White Savior

I will be taking a slight turn on my usual topic of interest about violence against women, to speak on the issue of the white savior complex that is eating away at many third world countries. The white savior complex is an ongoing topic that describes the white man coming to “save” those of color from their “tragic” and “hopeless” lives, which we people of color know is not the case. There is no need for the white man to push his nose into every situation that takes place throughout the world, and without any cry for help from any of these countries, they simply happen to waltz on in and “fix” things without asking what these people need help with.

tc mar20 p.jpg

If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.

In the article, The White-Savior Industrial Complex, people of the white complexion feel as though it is their duty to “save” those who do not live a life that is as privileged as theirs. With that thought in mind, these white men feel that it is their soul purpose in life to “fix” the living status of those in third world countries, so they move in and start working. The only problem with this is that is these white people never ask the people that live in these areas what they need. They just move in and adjust things in ways they see fit. Two tweets made within this article state:

Teju Cole


2- The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.

Teju Cole


5- The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.

How can a person move in and place things however they see fit unless they felt privileged enough to do so. There is no development when people within a country do not want what someone else feels they need. The development process for those in third world countries plummets due to the fact that their land and way of life is different from those of the white man, so when the white man comes to “save” them from their “poor” and “underdeveloped” lives, the people within that country are enraged and no longer want them their. The process of trying to “fix” other countries destroys so much land and kills many people as shown in a video called Good Fortune, which is about people from Kenya who had been treated as animals instead of humans when the white man came in and worked to change their lives for the “better” so that they could develop along with all other countries.  While white saviors feel as though they are fixing things and making the lives better for those who live in world countries better, that is not the case for those who live there. These people do not want the white man their. Have white people ever thought that  people are different and with that difference comes culture? Have white saviors ever thought that these people love their lives and are happy with their way of life? Have white saviors ever thought that not every place is like the United States and does not want to be like the United States? I don’t believe these white saviors are putting much thought in to their actions and if they are, they are thinking the wrong thoughts. Katie Warner, who wrote a report called White Savior Industrial Complex? To Volunteer or Not  states:

“In hindsight and with full transparency I am forced to admit that much of the work and the service provided in those weeks would have to be thoroughly rationalized in order for me to justify the “help” that was really provided to those we “served.”…Now I realize that those are all I-statements, Me-focused concepts. What is the point of a “Volunteer” experience if the only person I am truly aiding is myself? Well there in lies the trap of voluntourism, which I will (somewhat begrudgingly) agree is becoming a disturbing trend promoted through the propagation of social media which despairingly for some results in a narcisstic, self-centered form of service in which people with time and money take it upon themselves to “give” simply for the potential of a new profile picture and a pat on the back.” This is clearly a problem that NEEDS to be solved. The white man lives to be the hero of those who do not look like him because he thinks and “feels” it is his duty to make sure that every country is developing in the same manner as their and that is a problem in itself.

Op-Ed: Why Won’t White Savior Complex Go Away?

In a major western newspaper called Op-Ed: Why Won’t White Savior Complex Go Away?, The issue revolving around the white savior complex explains that these white folks are “helping” those who are of a lower status than them to feel better about themselves and not be seen as horrible people because they are using their privilege for good. (This states makes me laugh because it is just more white people trying to make everything “better”. Come save me white man because that is what you think I need). As stated within this newspaper, ” Most damning is the idea that these activists are driven not by the compulsion to effect change per se, but primarily by a desire to feel good about themselves.”

In a local newspaper called the Huffington Post, the issue of the white savior complex is confronted in a post called White Saviour Complex, when a few people commented on what they think about this whole white people saving those of color process. Two people stated:

Mario Machado Mario Machado“While I applaud the intentions of the voluntourists of the world, I think it is important for them to remain grounded in reality. They need to be constantly cognizant of their privileged positions to be doing development work in the first place and the limitations of both their time commitments and outsider status.”

The White Feminist Savior Complex

Anne Theriault Anne Theriault

“My intentions are good and my heart is, as they say, in the right place. All of our hearts are in the right places. All of our intentions are good. But intent isn’t magic, and sometimes the ways that we carry out our intentions cause more harm than they do good.”

The white savior complex is a truly disturbing and degrading concept that white people have developed to cover up all of the horrible things they have done in the past, but it only make them look worse. I am one of those people the white man felt he needed to “save”. I am from an island called Barbados and within that country I have noticed a drastic change in my community and culture as there are places like Burger Kings and Payless shoes store built through my own island and I am not ok with it at all. We were never asked what we wanted. They was just placed there without consent and now things are slowly chancing on my island and it saddens me to see it all. We are not here for you to “save” us white man. We are happy and content with how we live and we don’t need your thoughts and opinions on our way of life. Thank you.

Feminism as an Alternative to Neoliberal Development

In last week’s post I discussed the extent to which the cooperative movement is an adequate alternative to Neoliberal Development as it rises from the cracks of Neoliberalism.  This week I tap into a school of thought that is in every way post-capitalist: Critical Feminism.

Critical Feminism looks at the social structures of the world, and examines the groups in power that created these social structures. This analysis then looks at who is oppressed or marginalized in the created systems, and how they are oppressed within those systems.  Feminist Critical Theory looks at the roots of today’s global Neoliberalism system, and sees an economic system fabricated by a white, male-dominated, European society, and perpetuated through the colonization of the world by Europe.  Clearly, with white, male, European (Western) people in power, a large portion of the world remains disadvantaged in the system (Gibson-Graham, 1996).  This is where the feminist belief of intersectionality becomes important to Capitalism.  Intersectionality is the belief that the oppression of every marginalized population, is interconnected and cannot be looked at separately from one another.  This pertains to capitalism because the same group of people who created capitalism and spread it across the world are the same group that has set up oppressive institutions, like sexism, racism, and homophobia, that marginalize so many people within the global Neoliberal economic system. Therefore, a Critical Feminist solution to this marginalization, and the way to facilitate the broad social progress that is Development’s goal (in this case equality), would be to remove the oppressive group in power and everything associated with it, including Neoliberal Capitalist Development.

