Category: Front Page News:

Front Page News

30,000 children die every day of preventable causes.

Today, and Every Day 30,000 Children Died of Preventable Causes

30,000 children die every day of preventable causes.30,000 kids died unnecessarily today and it didn’t even make the front page of your newspaper.    Another 30,000 kids will die unnecessarily tomorrow, and the day after that,  and the day after that UNLESS something changes.   This shocking information – which should stop anyone with a heart and soul in their tracks – comes not from some science fiction movie but from the United Nations website where you can see if for yourself:

“Eleven million children a year – 30,000 a day – die from preventable or treatable causes”

right here on page 4:

http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mi/pdf/MDG%20Book.pdf

These kids didn’t die in school shootings.   For whatever reason, if any of them had died that way, you would have heard about that on the front page of your newspaper.  But these 30,000 kids that I’m writing about who died today (as well as a different 30,000 kids who died yesterday, and yet another 30,000 who will die tomorrow) their deaths could  EASILY be prevented.  As the United Nations link above at page 18 also notes:

“Most of these children . . . die from a disease or a combination of diseases that can be prevented or treated by existing INEXPENSIVE means.  Sometimes, the cause is as simple as a lack of antibiotics for treating pneumonia or of oral rehydration salts for diarrhoea.  Malnutrition contributes to over half these deaths.”  (For more on unnecessary deaths from hunger see this page.)

The 60 Minutes television news show in the U.S. justaired a segment about combatting child malnutrition with a food product called “Plumpynut”, similar in texture to peanut butter, which was saving kids lives because it contains vitamins and nutrients, and most significantly does not need to be refrigerated.  1 out of 4 people in the world still don’t have electricity (see my front page story on that here), and as 60 Minutes points out, this makes it impossible to give kids milk and other perishable food.  Plumpynut contains sugar which made even the very hungry children – whose extreme hunger had actually taken away their appetite- eat the sweet substance & become revived – and all it took was some nutrients.  Merely providing nutritionstopped child hunger deaths in their tracks. (Errr, yeah, I guess food will have that effect on people and why everyone on the planet should have it maybe?).   See the revival of the lucky recipients depicted on the show for yourself as well as video of the kid for which Plumpynut came just too late at www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/19/60minutes/main3386661.shtml and ask yourself how long the world is going to take to get dire emergency provisions like this to all else who need them; not to mention real food,  electricity, water and sanitation to avoid all this senseless suffering and death.  60 Minutes did not address these questions, nor indicate when real food is being trucked into this area or when food centers or grocery stores will be set up.   Are those people’s lives less worthy than ours? There is enough for all of us, after all.

Over 1.5 billion people do not have electricity.

1 Out of 5 Forced to Live WITHOUT Electricity!

Over 1.5 billion people do not have electricity.

One and half billion people – more than 1 out of every 5 people in the world – have no electricity 1 and the powers-that-be could care less.  In fact, the powers-that-be don’t even care enough about one-fifth of the world lacking electricity to even make a phony promise that they’ll ever get electricity to those who need it.  The United Nations calls their current phony promises “The Millennium Development Goals” or “MDG’s“. 2

Getting electricity to those without it didn’t even make the list of these MDG’s.  In their own words:  “Unfortunately the international community has not taken this issue seriously enough to establish a specific target for energy services in the framework of the MDGs.” 3  Individual countries aren’t pretending to promise anything better either.  “A large number of countries do not have energy access targets in place, particularly for those aspects of energy access that are most crucial for reducing poverty. . . few countries have targets for improving access to energy for meeting basic needs.” 4

It’s hard for us lucky 78 percent of the world to even imagine what it’s like to live without electricity- without refrigeration of food or medicine, without light whenever you want it, without a million other things that you and I take for granted each day.  And living without electricity is not just a mind-boggling inconvenience, it’s also a killer.  When you have no electricity for cooking, heating, or light,  you burn coal, wood, crop residues, and even dung to meet your basic energy needs – and this causes 2 million people to die unnecessarily each year due to inhaling the indoor smoke all this burning causes. 5   That’s more than 5,400 people who die every day, mostly women and children, because they didn’t have electricity – more than who died on 9/11 – and that’s each and every DAY, day after day.   You can read more about this “killer in the kitchen” here:  Fuel for Life, Household Energy and Health at http://www.who.int/indoorair/publications/fuelforlife.pdf (andArchived by WebCite® a thttp://www.webcitation.org/5nW0O1hg2, Accessed: 2010-02-13)

Why isn’t this making the front page of your newspaper?  Why does the Lifetime television network, which supposedly advocates “a wide range of issues affecting women and their families” only show you a killer in the kitchen if he has a knife and one woman gets killed, and not inform you about the 5,400 people, mostly women and children, who die EACH DAY because they don’t have electricity and live like cavemen, surrounding a fire and inhaling billows of smoke into their lungs, just to cook?

Getting electricity to that portion of humanity without it needs to be one of the world’s top priorities.  It needs to be done yesterday.  Electricity will bring so much, in addition to preventing these needless smoke related deaths.  There can be improved water supplies with the introduction of pumps powered by electricity, refrigeration of food and medicine, and of course computers and all the information they can bring.  Should it really be only us who can have these things?  We are our brothers’ keepers.

More on Electricity, the Energy Which Human Beings Need

How Much Would It Cost To Electrify the World? How much would it cost to get universal electricity access throughout the world?  The only estimate I’ve found thus far is this, from the International Energy Agency:

“Expanding access to modern energy is a necessary condition for human development.  With appropriate policies, universal electricity access could be achieved with additional annual investment worldwide of $35 billion (in year-2008 dollars) through to 2030”( 6

The World Energy Council does not have any better estimates as to the cost to electrify the world.  “WEC has not produced any recent estimates but our earlier projections were in line with the ones by IEA you are quoting in your message. However, there is a huge degree of uncertainty in these numbers, as no one really knows today how many people lack access to electricity.  The figures of 1.4 to 2 billion are also best estimates.”, from the World Energy Council’s Director of Programmes’ 2/21/10 private email to this author, full text available upon request to Angie@WhatNewShouldBe.org.  Just like thepowers-that-be have not seen fit to accurately count how many people live and die in this world and of what causes (see http://WhatNewsShouldBe.com/id22.html, the number of those human beings forced to live without electricity are not accurately counted either.)

$35 billion over the course of 22 years is $770 billion.  With the stroke of a pen, the United States gave $700 billion dollars in one fell swoop to bailout Wall Street7, not to rescue humanity from unnecessary death and suffering caused by having to live without electricity.   When will the life and death needs of humanity trump those of the bankers?  At the time of this article, the monetary cost of the war on Iraq to the U.S. has been $725 billion dollars so far, and if you add in Obama’s war on Afghanistan, it’s more than a trillion dollars (see http://www.costofwar.com/ accessed 5/30/10).  When will the life and death needs of humanity trump the warmongers who just cause more death and destruction?

The International Energy Agency admits that if we rely on our capitalist systems and the markets, universal energy access will NEVER happen:

“The task of achieving universal access to electricity is, clearly, formidable but it would contribute substantially to the alleviation of poverty.  The required investment is most unlikely to be driven by the private sector, as in those countries in which electricity access is the lowest there is often no market and there are no guarantees . . . Providing full access means providing electricity to those who are so poor that they have no means to pay.  For these people, the only solution is for the service to be provided by governments or the international community as an investment in future social and income benefits”.  8

This is just another example of how Capitalism and the markets don’t work for humanity.  (See also my page on Obstacles Facing Humanity, subpage Capitalism, coming soon).  We need a better way.

