or medical care, because it improved practical outcomes.

    Well, it does improve long-term outcomes. It's better for the group that a male die as an infant than he die as a young adult from venereal disease. Besides, males are expendable from the perspective of the group.

    I hear it was especially effective in past centuries in preventing AIDS, which didn't emerge until the 20th.

    This may come as a shock but AIDS was not the first venereal disease. The data from Africa is very clear. Circumcised males have significantly lower rates of HIV infection. The same mechanism that prevents HIV transfer most likely prevents the transfer of other microbes as well.

  • Shannon Love||

    Warty,

    Shannon, are you defending FGM? If so, that's a first for me.

    Depends on what you mean by FGM. Destroying the clitoris in order to destroy a woman's sex life is clearly unacceptable. However, removing dangling labia majors is more a matter of cosmetic surgery. It may also have some health advantages now that the women routinely wear clothes, especially underwear.

    It's just important to separate out the customs. Africa has greater cultural diversity than any region in Eurasia. It's important not to lump every culture on a vast diverse continent into one basket.

  • Warty||

    Shannon how's this: it is evil to cosmetically amputate part of someone without consent / before they're old enough to consent. That's all. Fuck your cultural diversity.

  • bhamba||

    The same mechanism that prevents HIV transfer most likely prevents the transfer of other microbes as well.

    The mechanism is unknown. So the conjecture is rampant speculation.

    What is certain is that circumcision does not prevent AIDS. Or any other disease, for that matter.

    The data from Africa is very clear.

    But the data are not clear at all.
    For example:
    http://tinyurl.com/l36t8m

    The effects on transmission are modest, if they exist at all, so it's quite a leap to say that cutting off an infant's foreskin without painkillers, antibiotics, or sterilization would have lead to overall positive health benefits for the community, including for other diseases.

  • ||

    DDT can save Africa ... WHO approved DDT for use in Dec 2006 after trying for 35 years toi find some bad effect caused by DDT. They failed, so the authorized it.

  • ||

    Those with cheesy (uncut) members always feel the need to defend their cheese.

    In uncut males, the foreskin protects the penis resulting in the underlying skin being thinner and more easily torn and abraided. In cut males the exposed skin is thicker and tougher and less easily torn or abraided.

    But I can't figure out the resulting impact on transmission - especially something like aids - hmmmm

  • ||

    Indeed some things remain the same.

    Oddly enough the same case applies in Latin America I read a world bank report from the early 1950s about Guatemala fast forward to the present and many of the health and economic issues remain basicly the same. As do many of the political issues at least in latin America where we are seeing a second wave of neo fascist caudillos arising from the left...

  • ||

    "If one's bad then so is the other. They only differ in degree."

    Just degree, huh? Something like comparing trimming your fingernails with losing your fingers.

  • ||

    No reference to Dambisa Moyo's work on this issue?

    http://www.dambisamoyo.com/

  • ||

    The only thing Africa has produced is the human race. What great invention, what great book, what great scientific discovery, what great intillectual movement, what great advance in agriculture came purely from Africans? None. Europeans get a lot of criticism for colonialism, but if it weren't for the colonials, Africa's vast natural resources would still be in the ground. European farmers fed Africa, but the socialist despots kicked them off the land to "give it back to the rightful owners", and they are starving. Americans and Europeans developed the great gold and diamond mines, found and developed the oil fields, etc. ad nauseum. For all the trillions of dollars in money and commodities poured into that continent over the past two centuries, it is still a broken place. May be just walking away and let them to their own devices might be the best course.

  • Warty||

    Just degree, huh? Something like comparing trimming your fingernails with losing your fingers.

    No, stupid. It would be like comparing losing your fingers at the first knuckle to losing your fingers entirely.

  • StopBono||

    Do gooders have killed more Africans than AIDs and slavery combined. By creating an artificial resource (economic/food/medicine aid) we have created powerful kleptocrats that aren't concerned about the people's welfare, only continuing the flow of free aid. Bigoted white people giving money to "those poor negros who can't help themselves" are the indirect cause. But giving money feels so good!

    The writer James Baldwin said liberals were chicken shit and only interested in masturbatory exercises.

    The right thing to do: Stop helping.

  • bernie||

    StopBono is quite correct; it is time to really help Africa by stop helping. See For Gods Sake - Stop Helping Africa

  • ||

    What bugs me most are the people who think of Africa as one big nature preserve, existing primarily for their own enlightened contemplation. They'll tolerate the Africans, provided they dress in quaint native costume and don't touch the scenery. Meanwhile, local kleptocrats conveniently absorb their guilty money without producing any icky industrial results or imperialistic Western contamination. And the most effective ones help keep the human population picturesquely low. Everybody wins!

    Honestly, given the two alternatives I think colonialism was a much better deal.

  • ||

    I like how it says regisration is the best way to prevent theft. I know that's what works for me!
    It also has worked well for people in Africa whenever a warlord wants to redistribute the wealth to his friends.

    "Mugabe I thought you said I'd get 10% of the farmland occupied by whites?"
    "Sorry they had papers"
    "Damn!"

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