You can see why a Feminist alternative to Development is truly post-capitalist; tearing down every cultural, economic, political system that has caused oppression would literally mean everything changing.  Now before we go further, I want to state that this type of shift is possible.  Capitalism became globally hegemonic above all traditional economic systems, so there is no reason why this global hegemony can’t change again.  A feminist alternative to Development, using this logic, is not utopian or impossible.  It would, however, have to be careful that when replacing the world’s systems, that a different group doesn’t rise to power and create the same oppressive systems that the western patriarchy has.  This is why, of the feminist alternatives visible in the world, most are socialist, and put incredible value on the equality of all humans and creating structures that will not exploit labor.

Let us use the Pan-african movement as a feminist alternative to Neoliberal Development.  It looks to remove the borders created during Western colonization of the continent, and institutions of racism and sexism along with it. A popular African news source called NewAfrican explains the importance of learning from Europe’s structural mistakes, and creating systems of collaboration, not competition, to avoid the structures of economic domination that the continent knows all too well (Schneider, 2015).  A movement such as this seems to be such a cure to the Development Project we have witnessed up to date, with such a focus on cooperation and justice, that issues like inequality, oppression, and environmental degradation appear to be fully addressed, but the issue rises that the current global system provides many obstacles.

Clearly, it will be very difficult to replace an entire world system, especially with the group in power strengthening their positions with the policies they make within the system.  An example of this would be the recent Panama Papers Scandal, which revealed that many of the most powerful people in the world were evading taxes by storing money in Panama banks.  The largest problem of scandal isn’t that they were evading taxes in the countries they govern, but that a large amount of it was completely legal (Harrington, 2016).  This means that those in power are creating laws that are flimsy enough that the same people who enacted them can legally perform the same action that they made illegal to everyone else.  This is an obstacle for a feminist alternative to Neoliberal Development; the group in power will continue to extend the level of inequality between themselves and everyone else, making a structural change incredibly difficult.

An obstacle even larger for the feminist movement, however, is how inconsistent the meaning of feminism is around the world.  A popular American news source, Mic, explained the problem with much of the First World feminist movement, or ‘White Feminism,’ is that it ignores intersectionality, and therefore cannot fully comprehend the systems of oppression that affect the world (Zeilinger, 2015). White Feminism is the type of thinking that would find no problem attempting to find gender equality within the capitalist system, while never fully fixing the oppression of women, or anyone else.  For a feminist alternative to Neoliberal Development to occur, the first step would be a universal acknowledgment of intersectionality, and the consequential realization that a post-capitalist system change is the only solution.

Works Cited:

Gibson-Graham, J. K.. The End of Capitalism (as We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy. University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Harrington, Brooke. “Panama Papers Scandal.” The Atlantic. 6 Apr. 2016. Web.

Schneider, James. “Africa Must Learn from Europe’s Structural Failures.” New African Magazine. 16 Sept. 2015. Web.

Zeilinger, Julie. “The One Brutal Truth That Every White Feminist Needs to Hear.” Mic. 11 Sept. 2015. Web.

You Think You Own What Ever Land You Land On

This post deviates from the focus of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) due to my desire to further discuss land grabbing.

Land grabbing simply is International land holding where government, corporations, or speculators, own the rights to lands in other countries. Yes, the control of land in another country! This phenomenon goes back to colonial days which SIDS are all too familiar with. Presently, land grabbing doesn’t appear to be a problem within SIDS (probably do to finite land availability), most of it is occurring in Africa and Latin America.

‘Land grabbing’ re-emerged in the context of a spike in global food prices in 2007-2008. Local communities and farmers have been evicted from land they long regarded as their own. In the documentary, Good Fortune, addressing land grabbing in Kenya, Locals discuss their struggles with fighting to protect their lively hoods, community, and even health. They speak on how they are made to feel poor when in fact they do not see it that way. However, further disruption from development is making them poor. In the film it showed the new rice farm is effecting their water causing it to flood good agricultural land and effecting the ecosystem. As land is grabbed and reserved for development, this often has implications for the water nearby. They spray pesticides and other chemicals which contaminate water sources that locals have to drink, making them sick. Locals aren’t sitting back and passively accepting this. Recently, residents of Kirimon in Samburu Central Sub-County have protested over what they say is illegal grabbing of 10,000 acres of public land meant to benefit their community. This is common among targeted communities. They are making their demands, but they fall on deaf ears.

Despite these serious implications, various arguments are made that try to reinforce land grabbing as ‘acceptable’ that are very short sighted in my opinion. A popular stance that reinforces land grabbing is that there is an availability of excess land where investment can be turned into income and jobs for developing countries. Worldwide the areas being targeted for this kind of large-scale investment are being portrayed as ‘empty’, ‘marginal’, ‘idle’ or ‘degraded’ land, largely unpopulated, unused, unproductive, and unlikely to compete with local food production. The World Bank has been key to sustaining this view. Leading people to believe that agriculture needs investment, particularly foreign investment.

Another stance is that large-scale land deals are necessary to deal with food and oil scarcity. Even though this contributes to the environmental exploitation in regard to climate change. Advocates stressed the need to develop alternative non-fossil fuel-derived, renewable energy sources to achieve higher levels of energy security, while at the same time, combat climate change through ‘greener’ fuels. However, both of these arguments oversimplify complex realities. Conveniently, the problem is reduced to mere supply.

Food scarcity is a big motivator, however, they fail to acknowledge that there is already more than enough food in the system to feed the world’s population. In reality, food security is challenged by costs, harvests loss, waste, and the diversion of land use for production of non-food industrial products. We debate oil scarcity but do not acknowledge serious inefficiencies in the management of our finite fossil fuel supply, such as, a huge and increasing global commercial transport sector that moves industrial food and non-food products long distances across the world. They also ignore the fact that industrial agriculture and industrial livestock production are major emitters of key greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane).

In all honesty I don’t get it. I don’t get how we can pretend that this phenomenon is acceptable and ok. Especially in the form it takes on with disrupting lives. Land purchases which ignore the interests of local communities and the local landscapes are both morally wrong and commercially short-sighted. We need action both nationally and globally to stop them. It looks like racism, I can see the colonial roots embedded in this and it’s wrong. Is it just me or does anyone see? It’s environmental injustice. How can you go to a country whose society isn’t built on privatization/that type of ownership and exalt your control and power there?

*As I was researching and writing this I kept thinking about Pocahontas and the famous song, Colors of The Wind.

