Thursday, September 4, 2008

Impact of discontinuity of aid in Swaziland

Here is an article about how large sum of emergency aid is given for a year and then withdrawn seeing decrease in severity of the cause for aid, leading to more chronic problems. This basically wipes out the gains made under the emergency aid. The money spent is a waste of resources.

Aid money aimed at sustainability is helpful but if it is cut off beforehand seeing initial improved results, then the problems might boomerang. For instance, if two-thirds of the Swaziland population depend on sustenance agriculture, then donors should make sure that along with seeds and fertilizers aid, the 35% of the population suffering from AIDS is taken care of just to keep workforce alive to work in farms!

What happens to a nation whose people depend on the largesse of international donor agencies for their existence, once support is withdrawn?

If forecasts for the small landlocked African nation of Swaziland are an indication, the granting of temporary relief may be followed by a new humanitarian emergency.

..."Why is money available for emergency relief, but not for making farming affordable? Why are there too few tractors? Where is the funding for a self-replenishing seed bank that farmers can draw from?" asked Connie Hlope, one of the few women agricultural field officers in the country. Her job is to advise farmers on planting schedules and tractor hire.

Is Malthus' prediction coming true (obviously, in the absence of technology)?

When Swaziland gained its independence 40 years ago, it routinely recorded food surpluses because a population one third smaller than it is today did not consume as much from available land.

"Three things happened in the intervening decades," noted Carl Dlamini, an agriculture field officer in the central Manzini Region. "The population grew but there wasn’t enough farmland, so new generations moved onto marginal land that could barely produce.

"Secondly, climate change brought droughts that made formerly good land only marginally productive and marginal land completely incapable of producing crops. For the last 15 years much of the eastern Lubombo region has been droughty.

"The third factor cutting into agriculture production has been AIDS."

The horror of AIDS on labor:

Less than 60 percent of Swaziland's arable land is under cultivation, partly due to AIDS decimating the agricultural work force. This year, input costs will be another important limit on agricultural production. Fertiliser costs are expected to be up 200 percent over last year come the height of the planting season in November.