The “Global Warming” Energy Distraction – News of energy is often in the mainstream news these days, except it’s not about getting energy (electricity) to those with none, it’s all about persuading us that we need to switch to more expensive alternative energies, “renewable” and clean “green” energies.   Rather than being about the needless deaths the lack of energy is causing each and every day in the present (5,400 each day, see above), and our need to get energy to people without it in the quickest (and thus cheapest) ways possible, the front page news stories are about the speculative, theoretical, future harm that the continued use of the cheapest traditional fossil fuels used to generate electricity – like oil, coal, and gas –  could cause if theglobal warming theory proved to be correct.    Traditional fossil fuels release “C02” into the air (carbon dioxide, you know, the same gas which we all exhale, and which plants “breath” in),  and the global warming theory speculates that the more C02 released into the air, the hotter the earth will become, and that a hotter earth will be a more dangerous one.    This theory, however, has not held up to real world data, and has proven to be false.  To see how so many got this so wrong, see, http://wnshouldbe.mayfirst.org/?p=138. This global warming bogus theory is simply a weapon of mass distraction, distracting us from the present day pressing need to get energy to the 22 percent of humanity still forced to live without it as fast as we possibly can, without wasting any energy, pun intended, or time on first inventing new alternative and expensive energies on a mass scale.  (And if you’re too hard headed to accept that the ‘global warming theory’ is bogus in spite of the evidence, at least let me put your mind to rest and advise you that even if all of humanity had electricity, “the accompanying increase in primary energy demand and CO2 emissions would be very modest” 9.  Some of the global warming clueless and heartless have even gone so far as to assert “that having 1.5 billion people without electricity is a good thing as this prevents the further release of heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere”, but experts “dismiss this outright, insisting that expanding electricity access to this segment, even with fossil-fuel-based sources, would have only a minuscule impact on global warming.  ‘We have calculated that if all these people would have electricity access — that is, universal electricity access throughout the world — global CO2 emissions will increase only 0.9 percent, which is peanuts’”. 10

Be Careful What You Wish For – Alternative Energies – A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY

The Clean Energy Scam – A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY:  Although getting electrical energy to those without it should be humanity’s energy focus, the bogus global warming theory, as indicated above, puts the focus instead on creating alternative energies which would allegedly release less of the supposedly dangerous carbon dioxide into the air than traditional fuels do.   In March of 2008, Time Magazine published an exposé on one of these alternative energies, biofuels, entitled “The Clean Energy Scam” 11, after it was shown that not only do biofuels NOT release less carbon dioxide, their use also caused food riots around the world.  The article reviewed why biofuels became so popular, big business in fact, and what was later revealed about their effects.  Once upon a time,

“[p]ropelled by mounting anxieties over soaring oil costs and climate change, biofuels became the vanguard of the green-tech revolution, the trendy way for politicians and corporations to show they’re serious about finding alternative sources of energy and in the process slowing global warming.  TheU.S. quintupled its production of ethanol–ethyl alcohol, a fuel distilled from plant matter–in the past decade, and Washington mandated another fivefold increase in renewable fuels over the next decade. Europe has similarly aggressive biofuel mandates and subsidies, and Brazil’s filling stations no longer even offer plain gasoline. Worldwide investment in biofuels rose from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2010, thanks to investors like Richard Branson and George Soros, GE and BP, Ford and Shell, Cargill and the Carlyle Group. Renewable fuels had become one of those motherhood-and-apple-pie catchphrases, as unobjectionable as the troops or the middle class.”

And then most of the world (that portion which didn’t have a financial stake or tie to biofuels, that is) realized that not only did biofuels not reduce the amount of (the allegedly dangerous) carbon dioxide in the environment, they actually increased it, and by using land which had previously been used for food crops for biofuels, food prices increased through the roof and food security for millions of human beings was lost.

“[B]y diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry.” . . . no one checked whether the crops would ultimately replace vegetation and soils that sucked up even more carbon. It was as if the science world assumed biofuels would be grown in parking lots. . . . Not every kernel of corn diverted to fuel will be replaced. Diversions raise food prices, so the poor will eat less. That’s the reason a U.N. food expert recently called agrofuels a “crime against humanity.” . . .Four years ago, two University of Minnesota researchers predicted the ranks of the hungry would drop to 625 million by 2025; last year, after adjusting for the inflationary effects of biofuels, they increased their prediction to 1.2 billion. . . .But the world is still going to be fighting an uphill battle until it realizes that right now, biofuels aren’t part of the solution at all. They’re part of the problem.”

From Time Magazine’s article “The Clean Energy Scam”, 3/28/08, at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1725975,00.html, also archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5nbOvka0p

Other Inconvenient Truths About Alternative Energies

“Here is an inconvenient truth about renewable energy: It can sometimes demand a huge amount of water. Many of the proposed solutions to the nation’s energy problems, from certain types of solar farms to biofuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, could consume billions of gallons of water every year.

Source: Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water, New York Times, 9/30/09

Address : http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/business/energy-environment/30water.html?_r=1&em(Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/5nbPINpQY )

Tiny Tidbits

My Endorsement of the Global Energy Grid by Walter Cronkite

In 2008, non-renewable sources of energy accounted for about 92.7% of total U.S. energy consumption.
Renewable & Alternative Fuels FAQs – Energy Information Administration
http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/Renewables_FAQs.asp#market_share and Archived by WebCite® athttp://www.webcitation.org/5nW2sFE03Accessed: 2010-02-13

Solutions to getting electricity or electrical devices to those without it:

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/lighting-up-the-darkness/?hp

“A new technique that tapped previously inaccessible supplies of natural gas in the United States is spreading to the rest of the world, raising hopes of a huge expansion in global reserves of the cleanest fossil fuel.”
Gas Extraction Method Could Greatly Increase Global Supplies – NYTimes.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/10/business/energy-environment/10gas.html
Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5q65yhImH

“Beyond curbing respiratory problems, a more secure household energy situation enables water to be boiled and thus helps reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases.” http://www.who.int/indoorair/publications/fuelforlife.pdf

FOOTNOTES

  1. [1] “We estimate that 1.5 billion people still lack access to electricity — well over one-fifth of the world’s population.”   The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2009 publication, Executive Summary, p. 7,http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/weo2009/WEO2009_es_english.pdf(Accessed: 2010-01-24 and archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5n1qDSujU).   See also p. 128 of the full 2009 publication, not online, but available in libraries (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/460061910&referer=brief_results) or for purchase (at http://www.iea.org/w/bookshop/add.aspx?id=388 for approximately $163 or 120 Euros).

    See also p. 10 of the November 2009 joint report of the United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization entitled “The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries:  A Review Focusing on the Least Developed Countries and Sub-Saharan Africa,

    http://content.undp.org/go/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=2205620(Accessed: 2010-01-24 and archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5n1qSvLpn ).

    Population of the world is currently around 6.8 billion people: http://www.worldometers.info/population/and http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html Both accessed: 2010-02-11.