“You think I’m an ignorant savage

And you’ve been so many places

I guess it must be so

But still I cannot see

If the savage one is me

How can there be so much that you don’t know

You don’t know


You think you own whatever land you land on

The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim

But I know every rock and tree and creature

Has a life, has a spirit, has a name…”



Bowman, Mark. “Land Rights, Not Land Grabs, Can Help Africa Feed Itself.” CNN. Cable News Network, 18 June 2013. Web. <http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/18/opinion/land-grabs-africa-mark-bowman/index.html>.

Franco, Jennifer C. “Are African Land Grabs Really Water Grabs?” CNN. Cable News Network, 22 Mar. 2013. Web. <http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/22/opinion/water-grabs-africa/index.html>.

Good Fortune. Prod. Landon Van Soest. Dir. Landon Van Soest. Filmakers Library, 2010. DVD.

Keti, Johnston. “SAMBURU: Residents Protest Land Grabbing.” Daily Nation. N.p., 28 Mar. 2016. Web. <http://www.nation.co.ke/counties/Samburu-residents-protest-land-grabbing/-/1107872/3136504/-/8pmnagz/-/index.html>.

Woertz, Eckart. “The Global Land Grab Phenomenon.” Oil for Food The Global Food Crisis and the Middle East (2013): 143-60. Reliefweb.com. Oct. 2012. Web. <http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/landgrabbingprimer.pdf>.

A Concluding Post – Looking at TB in Vietnam

Many people are quick to be critical of international development (McMichael 2012). Some believe that the Development Program was an mean spirited initiative to increase corporate profits of transnational corporations at the expense of lives in developing nations (McMichael 2012). It is true that many in developing nations have suffered, but perhaps it isn’t for the reasons many people think it is (McMichael 2012).

The purpose of my blog posts has been to help guide people away from knee-jerk reactions against development and to think more deeply about the issues that we’re facing. My first post was an introductory one. My second was a post contrasting and discussing two economic systems. My third was somewhat of a cast study on a GMO crop. The conclusions of all of these posts was to walk through the facts and examples instead of developing opinions without first considering other factors related to problems and other perspectives.

This post will focus on the more humanitarian side of development: treating disease. I’d hope that many people aren’t be against the U.S. helping to fight disease in developing nations… But you never know…

Four hundred children die every day from tuberculosis in Vietnam (Viet Nam News 2016). Someone in Vietnam dies of tuberculosis every twenty minutes (USAID 2012). There are 130,000 new cases every year and 17,000 deaths from the disease (View Nam News 2016). To compare, 555 people died of tuberculosis in the US in 2013 (CDC 2015). Some estimate that there are as many as 180,000 new cases of tuberculosis annually in Vietnam (USAID 2012).

So what exactly is TB? Tuberculosis, or TB, is a bacterial infection (McNiel 2016). This bacteria spreads from person to person through the air (from coughing, sneezing) and finds its way to the lungs, where it takes up residence and begins tearing apart lung tissue (McNiel 2016). TB spreads even more quickly in crowded areas like jails or densely populated housing (McNiel 2016).

TB is a completely treatable disease (McNiel 2016, USAID 2012, Viet Nam News 2016, Johansson 2000, CDC 2015). The most effective treatment is a structured course of alternating four antibiotics over a six month period (McNiel 2016).

Twenty-five years ago in Vietnam, this problem was even worse with 600 people diagnosed with TB out of very 100,000 (McNiel 2016). This number is now down to 200 diagnosed cases per 100,000 people (McNiel 2016). TB kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS (McNiel 2016). TB also kills more women every year than complications from childbirth (Johansson 2000).

Vietnam has the twelfth highest rate of TB in the world (USAID 2012). Eight percent of TB patients are also infected with HIV (USAID 2012).

There are a multitude of reasons for why TB is such a problem in Vietnam, but social pressures against seeking care are a big factor (Johansson 2000).

Men often wait until the disease is no longer able to be hidden or until they can’t complete daily tasks before they seek treatment (Johansson 2000). This is because many men are considered the “pillar of the family” (Johansson 2000, pg. 42). They feel pressured to continue to provide and stay strong for their families (Johansson 2000).

Women often delay seeking help for different social reasons (Johansson 2000). They believe that if people know they have the disease, their husbands may divorce them or they may bring shame to family members (Johansson 2000). Women also keep diagnosis of TB a secret because they worry about harming the marriage prospects of their children (Johansson 2000).

There are also problems relating to rural populations (Johansson 2000, McNiel 2016). Many report negative experiences with rural TB clinics (Johansson 2000). Officials also recognize that a heroin addiction problem in rural populations of poppy farmers makes it harder for TB infected people to access care (McNiel 2016).

Alternatively, urban areas have many TB clinics because of a national health program (McNiel 2016, Johansson 2000). Under the national health program, TB treatment drugs are free (Johansson 2000). However, visits to a doctor and hospitalization are not covered and are an out of pocket expense (Johansson 2000). A study found that positive staff attitudes in the healthcare setting are very important to encourage people to seek treatment (Johansson 2000). The same study suggests gender sensitive strategies and campaigns to encourage people to seek healthcare (Johansson 2000).

So what is the U.S. doing to help? Are U.S. corporations taking advantage of the healthcare situation to grow their own profits?


More than one out of every three dollars spent to reduce rates of TB in Vietnam comes from the U.S. Government (also known as American tax dollars); not money from private American corporations (McNiel 2016).

USAID began a program in 2012 to help this problem (USAID 2012). Before this program, clinics could test for TB and drug resistant TB, but getting results back could take several months (USAID 2012). To address this, USAID provided seventeen testing systems and twelve thousand testing cartridges to thirteen provinces in Vietnam (USAID 2012). Testing could now be done in a matter of hours instead of months (USAID 2012). This program was highly successful and also involved training almost six hundred Vietnamese technicians to administer a higher quality of care for patients (USAID 2012).

The Country of Vietnam also instituted its own program called “Breath for Life” in areas with high rates of TB and HIV (Viet Nam News 2016). This program involved training Vietnamese healthcare workers to better identify the disease and how to more effectively refer patients to the care they needed (Viet Nam News 2016). The American company Johnson & Johnson also got involved to help with this program (Viet Nam News 2016). This program was a very effective and strong example of the public and private sector working together to improve the health of the population (Viet Nam News 2016).