    *Realize that the statistic on how many are forced to live without electricity is a very rough guess. “(T)here is a huge degree of uncertainty in these numbers, as no one really knows today how many people lack access to electricity. The figures of 1.4 to 2 billion are also best estimates.”, from the World Energy Council’s Director of Programmes’ 2/21/10 private email to this author, full text available upon request to Angie@WhatNewShouldBe.org.  The powers-that-be haven’t seen fit to count even how many human beings live and die, and of what causes (see http://www.whatnewsshouldbe.com/id22.html ), so the failure to accurately count those living without electricity should not be a surprise either.

  2. [2] See, Current Bogus Problems to Help Humanity at http://whatnewsshouldbe.com/id20.html

    And to see a comparison of the bogus promises of the past to help humanity and the bogus promises of the present, see this page.)

  3. [3] See http://web.archive.org/web/20061006211258/ and http://www2.undp.org.yu/files/news/20041119_energy_poverty.pdf Accessed: 2010-01-24. (Archive at http://www.webcitation.org/5n1p1twA3); See also:  “(w)hile there is no MDG on energy, the global aspirations embodied in the goals will not become a reality without massive increases in the quantity and quality of energy services.  This is needed to meet the most basic needs of poor men and women, especially heat for cooking, and mechanical power.” From Foreword to November 2009 joint report of the United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization entitled “The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries:  A Review Focusing on the Least Developed Countries and Sub-Saharan Africa, http://content.undp.org/go/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=2205620 Accessed: 2010-01-24.  Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5n1qSvLpn
  4. [4] Page 34 of the November 2009 joint report of the United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization entitled “The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries:  A Review Focusing on the Least Developed Countries and Sub-Saharan Africa, http://content.undp.org/go/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=2205620 Accessed: 2010-01-24.  Archived at http:/www.webcitation.org/5n1qSvLpn
  5. [5] Pages 22-28 of  the November 2009 joint report of the United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization entitled “The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries:  A Review Focusing on the Least Developed Countries and Sub-Saharan Africa,http://content.undp.org/go/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=2205620Accessed: 2010-01-24 and Archived athttp:/www.webcitation.org/5n1qSvLpn
  6. [6] The International Energy Agency’sWorld Energy Outlook 2009 publication, Executive Summary, p. 7, http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/weo2009/WEO2009_es_english.pdf(Accessed: 2010-01-24 and archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5n1qDSujU).   See also p. 132 -134 of the full 2009 publication, not online for free, but available in libraries (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/460061910&referer=brief_results) or for purchase (at http://www.iea.org/w/bookshop/add.aspx?id=388for approximately $163 or 120 Euros).
  7. [7] “Bush signs $700 billion financial bailout bill – President promises quick but ‘deliberative’ action to rescue Wall Street”, at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26987291/ (Accessed: 2010-02-13 and archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5nWAV4SK8
  8. [8] The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2009 publication, p. 133, not available online for free, but available in libraries (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/460061910&referer=brief_results) or for purchase (at http://www.iea.org/w/bookshop/add.aspx?id=388 for approximately $163  or 120 Euros), but not online for free.)
  9. [9] The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2009 publication, Executive Summary, p. 7, http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/weo2009/WEO2009_es_english.pdf (Accessed: 2010-01-24 and archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5n1qDSujU).   See also p. 133 of the full 2009 publication, not online for free, but available in libraries (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/460061910&referer=brief_results) or for purchase (at http://www.iea.org/w/bookshop/add.aspx?id=388 for approximately $163 or120 Euros).The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2009 publication, Executive Summary, p. 7, http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/weo2009/WEO2009_es_english.pdf (Accessed: 2010-01-24 and archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5n1qDSujU).   See also p. 133 of the full 2009 publication, not online for free, but available in libraries (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/460061910&referer=brief_results) or for purchase (at http://www.iea.org/w/bookshop/add.aspx?id=388 for approximately $163 or 120 Euros).
  10. [10] One-Quarter of World’s Population Lacks Electricity”: Scientific American, November 24, 2009
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=electricity-gap-developing-countries-energy-wood-charcoal&page=2 (Accessed: 2010-02-13 and archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5nW5hpW9y )
  11. [11] Time Magazine’s article “The Clean Energy Scam”, 3/28/08, athttp://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1725975,00.html, also archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5nbOvka0p
41% of the world's population does not have access to proper sanitation.

What A Shitty Way to Die!

41% of the world's population does not have access to proper sanitation.

What a shitty way to die!  41 percent of humanity, yes you read that right, 41 percent, still shit in the streets because they don’t have proper sanitation, not to mention that “[t]oilet paper is an unimaginable luxury”. (4).  This lack of sanitation leads to the 2nd biggest killer of children -diarrhea.  Really.

First, what do I mean by “shitting in the streets”?  The fancy phrase for this is “not having access to sanitation”, as the United Nations’ Human Development Report 2006 refers to it, and “[n]ot having access to sanitation means that people are forced to defecate in fields, ditches and buckets.”(p.6 of the report.)  This report reveals that only 59 percent of humanity has sustainable access to improved sanitation, which means that 41 percent of humanity doesn’t!  (see the chart on p. 308 of the report).  That’s approximately 2. 6 billion people without access to basic sanitation (p. 5 of report).  Access to basic or “improved” sanitation can  mean nothing more than having access to a pit latrine.

Well, how many people in the world don’t have what you and I have, you know, “access to a private, flush toilet served by a continuous supply of piped water—with taps and toilets in close proximity”?  That’s much better than “basic” sanitation and “[f]rom a health perspective, this [kind of improved sanitation] is optimal.  Human waste is channeled by pipes into sewerage systems and treatment facitlities, ensuring that drinking water is separated from the pathogens carried in faecal material. Meanwhile, taps located in sanitation facilities enable people to maintain personal hygiene”.  The answer is that about 4 BILLION PEOPLE  do NOT have this kind of improved sanitation  (p.112 of the report), which is about two-thirds of the world!

Secondly, the effects of having no choice but to shit in the streets causes diarrhea.  In the U.S. and other ‘first world’ countries, diarrhea is a messy, disgusting inconvenience, but in  ‘third world’ countries diarrhea is DEADLY, the second biggest killer of children in fact:

“Deprivation in water and sanitation produces multiplier effects. The ledger includes the following costs for human development: • Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhoea—4,900 deaths each day or an under-five population equivalent in size to that for London and New Yorkcombined. Together, unclean water and poor sanitation are the world’s second biggest killer of children. Deaths from diarrhoea in 2004 were some six times greater than the average annual deaths in armed conflict for the 1990s.” (p.6 of the report)

“Most deaths from diarrhea . . . are caused by shigella, or bloody diarrhoea. Unlike other forms of diarrhoea, shigella cannot be treated effectively with simple oral rehydration therapies—it requires more costly antibiotics. Even for households that can afford treatment, shigella is a growing threat because it has rapidly developed resistance to antibiotics.”  (p. 43 of report)

“Clean water and sanitation are among the most powerful preventative medicines for reducing child mortality. They are to diarrhea what immunization is to killer diseases such as measles or polio: a mechanism for reducing risk and averting death.” (p.43 of the report)

Anyone reading this webpage is too young to remember and would probably be shocked to learn that:

“Just over a hundred years ago London, New York and Paris were centres of infectious disease, with diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid fever undermining public health. Child death rates were as high then as they are now in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. The rising wealth from industrialization boosted income, but child mortality and life expectancy barely changed.  Sweeping reforms in water and sanitation changed this picture.” (p. 5 of the report)

When are we going to force the world to institute these same sweeping reforms for the 41 percent of humanity still without access to even basic sanitation?  Why doesn’t the fact that 41 percent of humanity are still being forced to live like animals, shitting in the streets, make the front page of your newspaper and stay there until it’s no longer true?