So what are we left to think? This blog assignment has been a small piece of a much bigger picture, but I hope that it has left my audience with the thought that sometimes its best to take a step back, consider multiple perspectives and think beyond the quick judgement that development is always bad for developing nations (McMichael 2012).

Vietnam now has the tools to cure 75% of patients with drug resistant TB and 90% of patients diagnosed with non-drug resistant TB which is much higher than the 50% global average (McNiel 2016).

Work Cited

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “TB Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Sept. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/factsheets/statistics/tbtrends.htm>

Johansson, E., et al. “Gender and tuberculosis control: perspectives on health seeking behaviour among men and women in Vietnam.” Health policy52.1 (2000): 33-51.

McMichael, Phil. 2012. Development and Social Change: A global perspective. 5th edition. Los Angeles: Sage Publications

Mcneil, Donald G. “Vietnam’s Battle With Tuberculosis.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 06 Apr. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/29/health/vietnam-tuberculosis.html>.

USAID. “Vietnam Completes Roll-out of U.S.-Supported Rapid Detection TB Equipment.” Vietnam Completes Roll-out of U.S.-Supported Rapid Detection TB Equipment. USAID, 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. <https://www.usaid.gov/vietnam/press-releases/vietnam-completes-roll-out-us-supported-rapid-detection-tb-equipment>.

Viet Nam News. “Project to Help Prevent TB Infections Among Children.” Viet Nam News. Viet Nam News, 25 Feb. 2016. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. <http://vietnamnews.vn/society/health/282829/project-to-help-prevent-tb-infections-among-children.html>.

PNG as a Counterdevelopment Model: Who Pays the Price?

In Prime Minister O’Neil’s second address to the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra, he draws attention to the damage that can be caused to the environment, and the people who live there, when big companies do not exercise proper care. The Ok Tedi located in Papua New Guinea is often referred to as one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in the world, well known for its disposal of mine tailings into the local river system, which led to an international lawsuit and ultimately to the abandoning of the project. Australia-based BHP Billiton, is the world’s biggest mining company and in 2001, they sold its profitable Ok Tedi mine after having destroyed more than 2,400 acres of rainforest. (Perlez). The mine produces 20% of PNG’s GDP, but it has also disrupted the traditional food system and the lives of more than 50,000 people by putting 90,000 tons of rock waste and tailings per day into the Fly River system (Alder).

Currently, PNG government has taken over the mine and Between November of 2005 and June of 2007, a team from The Keystone Center helped organize and implement a multiparty negotiation process targeted at increased compensation for people affected by river contamination from the mine.  After 18 months of effort, a settlement was finally agreed on. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was established with representatives of the nine affected regions along the river, the mining company, the government,  that will ultimately give the people in the affected area about 1.1 billion kina (roughly US$350 million) in funds, projects, and services (Adler).

Still, to often pressure is put on the people living in proximity to the mine to choose between environmental degradation and monetary compensation. They were asked “Do you want the environment or money?” I few individuals answered by saying “environment.” After continued discussion someone finally called out in Melanesian Pidgin, “Tupela wantaim!” or “Both of them at once,” and the crowd loudly reacted with approval. Their desire is to protect the environment as well as have access to development opportunities and money. Since so much of the regional economy is dependent on the mines operation, closure isn’t an ideal option. The extra money provided by compensation helps support villages who have been severely affected by pollution. They cannot imagine letting the mine close down without gaining some lasting form of economic benefit in return for all the damage that it has done to their environment (Rubinstein).

A significant consequence of this paradox is that reliance on counterglobalization (anti-globalization) may reduce the outcome of indigenous movements to a simplification of an either/ or choice between the environment and development. Like many indigenous movements, the campaign against the Ok Tedi mine has more complex objectives than simply closing the mine. The movement sought compensation for the damages to the environment and to limit further pollution of the river. Participants hoped that the mine would continue to operate, providing economic benefits and opportunities, though not at the cost of the river and surrounding rain forest. Even though the campaign and lawsuit against the Ok Tedi mine tried to balance the two objectives, they were often misunderstood. When Indigenous movements diverge from an antidevelopment agenda, they run into the risk of being seen as “greedy” instead of “green”. To this day people argue about the balance between the economic benefits to be gained from keeping the mine open (to local people and central government) and the impacts on people and the environment (felt by local people on their own) (Rubinstein).

Nevertheless, the negotiations did achieve an important effect and demonstrated a new and promising model for other discussions of similar scale and importance.

The now state-owned Ok Tedi mines reopen will come as a relief to the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government, which is suffering from a revenue shortage. Due to low rainfall related to El Niño, the mine once again suspended operations in August 2015. The drought led to low water levels on the Fly River, which prevents the shipment of ores for export. A majority of the mine’s employees were put onto a basic-needs allowance. (The Economist).

Prime Minster O’Neil has pointed out that compensation arrangements put in place to protect communities are being mismanaged. However, he states that, “Today, Ok Tedi is changing.” And that new leadership has brought a turnaround. He states his position that big companies must have big responsibilities and that, “…BHP, and other mining companies housed in Papua New Guinea, must share the responsibility for the environmental damage done to our communities. Where they lack clean drinking water, where diseases that were not known in our communities are prevailing in many of our communities, we must make sure that we attend to this as well.”(PNG)

Though this case study is still within the making, Papua New Guinea could possibly stand as a model that other SIDS can use to learn from. Lessons on cooperation, inclusive and centered on the community and the environment, are an essential start. Despite the complications PNG may be facing, I believe they are taking tiny steps toward the right direction in advocating for the protection of their environment and more control in development of their state.



Work Cited:

Adler, Peter S., Janesse Brewer, and Caelan McGee. “The Ok Tedi Negotiations.” The Keystone Center http://208.72 156 (2007).

Perlez, Jane, and Kirk Johnson. “Behind Gold’s Glitter: Torn Lands and Pointed Questions.” Nytimes.com. The New York Times, 14 June 2010. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/24/world/behind-golds-glitter-torn-lands-and-pointed-questions.html>.

Rubinstein, Robert A. “Anthropology and Advocacy.” Science 237.4817 (1987): 823. Researchgate.com. SAGE Publication, 2002. Web. <https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Rubinstein2/publication/6069966_Anthropology_and_advocacy/links/5584037d08ae89172b8794b7.pdf>.