Did you go to the bathroom today?  I mean that question literally.  If you did go to an actual bathroom, do you know that’s only by virtue of where you were lucky enough to be born?  The unlucky ones deserve our front page attention, don’t you think?

Many people do not have access to clean water.

17 Percent of Humanity Without Access to Clean Water

Many people do not have access to clean water.*17 percent of humanity without access to clean water, that’s more than 1.1 BILLION people, and this has nothing to do with water scarcity.  There is plenty to go around.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN “NOT HAVING ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER”?

 

“Not having access” to water and sanitation is a polite euphemism for a form of deprivation that threatens life, destroys opportunity and undermines human dignity.  Being without access to water means that people resort to ditches, rivers and lakes polluted with human or animal excrement or used by animals. It also means not having sufficient water to meet even the most basic human needs.”

-Page 5 of the United Nations’ Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

It’s “a euphemism for profound deprivation.  It means that people live more than 1 kilometre from the nearest safe water source and that they collect water from drains, ditches or streams that might be infected with pathogens and bacteria that can cause severe illness and death”.

Page 33 of the United Nations’ Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

 

17 PERCENT OF HUMANITY WITHOUT ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER !!

 

17 Percent of the World’s Population does not have sustainable access to an improved water source, per the chart on 308 of the Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

 

“For some 1.1 billion people, sufficient, safe, acceptable, accessible and affordable water for life is a hope for the future, not a reality for the present.”

Page 77 of the United Nations’ Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

 

WOMEN & WATER

 

Is the following one of the most ridiculous things you’ve heard of in the 21st Century?

“Women bear the brunt of responsibility for collecting water, often spending up to 4 hours a day walking, waiting in queues and carrying water.”

Page 23 of the Human Development Report 2006,Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

 

WOMEN & SANITATION

 

In addition to not having water access to safe water for drinking or washing, 41 percent of humanity shit in the streets because they don’t have access to toilets or other sanitation facilities.  (See the front page article “What A Shitty Way To Die! here.)  But with respect to Women & Sanitation note that:

 

Cultural norms strictly require that women not be seen defecating – a requirement that forces them to leave home before dawn or after nightfall to maintain privacy.  As one woman in Bangladesh put it. ‘Men can answer the call of nature anytime they want . . . but women have to wait until darkness, no matter what problem she has’.  Delaying bodily functions is a major cause of liver infection and acute constipation in many countries.”  

-Page 48 of the Human Development Report 2006,Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

THE ANGUISH AND SUFFERING CAUSED BY UNSAFE WATER IS “BEYOND ESTIMATION

“Water-related illness accounts for about 5% of the global burden of disease.  The anguish and suffering associated with that burden are beyond estimation.”

-Page 46 of the Human Development Report 2006,Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

The water disease, Trachoma, for just one example, can make a person feel like their eyelids are being bitten by a dog or being scratched by a thorn that just cannot be removed, and is estimated to have already caused almost 6 million people to become needlessly blind.

 

Page 46 of the United Nations’ report Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

lists the above and other examples of water-related illnesses and the death and suffering they cause.

 

BUT THERE’S ENOUGH WATER IN THE WORLD FOR EVERYONE!

 

“[T]here is more than enough water to go around and meet all of humanity’s needs.”

-Page 13 of the Human Development Report 2006,Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

 

“The world has the technology, the finance and the human capacity to remove the blight of water insecurity from millions of lives”.

-Page 28 of the Human Development Report 2006,Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

 

“Of course, water consumption in rich countries does not diminish water availability in poor countries. Global consumption is not a zero-sum game in which one country gets less if another gets more.”

-Page 35 of the Human Development Report 2006,Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

 

“Globally, there is more than enough water for domestic purposes, for agriculture, and for industry.”  P. 123 of  World Bank’s  2007 World Development Indicators report athttp://tinyurl.com/2epton

 

“At the start of the 21st century we have the finance, technology and capacity to consign the water and sanitation crisis to history just as surely as today’s rich counties did a century ago.”

-Page VI in Foreword of the Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

“There is more than enough water in the world for domestic purposes, for agriculture and for industry. The problem is that some people – notably the poor – are systematically excluded from access by their poverty, by their limited legal rights or by public policies that limit access to the infrastructures that provide water for life and for livelihoods.”

-Page 3 of the Human Development Report 2006,Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

The United Nations calls their current phony bullshit promises “The Millenium Development Goals” or “MDG’s”.  (To see a comparison of the bullshit promises of the past to help humanity and the bullshit promises of the present, see this page.) As indicated above, there’s enough water for all but their Millenium Development Goal is still only to:

“By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water”

http://tinyurl.com/33dejy

Without even addressing the moral repugnancy of only aiming to provide relief to HALF of those in need when there’s enough for everyone, note that the United Nations 2006 Report indicates that they won’t even come close to that morally repugnant 50 percent goal which they gave themselves 15 years to reach. As it stands now:

-for water the Arab States are 27 years off track

-the water target will be missed by 234 million people, with 55 countries off track

-The sanitation target will be missed by 430 million people, with 74 countries off track.

-Sub-Saharan Africa will miss the water target by a full generation and the sanitation target by more than two generations.

-The above is taken from page 57 of the Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

This is unconscionable.

If you are only moved by statistics concerning children, note that:

“Water is essential to human life. More than 400 million children do not have regular access to clean drinking water, leaving them vulnerable to disease and early death. Water must therefore be maintained as a common good and the right to water considered as a human right. All Governments must respect the human right of every person to have regular, healthy and unobstructed access to an amount of water adequate in quality and quantity to sustain life”

-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 20 at:   http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz

“Not having access” to water and sanitation is a polite euphemism for a form of deprivation that threatens life, destroys opportunity and undermines human dignity. Being without access to water means that people resort to ditches, rivers and lakes polluted with human or animal excrement or used by animals. It also means not having sufficient water to meet even the most basic human needs.”

-Page 5 of the United Nations’ Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf

It’s “a euphemism for profound deprivation. It means that people live more than 1 kilometre from the nearest safe water source and that they collect water from drains, ditches or streams that might be infected with pathogens and bacteria that can cause severe illness and death”.

Page 33 of the United Nations’ Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis at

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr06-complete.pdf+

Hunger - A Shame on Humanity

Hunger – “A Shame On Humanity”

Hunger - A Shame on Humanity

In 2007, 854 million people do not get enough food each day to sustain a normal life even though there’s plenty of food for everyone! Hunger and malnutrition are actually “the underlying CAUSE OF MORE THAN HALF OF ALL CHILD DEATHS”.   Hunger is also INCREASING in the world instead of decreasing.  Read this story for details and weep (and then get angry and consider what should be done).  I let the food & hunger experts speak for themselves:

 

“Our planet produces enough food to feed its entire population.  Yet, tonight, 854 million women, men and children will be going to sleep on an empty stomach.

-Address by Dr Jacques Diouf, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at the World Food Day Ceremony inRome on October 16, 2007, at http://tinyurl.com/3yfszk on page 2.