“Environmental Risks Highlighted by PM O’Neill in Australia.” Papua New Guinea Today. PNG, 7 Mar. 2016. Web. < http://news.pngfacts.com/2016/03/environmental-risks-highlighted-by-pm.html>

“Ok Tedi to Restart Production in March.” Country.eiu.com. The Economist, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. <http://country.eiu.com/article.aspx?articleid=73932991&Country=Papua%20New%20Guinea&topic=Economy&subtopic=Forecast&subsubtopic=External+sector&u=1&pid=1924039176&oid=1924039176&uid=1>.

Who Gives a Dam?

In order to develop internationally there must be support systems in place such as infrastructure, leadership, strong policy, and security. Iraq had little time of respite between conflicts dating back to the 1990’s. Circa 2009 the Iraqi government, still vulnerable and mercurial, was preparing to place sovereignty in action as coalition forces and a strong U.S. presence was being eliminated.

Previous blogs dissected the water crisis as one compartment of infrastructure development via reconstruction efforts, and now a step back must be taken to marry two emerging ideologies of approach to development: humanitarianism and development aid. The two ideologies emerged conjointly as the crisis in Iraq remained immutable. Infrastructural stability regressed, displacement increased, and political vitality decompensated with the rise of the Islamic State (IS) previously known prior to self-declaration of a caliphate, as ISIL/ISIS. With this rise, development shifted to humanitarian aid.

Typically in development and in humanitarian aid NGO’s add an element of strong support. There was a boom of NGO’s in 2003 after the invasion however the violence against humanitarian workers and NGO’s from 2004 to present day worsens the crisis. Ultimately, development efforts reduce as fear integrates. Many NGO’s shifted their approach by relocated outside the country in order to continue work (Hostage Releases). Currently there are organizations offering humanitarian aid to refugees both in and out of the country and these efforts are the fabric of our human decency. Unfortunately humanitarian aid just is not enough and only temporarily bandages wounds that will never heal.

The Step Back

Lessons learned are a valuable tool for establishing risk in development. Risk analysis is often shadowed to any decisions or appropriations of funds. I often wonder to what extent risk was analyzed when nations and states invest in development overseas, or at home for that matter.

Iraq development began long before the U.S. invasion on 2003. The Mosul Dam development started in the 1950’s, began in 1981 and finished in 1986 which included work from many countries. The Mosul Dam is by far the greatest achievements in Iraqi efforts in regards to infrastructure; and in turn the ideal target of violent sectarian apostasy.

mosul dam

Sectarian conflicts in the more recent years have halted development altogether. Critics will boast that military presences have hidden agendas, and they may be right, but without securing development there is no development.

The Reconstruction Security Support Services (RSSS) contract was awarded (2004) to Aegis, a British security firm. Aegis employees, ranging from former Special Forces to local Iraqi nationals, were dispersed to oversee all operations. Aegis personnel provided security support for transportation logistics. Like a double edge sword there were issues regarding personnel who were hired and not screened properly. The line between security and violence was often blurred.

I digress…For decades the Mosul dam has been deteriorating and maintenance was neglected.

With development steadfast with curvy momentum, a very big shift in happened in 2011. U.S. troops leave a majority of rural areas and along with them left the last layer of hope.

In 2012 sectarian war was at full throttle. In 2013 attacks increase with an approximated 7,000 death toll (UN).

I remember one of my sandpit workers. He was the elder of the group and often was tipsy. We never caught him but we knew and we didn’t care. He was hilarious. When we dropped them off base at the end of the day I would turn up the radio because he would sing and then we would all sing. One day he didn’t show up to work and we asked about him. No one knew. But the conversation between the foreman and I was dear to my heart. He told me that there is no hope for Iraq when we leave. The old guy said that when we had the music on it was one of the best times he had in many years and would be the last, especially if we left.

Year of Carnage

In August 2014 the battle at the Mosul Dam between IS and Kurdish/Iraqi forces created a new playing field for the sectarian conflict. Repairs of epic proportions are needed to meet the needs of a nation beyond development. At this level, it is simply life and death depending on who has control of the dam. In the hands of IS the destruction could lead to as unprecedented death toll.

flood risk

Fix the Dam Thing Already

In March 2016, a signed contract with Italian Trevi group to repair the dam for 237 million euros.

Salut…and may they finish fast.





The Cost of Pride

“In Papua New Guinea we have just witnessed the worst impacts of climate change.

“Rising sea levels and tidal surges that are taking place in many parts of our country, we have just had a seven-month long devastating drought and frost, as well as extreme storms.

“Already our people in our coastal villages are becoming refugees and are resettling on the mainland.” [I.E. The Carteret Island]

“We have had drought that has destroyed crops has leaving many of our communities without food.

“But we have been able to manage those issues by ourselves…” (PNG) -Prime Minister O’Neil

Here is the situation:

Papua New Guniea has been experiencing a prolonged dry spell since May of 2015. On August 7, 2015 The National Weather Service (NWS) declared that Papua New Guniea will be experiencing a severe El Nino event, which was forecasted to continue for 8–10 months with reduced rainfall in all parts of the country. This is expected to be worse than the 1997/98 drought. It has been estimated that approximately 2 million people will be effected with severity varying from place to place. The NDC’s summary updates revealed that almost all of the Highlands Provinces are experiencing Category 3 and 4 while some on Category 5 droughts on the Government’s drought scale. These categories indicate that there’s no food in gardens, only famine foods (ferns, unripe bananas, bitter yams) are being eaten, and water is only available at distance. (ReliefWeb)

The normal rainfall usually expected in November is now not expected until first half of 2016. This is overlapping with the dry season which usually occurs between May and October. Even more concerns have been rising that the severe food insecurity could potentially result in the displacement of a large number of affected people, leading to peace disturbances, widespread inter-tribal conflicts over limited resources and an increase in incidents of gender-based violence. There’s also increasing reports of babies and elderly people becoming ill as a result of the severe drought. (ReliefWeb)

As a result, the Government has activated the National Emergency Centre and the National Disaster Response Committee has made funds as well as relief supplies available. Delivery of relief supplies will be coordinated by the National Disaster Centre (NDC) and the Defense Force. (EPoA)

“That is probably one reason why we have not had the international attention about the worst drought we have ever experienced in Papua New Guinea. “

“We have been able to manage it because of our ability to engage with our communities, and our Government’s commitment to making sure that we feed our people over that period of time.”

Admittedly, to say this is such a severe drought, I can agree that it has gotten very little international attention. Currently, PNG has been independently managing the drought response through its new disaster. One article stated that they were not accepting outside help with food delivery. On this, Prime Minister O’Neil stated, “The Australian Government has not offered the Papua New Guinea government any help, we have not requested [it], it’s entirely up to them,”

“We are not going to go hand-in-cap every time we’re in trouble. We need to manage issues ourselves.

“It is not about pride, it is about making sure that our people are relying on each other and relying on themselves.”

Unsurprisingly, this has received much criticism and critique. Concerns have been made that released funds to districts have not been targeted to the most affected communities. Some areas have reported not receiving timely relief, some such as the Kanma village, report having not received any aid and that they are starving feeling as if the government forgot about them. The Government acknowledged difficulties in distributing supplies from regional centres.

In October, the Australian Government pledged $9 million to drought aid in the Pacific, $5 million of which went to programs in PNG. The article Author wrote, “The money was for coordination, mapping and resilience programs, not for the delivery of relief supplies” (Tlozek)

There is a lot to be analyzed about this situation. Is it important to keep pride? When should you give pride up? Does pride mean something different to developing countries such as PNG?

I believe Prime Minister O’Neil’s point is valid, and I applaud him in ways for wanting to independently handle this situation. The analysis is complex. I encourage and would love for all counties to be able to handle situations independently like this. However, when resources are scarce and delivery is inadequate with many people starving, becoming sick, and dying it is easy to see the situation as the Prime Minster being to prideful. We speak of the blindness of pride, and the stubborn act of doing everything alone and not asking for assistance when it’s needed. However, we see the desire to dictate mediation from the article’s author, Eric Tlozek, who states what the money should be used for.

It’s unfortunate, though, I get it. Sometimes, all you have left is your pride, when that happens, you have to hold on to it. I want to stress, that pride, in short, produces perseverance.

With any luck the government could be able to handle this situation on it’s own. If not, hopefully, they can receive assistance that does not compromise their integrity. Regardless, how these situations are handled and its result, will breed extraordinary resilience of communities in PNG in coming times, especially as their heightened risk of disruption as a result of climate change.

Meteorologists are still cautious to not link the drought to climate change, but while wide-ranging temperature records for the Highlands don’t exist, some studies report they are one degree hotter than 30 years ago. Manager of Climate Monitoring at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, Karl Braganza, compellingly states that the glaciers around Puncak Jaya in West Papua (a mountain range that runs from the east to the west across the island of New Guinea) are disappearing rapidly, presenting a strong indication of warming in the PNG Highlands (Stuff). These symptoms can’t be ignored. In the end…

“We must make sure that these communities and their ways of life, is protected.

… More about Papua New Guinea in next post.

*Italicized words are of Prime Minister O’Neil



“Environmental Risks Highlighted by PM O’Neill in Australia.” Papua New Guinea Today. PNG, 7 Mar. 2016. Web. < http://news.pngfacts.com/2016/03/environmental-risks-highlighted-by-pm.html>

“Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) Papua New Guinea: Drought.” ReliefWeb (n.d.): n. pag. Ifrc.org. ReliefWeb, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. <http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/MDRPG005dref.pdf>.

“Papua New Guinea’s Food Bowl Is All but Empty as Drought Affects 2 Million People.” Stuff.co.nz. N.p., 22 Feb. 2016. Web. <http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/south-pacific/76854432/papua-new-guineas-food-bowl-is-all-but-empty-as-drought-affects-2-million-people>.

Tlozek, Eric. “PNG PM Rejects Reports of Widespread Deaths Due to Drought.” ABC News. N.p., 03 Mar. 2016. Web. <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-03/png-peter-oneill-rejects-reports-widespread-deaths-severe-dought/7219006>.

Cooperatives as an Alternative to Neoliberal Development?

Yes a question mark.  As we will discuss, the global cooperative push is a legitimate alternative to Neoliberal Development, with a strikingly different value system, but the uncertainty in the title surrounds whether or not it is an adequate solution.

Cooperatives are companies that are owned and run by the employees that work in them.  Often, especially those in South America as we saw in the film The Take, they are factories that were shut down by their owners, and then occupied by the past workers.  They win the legal rights to the factory and then run it how it functioned before, but share decisionmaking responsibilities, management, and pay in a more equal way.  In the United States, they are more often companies founded as cooperatives than occupied ones.  The seven values of cooperatives, whichever way the cooperative is conceived, are voluntary and open membership, democratic control, member economic participation, autonomy, education and training of members, cooperation of cooperatives, and concern for the community (NRECA.coop).  This basically means that cooperatives are democratically run companies that share profits and responsibilities and collaborate with other cooperatives.

The cooperative movement has gained enough momentum across the world that it now can be considered a legitimate alternative to Neoliberal Development.  An Argentinian newspaper named La Nacion showed that the cooperative sector grew by 239% in 2012, which has helped provide work to many members of the 60 percent of the population that are below the poverty line (La Nacion, 2013).  A separate American news source, which is just as uniquely named The Nation, claimed worker cooperatives are more productive than typical companies, because maximizing profits is not the top priority, and the friction between boss and employee does not exist (The Nation, 2016).

Neoliberalism values profit above all other things. While the cooperative movement values many things in addition to profit, they still need profit to survive in a capitalist system.  Using cooperatives as an alternative to Neoliberalism fixes many social issues, including economic inequality and unemployment, and has the ability to address gender and racial inequalities.  The one issue however, is still climate.  In a world dominated by the cooperative movement, most social issues that can be exploited to create profit, as discussed in my last blog post, are erased since cooperatives are run by those who it would exploit.  That leaves the climate left to exploit to gain a profit, or labor, just with a more equal exploitation.  Cooperatives that work within the capitalist system still must keep their products competitive, and therefore are no better at addressing climate change.  There is another option, which is far more common in the United States, that cooperatives run as non-profits, and consider climate protection as one of its central principles.  The question is if an economic system of cooperative companies would extend their “concern for the community” to the environment and dissolve the competition between them.