 

“Every five seconds one child under the age of 5 dies from hunger or malnutrition-related disease.  Every four minutes, one person loses his or her eyesight for lack of vitamin A.   More than 852 million people do not get enough food each day to sustain a normal life.  This is a shame on humanity.  It is time to enforce the right to food.”

-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 20 at:   http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz

 

“The Special Rapporteur is gravely concerned to report to the Commission that global hunger is continuing to increase. At least 852 million children, women, and men are gravely and permanently undernourished.  Millions of people die every year for lack of food.”

-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 2 at:   http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz

 

HUNGER CAUSES MORE THAN HALF OF ALL CHILD DEATHS:

“As the underlying cause of more than half of all child deaths, hunger and malnutrition are the greatest obstacle to reducing child mortality.”

State of Food Insecurity in the World – 2005, Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, page 4 at

ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/008/a0200e/a0200e.pdf

 

ALL THE DEATH IS UNNECESSARY – THERE IS ENOUGH FOR ALL

“Hunger and famine are not inevitable, and are not acceptable in a world that is richer than ever before.

-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 18 at:  http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz

 

“We already produce more than enough food to provide an adequate diet for everyone.”

-From The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2002, Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at http://tinyurl.com/366pve .

 

“In a world overflowing with riches, it is an outrageous scandal that more than 826 million people suffer hunger and malnutrition and that every year over 36 million die of starvation and related causes . We must take urgent action now.”

Jean Ziegler, April 2001, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, at http://www.righttofood.org/.

 

“What is the State of Hunger in the World Today?

The shocking news is that global hunger increased yet again this year. The FAO’s latest report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2004, reports that hunger has increased to 852 million gravely undernourished children, women and men, compared to 842 million last year, despite already warning in 2003 of a “setback in the war against hunger”. Important recent progress in reducing hunger has been made, but the overall trend is now one of regression, rather than the progressive realization of the right to food. In fact, it appears that hunger has increased every year since the 1996 World Food Summit.

 

Many of the women, men and children suffering from chronic undernourishment suffer from what the FAO calls ‘extreme hunger’.  This means that their daily ration of calories is well below the minimum necessary for survival.  Many people die on a daily basis from starvation. Malnourishment also heightens vulnerability to other illnesses and almost always has serious physical and mental effects – the lack of brain cell development, inadequate growth.  Serious malnutrition can also be hereditary, as many malnourished mothers gives birth to malnourished and seriously affected babies.”

-The above 3 paragraphs are copied from the Home page of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food at:  http://www.righttofood.org/ .

 

“Hunger and famine are never inevitable, but usually result from the action or inaction of Governments.”

-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 2 at:   http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz

 

“In a world richer than ever before, it is unacceptable that people can be left to die of starvation.”

-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 8 at:   http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz

 

“We do not have the excuse that we cannot grow enough or that we do not know enough about how to eliminate hunger. What remains to be proven is that we care enough, that our expressions of concern in international fora are more than rhetoric, that we will no longer accept and ignore the suffering of 840 million hungry people in the world . . . We already produce more than enough food to provide an adequate diet for everyone.”

-From the Foreword of the State of Food Insecurity in the World – 2002, Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations athttp://tinyurl.com/2f667h .

 

“Despite the promise made by Member States to halve hunger in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals, the shocking news is that globally, hunger is continuing to increase. . . In fact, it appears that hunger has increased every year since the World Food Summit in 1996 (FAO, 2004), even though the world is richer than ever before and can already produce enough food to feed more than double the world’s population.”

-Statement by Jean Ziegler, United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food on the Occasion of World Food Day, 16 October 2005 at http://tinyurl.com/yt8o9e

 

“[W]hy have we allowed hundreds of millions of people to go hungry in a world that produces more than enough food for every woman, man and child?  Bluntly stated, the problem is not so much a lack of food as a lack of political will. The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in rural areas of the developing world, far from the levers of political power and beyond the range of vision of the media and the public in developed countries. Except when war or a natural calamity briefly focuses global attention and compassion, little is said and less is done to put an end to the suffering of a “continent of the hungry.”

-From the Foreword of the The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2003, Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations athttp://tinyurl.com/2yma7b.

 

Now on this website, in which I seek to bring front page attention to the most serious problems affecting humanity as news should do, I have not comprehensively analyzed the problems’ possible causes or proposed solutions and their current status.  I leave that to better and more well read and informed minds than mine – but that is exactly what should be in each newspaper on oh, pages 2 through 10, every single day, and what should take up the most time in televised news programs before national and local news is mentioned.   Maybe you, reading this now, will create a website containing some of that, or turn us on to websites which are already out there doing so.  Why not you?    And, so although there will be no comprehensive analysis of causes and proposed solutions here on this site, I will endeavor to update these webpages & the blog on this site with tidbits here and there which I do come across in that regard, or which people email me about.

 

With respect to hunger for example, I note that recently the New York Times reported on an internal evaluation of the World Bank criticizing itself on its role regarding agriculture in Africa.  The 10/15/07 article entitled “World Bank Neglects African Farming, Study Says”, at http://tinyurl.com/2tdwxy , starts off as follows:

“The World Bank, financed by rich nations to reduce poverty in poor ones, has long neglected agriculture in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa, where most people depend on the farm economy for their livelihoods, according to a new internal evaluation.”

 

Neglected?  The World Bank merely neglected agriculture?  Nope, not true. Reading on in the Times article which summarizes the World Bank’s internal evaluation, we see that the World Bank actually AFFIRMATIVELY PUSHED African governments to devote less to agriculture for their citizens:

“In the 1980s and 1990s, when African governments faced severe fiscal crises,the bank pushed for the public sector — often badly managed and inefficient — to pull back from agriculture, incorrectly assuming that market forces would jump-start agricultural growth.”(Emphasis supplied).

Hmmm, with people starving, and with most people depending on the farm economy for their livelihood, the plan was to, well, maneuver governments away from helping their farmers grow food.  I see.  So, how did that work out?  The article indicated:

“In most reforming countries, the private sector did not step in to fill the vacuum when the public sector withdrew,” the evaluation found. One result, it said, is that farmers face practical obstacles: exorbitant fertilizer prices and shortages of credit and improved seeds.

 

Following mention of such admission of the World Bank’s own internal evaluation, the Times article indicates that those who conducted the evaluation are now advising the World Bank to change its course and do an about face:

“At a time of growing debate about how to combat hunger in Africa, the evaluation team recommended that the bank, the single largest donor for African agriculture, concentrate on helping farmers get the basics they need to grow and market more food: fertilizer, seeds, water, credit, roads.”

So, let’s see.  First, the World Bank coerces African governments into hindering their farmers from getting the very basics they need (and coercing is exactly what it was as you’ll see below in World Bank admissions), and now they indicate, well, oops, maybe assisting farmers in getting fertilizer, seeds, water, functioning roads, etc. would actually lead to the growing of food which people could eat to stave off their hunger, not to mention maintain their livelihoods.  Interesting.