One way to look at this question is through Wainwright and Mann’s Climate Leviathan (2012).  Their argument is that eventually climate change will become such a pervading issue that the global political and economic structure will completely change to address it, with struggles between a capitalist and non-capitalist economic structure, and a global sovereign and non-global sovereign political structure.  (a quick clarification: a political system with a global sovereign is like what we have today with international structures like the UN). According to the paper, there are four ways these struggles could go: Climate Leviathan (capitalist and global sovereignty), Climate Behemoth (capitalist and anti-global sovereignty), Climate Mao (non-capitalist and global sovereignty), and Climate X (non-capitalist and anti-global sovereignty).  The cooperative economic model as it stands now remains supportive of a global sovereignty, like the decisions made at the 21st annual Conference of the Parties in Paris (2015), where there will be a nationalized push to reduce carbon emissions based on what would be needed to cap the maximum temperature growth of the globe to 2 degrees celsius. In a cooperative economic system then, the question comes back to whether or not cooperatives will continue to compete and be profit driven, which will lead to either Climate Leviathan or Climate Mao.  The Climate Leviathan, which is profit based, will most likely not be able to fully address climate change, while the Climate Mao, which is not profit based, has the possibility to do so.

Works Cited:

Chen, Michelle. “Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive Than Normal Companies.” The Nation. N.p., 28 Mar. 2016. Web.

Conference of the Parties. Twenty-First Session. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. 11/30/2016, 12/11/2016.

Serra, Laura. “Crecen Sin Control Las Cooperativas Sociales Y Abundan Las Quejas.” La Nacion, 3 Oct. 2013. Web.

“Seven Cooperative Principles.” NRECA, 2016. Web.

Wainwright, Joel, and Geoff Mann. “Climate Leviathan.” Antipode 45.1 (2012): 1-22. Web.

Iraq: How Important is Ur Water. Reconstructive Efforts Fall Short as Developers Face Resistance.

Hadi Mizban / AP. Akeed Abdullah stands next to his boat in a dried marsh in Hor al-Hammar, Iraq, on March 27. A severe drought is causing hardship for Marsh Arabs, who pursue a life of fishing and foraging that has not changed substantially for thousands of years.

I remember a day in May of 2006, shortly after arriving in Iraq, when I was en route back to base I saw something in the distance that looked like an animal skeleton. The closer I got I could see it was a boat. This boat was the same color of the sand it laid upon and as dry as the dust surrounding. It looked as if it were ash that kept the shape after burning and the faintest of gust would make it disappear forever. I soon learned that the area was once a marsh. This image, and it’s symbolism of the crisis of Iraq, has been a penumbra of both despair and hope to me since I first saw it. I thought for the first time, is this what it would look like if people disappeared? Where is the water?

Well Where Did the Water Go?

In this blog, the main highlights encompass the irrigation crisis of both post and pre Iraq War. It is intended to focus on the development efforts of a conflict nation in order to sustain agricultural needs in respect to clean, potable, and usable water sources. In the first blog, it was mentioned the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF). One of the priorities is that ‘sustainment of infrastructure be built through the IRRF’. One of paramount type of infrastructure being water, this blog will identify the constraints and outcomes of development as reconstruction.

Prior to diving into reconstruction it is necessary to understand ‘what’ is being rebuilt.

In Iraq, specifically the in the rural governates, the significant lack of infrastructure impeded any efforts to support its residents in the brief time of non-conflict status; and in conflict years the impact was atrocious. In the 1990’s there were massive drainages of the marshes causing displacements of Marsh Arabs (UNHCR). Drainage and dam negligence was in existence prior to the government retaliation for UN sanctions for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The following 12 years sanctions were not lifted and the damage to the Iraqi people was irrevocable as infrastructure decompensated aggressively.

In 2002 a research agronomist A.A. Jaradat reported to The U.S. Department of state as a member of the Middle East Working Group on Agriculture. According to the report, the need of feeding 22.8 million people with a 3.6% growth rate proved difficult logistically. The Dhi(Thi)-Qar Governate houses approximately 1.836 million of the total population. Roughly 12.5% of people suffer from two decades of environmental constraints and human influence of insufficient management.

© 2010 Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI). All Rights Reserved.

Wellspring into Action

In 2004-2005 the IRRF was well into the quasi audit phase of the reconstruction project as $110 million dollars is estimated for Water Resources and Sanitation sectors (SIGIR-05-022). Over the next two years contractors (IRRF) from Washington International Inc. and Black & Veatch Joint Venture worked toward water resource reconstruction with a $600 million contract, FluorAMEC JV with a Public Works/South contract of $500 million, and alongside them was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) estimating somewhere between zero dollars and eighteen billion. Some subcontractors began work immediately. Approximately 1,000 Iraqi nationals were hired as subcontractors which meets the initiative of transition from funded contractors when the turnover begins in 2008.

I recall many conversations with Turkish construction subcontractors regarding the water crisis and was informed subjectively that efforts were not as effective as hoped. In 2006 there was a swarm of incoming contractors from all over the world trying to rebuild Iraq. I recall conversations with the local Iraqi contractors that this was a problem on two folds. One issue being that Iraqi’s were not rebuilding and the second was that Iraqi’s did not have the skills to rebuild. Either way the problems, albeit suggestive and inevitable, posed a strain on the overall reconstruction effort. If the rebuilding generates more problems, scaffolding over intermittent periods, is it worth the effort in the first place? The more rebuilding antagonized the opposition and increases the insurgent attacks. How in the heck do they get any work done?

Soon came the chaos as concerns about funding and results became a hot topic according to the IRRF SIGIR-06-040 report. Justifiably anticipated, the questions regarding the efforts were being asked as expected. Why are we unable to meet project outcomes? Was funding used appropriately? What is slowing us down?

One Step Forward…Two Steps….Cover!

Reconstruction outcomes included 19 working potable water treatment facilities, eight centralized sewage treatment facilities, irrigation system rehabilitation for 321,000 acres, and a primary water supply for southern Iraq. In 2008 the Nasiriya Drainage Pump Station was opened and turned over to the Iraqis. One of the most significant impacts in developing infrastructure in the southern governates. These outcomes barely scratch the surface of the desirable outcomes outlined in the IRRF documents; and are substantially out of proportion when considering how much funding was appropriated.