 

The World Bank coerced unbelievably impoverished African governments which were in the midst of “severe fiscal crises to “pull back from agriculture” by making such behavior a requirement before they would grant loans to these desperate countries. This was the World Bank’s “structuraladjustment” arms twisting policy.  Let’s go now, not to the Times article again, but to the very World Bank internal evaluation report that the Times’ article was written about.  It’s called “World Bank Assistance to Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa – An IEG Review”, on the internet at this address:  at http://tinyurl.com/2us557 .   There, in the World Bank internal evaluators’ own words you’ll find the following:

“In the era before adjustment lending, many African countries relied on subsidies to get fertilizers to farmers at a reasonable price. With the removal of subsidies, fertilizer prices have soared.” (page 15)

“What followed was an era of structural adjustment reforms when, under pressure from the Bank and the IMF, several governments undertook major reforms.” (page 40)

 

Why was pressure necessary? Apparently the pressure was necessary because these African governments weren’t stupid and realized that withdrawing their governments’ support from farmers when their livelihoods depended upon it and they already had people starving in their lands was likely only to worsen their problems.  They didn’t want to go along with the withdrawal of support to their farmers and so had to be forced into it. As the World Bank’s internal evaluators note:

“The lack of initial enthusiasm for policy reform by African leaders probably reflected doubts about how responsive the economy would be to these reforms (Jayne and others 1997). Hence, reforms were often undertaken because they were a condition of a Bank loan.” (page 40).

 

“[A] significant part of this reform was attempted in the late 1980s and 1990s through policy advice and structural and sectoral adjustment credits (now called development policy lending)” (page 63)

“Since 1980 more than 30 countries have undertaken agricultural policy reforms as part of the broader adjustment agenda” (page 63)

 

“In most African countries, Bank-supported adjustment investment projects sought to phase out the provision of agricultural services (page 64).

 

And what did the World Bank’s own internal evaluators find to be the results of this plan it had “pressured” the African Governments to implement:

“In the literature there is consensus that the reform program fell short of achieving its expected outcome.”  (p. 64)

 

“Fell short of achieving its expected outcome”.  Wow, they sure know how to put words together, don’t they?  I guess by that they mean their structural adjustment reform policy FAILED.    Hmm and what does failure mean in this context?

 

“Perhaps the biggest shortcoming is that the reform process had limited impact on food production. The average annual growth rate for agriculture value added was negative throughout the 1980s and 1990s.  In most reforming countries, the private sector did not step in to fill the vacuum when the public sector withdrew.” (Page 65)

 

“Limited impact on food production”? There they go again.  The World Bank coerces the governments to create an agriculture VACUUM, nothing else kicks in to fill the vacuum thus created, and the result is a “limited impact on food production”?  Oh, but the evaluators did note that the annual growth rate for agricultural  throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s was, what was that again?  Oh yeah, it was “negative” .  Which means in World Bank-speak, I guess, that not only did agricultural in these starving countries not improve on average year after year during this 20 year period, it got worse!   For other examples of “relief” efforts we’re told will help that in fact HURT the most desperate of human beings, see “Why There Are No AIDS Statistics on My Site”.

 

“Bank policy advice appears to have had far reaching implications for the direction of agricultural development in African countries, in particular its policy advice associated with the adjustment agenda.” (page 27)

 

No kidding!

“[R]esults have fallen short of expectations because of weak political support and insufficient appreciation of reality on the ground, among other things”. (page 27)

 

“Insufficient appreciation of reality on the ground”? I get it.  This apparently means they didn’t have the facts, didn’t know what the hell they were doing, and didn’t listen to those who did have an “appreciation of reality on the ground”.

 

Alright already, that’s all water under the bridge though, anyway, right?  The World Bank is now back on course and will now actually try to fulfill its stated mission of being “a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world . . . in our mission of global poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards”(http://go.worldbank.org/3QT2P1GNH0 ), won’t they?  In your dreams only.    Of course, the World Bank and others will continue to give their mission lip service.  A week after they released their internal evaluation report, for example, the  World Bank released another report.  The New York Times wrote about this new report in a 10/20/07 article entitled “World Bank Report Puts Agriculture at Core of Antipoverty Effort” at http://tinyurl.com/265eoq.  The Times notes that:

 

“For the first time in a quarter century, the World Bank’s flagship annual report on development puts agriculture and the productivity of small farmers at the heart of a global agenda to reduce poverty.  . .”

More broadly, the report crystallizes an emerging consensus among wealthy countries, philanthropists and African governments: Increased public investment in scientific research, rural roads, irrigation, credit, fertilizer and seeds — the basics of an agricultural economy — is crucial to helping Africa’s poor farmers grow more sorghum, corn, millet, cassava and rice on their miniature plots. . .

“[t]he bank, the world’s leading development institution and financier of antipoverty programs, plays a unique role in advising poor countries, and its return to agriculture is likely to influence practical policies across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where hundreds of millions of farmers and landless laborers are still mired in poverty.”

 

Sounds promising, right?  Seems like they’re finally putting two and two together.  You know, mmmm, functioning roads good.  Irrigation and seeds, good.  But please don’t get your expectations up for even a second because the New York Times continues:

 

“In the effort to bring an agrarian revolution to Africa, much of the debate from now on will focus on the role that African governments should play in spurring farm productivity. Economists who have read the World Development Report said there was clearly still a great deal of ferment and disagreement within the bank about many of the particulars. For example, should African governments give farmers subsidies to buy fertilizer, and under what conditions?”

 

And then, the Times’ quotes one of the two authors of this new World Bank report, Professor de Janvry.  He told theNew York Times that:

 

“Professor de Janvry said the report was not meant to settle the complicated and difficult policy questions, but “to change the conversation.”

 

People are right now DYING of starvation, people whose numbers have been exacerbated by his bank’s policyand he’s . . .  – well you read what the report’s co-author said.   Can you believe these people?

The text of the new report itself (World Bank’s 2008 Development Report entitled “Agriculture for Development” at http://tinyurl.com/2fbkl4 ) should also divest you of any hope.  It explicitly, in fact, states you shouldn’t have any:

 

“It cannot be assumed, however, that the agriculture-for-development agenda will succeed even if conditions are better now.” (page 265)

 

Why not?  One of the reasons is probably because, as the report’s conclusion continues:

“Sound agricultural development strategies require stronger capacity for policy analysis and evaluation, and a commitment to evidence-based policy making. “ (page 265)

 

Evidence or fact-based policy making, ah oh.    We know the World Bank doesn’t do fact-based policy making, remember?  They operate for decades at a time without an “appreciation of reality on the ground”.

 

For a recent African agriculture success story, see this 12/7/07 article in the New York Times athttp://tinyurl.com/24sow3 .  The headline really says it all:  “Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts”.   Here’s just a small excerpt:

 

“But this year, a nation that has perennially extended a begging bowl to the world is instead feeding its hungry neighbors. It is selling more corn to the World FoodProgram of the United Nations than any other country in southern Africa and is exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.  In Malawiitself, the prevalence of acute child hunger has fallen sharply. In October, the United Nations Children’s Fund sent three tons of powdered milk, stockpiled here to treat severely malnourished children, to Uganda instead. “We will not be able to use it!” Juan Ortiz-Iruri, Unicef’s deputy representative in Malawi, said jubilantly. Farmers explain Malawi’s extraordinary turnaround — one with broad implications for hunger-fighting methods across Africa— with one word: fertilizer.  Over the past 20 years, the World Bank and some rich nations Malawi depends on for aid have periodically pressed this small, landlocked country to adhere to free market policies and cut back or eliminate fertilizer subsidies, even as the United States and Europe extensively subsidized their own farmers. But after the 2005 harvest, the worst in a decade, Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s newly elected president, decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached.”

 

Also, of course, none of this discussion on agriculture concerns how to get emergency food to those hungering for it right this  minute, without waiting for a harvest.  There is already enough food for everyone and we are capable of doing that.  See this link.

 

In the meantime, let’s us “change the conversation”, to spread the word about what the news should be and decide on necessary IMMEDIATE ACTIONS so we’ll never again have to read World Bank and other so-called relief efforts’ Self-Assessment reports which demonstrate they’ve actually HURT the people they promised us they were going to help.  They’ve got blood on their hands and the same people are in charge, you know “debating” stuff.   As long as these so-called relief efforts continue without our daily front page attention, there will always just be more of the same.  20 years ago, for example, there was this:

 

“In a self-assessment in 1987, the World Bank found 106 out of 189 African development projectsaudited -almost 60 percent -had serious shortcomings or were complete failures. African agriculture projects failed 75 percent of the time.”

 

The above quote was copied from a CBS-5 news article of 12/18/07 entitled “Road Reflects Why $568 Billion in Aid to Africa has largely failed” which also notes that:

 

In the 50 years since the first African countries won independence, the world has spent $568 billion on Africa.  Yet Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, and much of the money has ended up on the road to nowhere.

Yes, the conversation (and the action) simply cannot be left to them anymore. It’s so clear.  They’ve already shown their incompetence.  They’ve already shown that they truly, no matter what they say, have no concept that they’re dealing with immediate life and death, and as you can see, there’s no end in sight to their, at best, continuing incompetence, no hope from them, internal studies or no internal studies, as people continue to die unnecessarily of hunger.

 

The news media too are totally desensitized to the magnitude of the life and death stories they report on only periodically.   This is FRONT PAGE stuff here, news which should be and REMAIN on the front page until the unnecessary death and suffering of huge chunks of humanity is a thing of the past.   It’s what News Should Be. Pass it on.

——————————————————–

**Update – see how hunger is being covered in the U.S. news media in July & August, 2011, after a “famine” was officially declared in parts of Somalia at: 

http://www.whatnewsshouldbe.org/blog/hunger-is-getting-some-play-in-media-recently

Millions Suffering Even Though Painkillers Are Abundant

Copied below is an article that actually did appear on the front page of a newspaper, entitled “Drugs Banned, World’s Poor Suffer in Pain”, on 9/10/07 in the New York Times.   Did you happen to see it?   I missed it myself, but someone told me about it.   Since it concerns the needless suffering of millions of people, you would think the topic would remain front page news until the needless suffering was ended, but you’d be wrong.  Before the complete text of the article is presented, here are some excerpts:

“The World Health Organization estimates that 4.8 million people a year with moderate to severe cancer pain receive no appropriate treatment.  Nor do another 1.4 million with late-stage AIDS.  For other causes of lingering pain – burns, car accidents, gunshots, diabetic nerve damage, sicklecell disease and so on – it issues no estimates but believes that millions go untreated.  

Figures gathered by the International Narcotics Control Board, a United Nations agency, make it clear: citizens of rich nations suffer less.  Six countries – the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Britain and Australia – consume 79 percent of the world’s morphine, according to a 2005 estimate.  The poor and middle-income countries where 80 percent of the world’s people live consumed only about 6 percent.  Some countries imported virtually none. . .

At pain conferences, doctors from Africa describe patients whose pain is so bad that they have chosen other remedies – hanging themselves or throwing themselves in front of trucks. . .

Morphine’s raw ingredient – opium – is not in short supply. . . Nor is it expensive, even by the standards of developing nations.  One hospice in Uganda, for example, mixes its own liquid morphine so cheaply that a three-week supply costs less than a loaf of bread.  Nevertheless, it is still routinely denied in many poor countries.”

 

For educational and informational purposes the complete text of the article is copied below:

 

September 10, 2007

 

New York Times

Drugs Banned, Many of World’s Poor Suffer in Pain

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

 

 WATERLOO, Sierra Leone — Although the rainy season was coming on fast, Zainabu Sesay was in no shape to help her husband. Ditches had to be dug to protect their cassava and peanuts, and their mud hut’s palm roof was sliding off.

But Mrs. Sesay was sick. She had breast cancer in a form that Western doctors rarely see anymore — the tumor had burst through her skin, looking like a putrid head of cauliflower weeping small amounts of blood at its edges.

“It bone! It booonnnne lie de fi-yuh!” she said of the pain — it burns like fire — in Krio, the blended language spoken in this country where British colonizers resettled freed slaves.

No one had directly told her yet, but there was no hope — the cancer was also in her lymph glands and ribs.

Like millions of others in the world’s poorest countries, she is destined to die in pain. She cannot get the drug she needs — one that is cheap, effective, perfectly legal for medical uses under treaties signed by virtually every country, made in large quantities, and has been around since Hippocrates praised its source, the opium poppy. She cannot get morphine.

That is not merely because of her poverty, or that of Sierra Leone. Narcotics incite fear: doctors fear addicting patients, and law enforcement officials fear drug crime. Often, the government elite who can afford medicine for themselves are indifferent to the sufferings of the poor.

The World Health Organization estimates that 4.8 million people a year with moderate to severe cancer pain receive no appropriate treatment. Nor do another 1.4 million with late-stage AIDS. For other causes of lingering pain — burns, car accidents, gunshots, diabetic nerve damage, sickle-cell disease and so on — it issues no estimates but believes that millions go untreated.

Figures gathered by the International Narcotics Control Board, a United Nations agency, make it clear: citizens of rich nations suffer less. Six countries — the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Britain and Australia — consume 79 percent of the world’s morphine, according to a 2005 estimate. The poor and middle-income countries where 80 percent of the world’s people live consumed only about 6 percent.

Some countries imported virtually none. “Even if the president gets cancer pain, he will get no analgesia,” said Willem Scholten, a World Health Organization official who studies the issue.

In 2004, consumption of morphine per person in the United States was about 17,000 times that in Sierra Leone.

At pain conferences, doctors from Africa describe patients whose pain is so bad that they have chosen other remedies: hanging themselves or throwing themselves in front of trucks.

Westerners tend to assume that most people in tropical countries die of malaria, AIDS, worm diseases and unpronounceable ills. But as vaccines, antibiotics and AIDS drugs become more common, more and more are surviving past measles, infections, birth complications and other sources of a quick death. They grow old enough to die slowly of cancer.

About half the six million cancer deaths in the world last year were in poor countries, and most diagnoses were made late, when death was inevitable. But first, there was agony. About 80 percent of all cancer victims suffer severe pain, the W.H.O. estimates, as do half of those dying of AIDS.

Morphine’s raw ingredient — opium — is not in short supply. Poppies are grown for heroin, of course, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But vast fields for morphine and codeine are also grown in India, Turkey, France, Australia and other countries.

Nor is it expensive, even by the standards of developing nations. One hospice in Uganda, for example, mixes its own liquid morphine so cheaply that a three-week supply costs less than a loaf of bread.

Nonetheless, it is still routinely denied in many poor countries.

“It’s the intense fear of addiction, which is often misunderstood,” said David E. Joranson, director of the Pain Policy Study Group at the University of Wisconsin’s medical school, who has worked to change drugs laws around the world. “Pain relief hasn’t been given as much attention as the war on drugs has.”

Doctors in developing countries, he explained, often have beliefs about narcotics that prevailed in Western medical schools decades ago — that they are inevitably addictive, carry high risks of killing patients and must be used sparingly, even if patients suffer.

Pain experts argue that it is cruel to deny them to the dying and that patients who recover from pain can usually be weaned off. Withdrawal symptoms are inevitable, they say — as they are if a diabetic stops insulin. But the benefits outweigh the risks.

Too Poor for Medicine

In Mrs. Sesay’s case, Alfred Lewis, a nurse from Shepherd’s Hospice, is doing what he can to ease her last days.

When he first saw her, her tumor was wrapped with clay and leaves prescribed by a local healer. The smell of her rotting skin made her feel ashamed.

She had seen a doctor at one of many low-cost “Indian clinics” who pulled at the breast with forceps so hard that she screamed, misdiagnosed her tumor as an infected boil, and gave her an injection in her buttocks that abscessed, adding to her misery.

Nothing can be done about the tumor, Mr. Lewis explained quietly. “All the bleeders are open,” he said. “Her risk now is hemorrhage. Only a knife-crazy surgeon would attend to her.”

Earlier diagnosis would probably not have changed her fate. Sierra Leone has no CAT scanners, and only one private hospital offers chemotherapy drug treatment. The Sesays are sharecroppers; they have no money.

So Mr. Lewis was making a daily 10-mile trip from Freetown, the capital, to change her dressing, sprinkle on antibiotics, and talk to her. He asked a neighbor to plait her hair for her, so she would look pretty. Mrs. Sesay said she could not be bothered.

“It’s necessary for to cope,” he said. “For to strive for be happy.”

“I ‘fraid for my life,” she said.

“Are you ‘fraid for die?”

“No, I not ‘fraid. I ready.”

“So what is your relationship to God? You good with God?”

“I pray me one.”

He asked her, half-jokingly, if she still had sex with her husband.

No, she said, since the illness, he stayed in his room and she stayed in hers. She, too, was joking. In their hut, there is only the one room.

Life has become hard, she added, and her husband is getting too old for farm labor. She, too, is getting old, she said — she is somewhere in her 40s.

“We are really being punish.”

For her pain, Mr. Lewis gave her generic Tylenol and tramadol, a relative of codeine that is only 10 percent as potent as morphine. It was all he could offer. “I would consider putting her on morphine now, if we had morphine,” Mr. Lewis said.

In New York, she would have already started on it, or an equivalent like oxycodone or fentanyl.

Even if his hospice could get it, Mr. Lewis could not give it to her.

Under Sierra Leone law, morphine may be handled only by a pharmacist or doctor, explained Gabriel Madiye, the hospice’s founder. But in all Sierra Leone there are only about 100 doctors — one for every 54,000 people, compared with one for every 350 in the United States.

In only a few places — in Uganda, for example — does the law allow trained nurses to prescribe morphine.

And pharmacists will not stock it.

“It’s opioid phobia,” Mr. Madiye said. “We are coming out of a war where a lot of human rights violations were caused by drug abuse.”

During the war, the rebel assault on the capital was called Operation No Living Thing. Child soldiers were hardened with mysterious drugs with names like gunpowder and brown-brown, along with glue and alcohol.

Esther Walker, a British nurse who sometimes works with Mr. Lewis, said she once gave a lecture on palliative care at the national medical school.

There were 28 students, and she asked them, “Who has seen someone die peacefully in Sierra Leone?”

“Not one had,” she said.

The Burden on the Young

In the poorest countries like this one, even babies suffer.

Momoh Sesay, 2, (no relation to Zainabu) is a pretty lucky little guy — for someone who tumbled into a cooking pot of boiling water.

He lost much of the skin on his thighs, and his belly is speckled with burns as if he had been sloshed with pink paint.

But he was fortunate enough to live close to Ola During Children’s Hospital, the leading pediatric institution.

No doctor was in. There was not even any electricity. At night, nurses thread IV lines into babies’ tiny limbs by candlelight. “And our eyes are not magnets,” one of them, Josephine Maajenneh Sillah, complained.

But they knew Momoh would die of shock and pumped in intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

If he had been born in New York, Momoh would have had skin grafts. Here, that is unthinkable.

Momoh was given saline washes, and his dead skin was scrubbed off with debridement, a painful procedure. In New York, he would have had morphine.

So probably would Abdulaziz Sankoh, 7, in another bed, who has sickle cell disease. He moans at night when twisted blood cells clump together and jam the arteries in his spindly legs, slowly killing his bone marrow.

As would Musa Shariff, an 8-month-old boy whose scalp is so swollen by meningitis that his eyelids cannot close. Dr. Muctar Jalloh, the hospital director, said he would not prescribe morphine to babies or toddlers if he had it. Only in the case of third-degree burns, like Momoh’s, did he say: “I would consider it — maybe.”

That flies in the face of Western medicine, which allows careful use even in premature infants.

The strongest painkiller that Momoh, Abdulaziz and Musa can take, if their parents can afford $1.65 per vial, is tramadol. It is impossible to know what morphine would cost if it were here, but it is sold in India at 1.7 cents a pill by the same company that makes tramadol.

The nurses know the prices because they sell the drugs that are available. They have not been paid for three years, they say, so they support themselves in part by filling the prescriptions that the doctors write. Kind as they are — they do extend credit, and are sometimes moved to charity by the children — it is a business.

That is the other reason Dr. Jalloh said he would not order morphine. “I wouldn’t want to leave my staff in charge of morphine,” he said. “The potential for abuse is so high.”

Worries About Abuse

If morphine were to be imported to Sierra Leone, it would be overseen by two agencies: the National Pharmacy Board and the National Drugs Control Agency.

Kande Bangura, the rangy, sharp-eyed former police commander who runs the drug control agency, said the country had a serious drug-abuse problem, especially among former child soldiers.

It also is a smuggling route. He spread out pictures of an autopsy on a British citizen with Nigerian roots who had dropped dead in line at Freetown’s airport. His intestines were found to be packed with condoms full of cocaine, one of which had burst.

Mr. Bangura said he had no objections to morphine, however, “as long as it’s for medical use and is strictly controlled by the country’s chief pharmacist.”

Wiltshire C. N. Johnson, the chief of the enforcement arm of the National Pharmacy Board, explained why painkillers were not imported.

Scarce funds must go to the top five causes of death, he said: diarrhea, pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria and sexually transmitted diseases. “I’m not saying that palliative care doesn’t top the list, too,” he said. “But it’s officially a very small percentage of the requirement.”

He also had fears like those of Dr. Jalloh. “There’s no way we’re going to put morphine in the hands of a pharmacy technician,” he said. “In the wrong hands, drugs, like guns, are a greater evil than a cure.”

Mr. Madiye, who predicted exactly those answers before the interviews started, vented his frustration later.

He founded Shepherd’s Hospice in 1995, saw it destroyed in the civil war and rebuilt it. But he cannot get the one drug that would let him give people like Zainabu Sesay the dignified deaths that in the West would be their birthright.

“How can they say there is no demand when they don’t allow it?” he asked. “How can they be so sure that it will get out of control when they haven’t even tried it?”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/10/health/10pain.html

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