Why you ask? Your answer is insurgency. UNHCR and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has dozens of reports indicating the lack of progress due to attacks by insurgents opposing foreign support.

At the materials plant, we were conducting rounds for security. After the rounds we usually had a little time to hang out with the Iraqi workers and one foreman in particular. Over chai, cheese, and olives (courtesy of the foreman) we would sit around a table and talk. Topics ranged from music to football (soccer), and the current events of the day. One day, the foreman had told us that the insurgents were sabotaging the water systems. Some would loot and steal the electrical equipment, or render the equipment and facilities unserviceable. He told us that some leaders and or members of the Former Regime Loyalist (FRL) were threatening Iraqis that were working at the water treatment facilities if they showed up to work. The opposition found a way to attack, and the target was the water. (2005, Tallil AB)

With the rate of insurgent attacks increasing the efforts for water sustainment slowed. In 2006 the current state of the water in the Dhi (Thi)-Qar region had such a high salinity it was unusable. There have been little to no returns of IDP’s as the vulnerable infrastructure at the time would not support repatriation (Jaradat). Without water, there is no life. With water that is contaminated there is poor quality of life. Drinkable water alone, was deprived of the marshland Arabs and several health concerns arose in 2006. Gastroenteritis, dysentery, and water-borne diseases effected children (UNHCR, Thi-Qar). Fewer local Iraqi employees showed up to work as fear imposed onto them by insurgents became unavoidable.

In late July we would go off base to transport workers like every other day before and soon no one showed up. I knew that they would not show up because of imminent attacks. We started noticing the trends of attacks on days when workers didn’t show. Either they were being warned or they knew that there was going to be an attack. Either way we got hip to the trend. I contemplated this over and over again. The mind spins trying to understand how impossible it is to rebuild something from rubble while forces wish to keep a nation of people in despair. I for the first time understood things in respect to narratives and it was overwhelming.

How Do We Keep Out Heads Above Water?

Development itself shifts. Actors Change. People, in our most delicate states, change and survival becomes priority number one. As I was preparing to leave Iraq I could not bear to think of what is to come of the people I was leaving behind. Five years after the invasion of Iraq development shifted from rebuilding to contestation as the Iraqi Ministries face a bigger challenge as the total vulnerability gives rise to the biggest insurgency in the 21st century.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog. In the meantime, here is a little lighter side of Iraq’s history of water.




Jaradat, A.A. U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services. Agriculture in Iraq: Resources, Potentials, Constraints, and Research Needs and Priorities. 2002.


Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Managing Sustainment for Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund Programs (Report No. SIGIR-05-022). October 24, 2005. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a524196.pdf.

Rebuilding Iraq: The U.S. Achievements Through the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund. http://2001-2009.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rpt/60857.htm.

United nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Thi-Qar Governate Assessment Report, October 2006.

Deconstructing Reconstruction: Problems, Challenges, and The Way Forward In Iraq And Afghanistan. First Session, 110th Congress. March 22, 2007. http://psm.du.edu/media/documents/congressional_comm/senate_homeland_security/us_senate_homeland_hearing_22_march_2007.pdf.

Weiner, Betsy. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Water Treatment Plant Brings Fresh Water, Job Opportunities. 2006. http://www.army.mil/article/851/Water_treatment_plant_brings_fresh_water__job_opportunities/.

*Image_Boat. Hadi Mizban / AP. Akeed Abdullah stands next to his boat in a dried marsh in Hor al-Hammar, Iraq, on March 27. A severe drought is causing hardship for Marsh Arabs, who pursue a life of fishing and foraging that has not changed substantially for thousands of years.


Community Sustaining Development v. Government Mandated Development


Continuing with my theme of alternatives to economic development, I am going to use this post to profile three development initiatives and organizations in Peru and will contrast these programs with the government program to eradicate illegal coca farming. Despite opening up these blogs as a means to interrogate alternatives to economically focused development, I have had a lot of trouble finding information on specifically indigenous and Quechua development efforts which is why I have chosen to look at the difference between community engaged and government mandated development in this post.

As reported in the Health and Human Rights Journal, Amazonian Peoples’ Resources Initiative (APRI) was founded in 1995 and works with rural communities in the Peruvian Amazon. They have four primary programs which are 1) training local women to provide reproductive information to their own communities, 2) disseminating reproductive health information through radio, 3) working to better educational opportunities by providing financial scholarships and support to “indigenous teacher training and graduate university programs (220),” and 4) through providing “income-generating opportunities that enable rural families to meet their subsistence needs and to invest in the development of their communities (220).”

Water for People Peru is another successful organization working for development within the country. They work to develop water resource management and to increase sanitation. To do this, they focus on sanitation as a business which “includes helping families gain access to credit for toilet construction through loans from banks and cooperatives, and encouraging existing sanitation goods and service companies (such as hardware stores) to include affordable products for low-income customers in their portfolios.”

Solaris Perú is a Peruvian Organization that works with poor and excluded families. Some of their projects include improving health and education. One specific initiative is the their “Programa de Atención Médica Especializada” (Program for Specialized Medical Attention). This program sprang out of the fact that many areas outside of Lima, the capital, do not have specialized health services and children with chronic illnesses often need to make the trek to Lima for care which is not always economically feasible. Their program has attended to more than 1100 children and teenagers with genetic health problems and chronic, degenerative diseases. This program is currently operating in Arequipa, Apurímac, Cusco, La Libertad, Lambayeque and Puno.

These three programs/organizations/initiatives have overall been very successful and I see their degree of connection and engagement with the communities that they are trying to help as vital to their success. I was especially struck by the APRI and how sensitive the organization is to prevailing cultural attitudes on family planning.

Contrastingly, the efforts to eradicate the illegal coca growing industry have been very top down and have impacted various communities negatively. As the BBC reports, 12,000 hectares of coca are permitted to be grown in Peru, however, there is a huge illegal business in coca growing. The core problem of the efforts to reduce coca farming is that alternative crops such as coffee and fruit do not sell for enough to offer a living to the farmers. Therefore, farming coca is an economic necessity. In 2003, the BBC quoted Hugo Cabiesas (an advisor of the coca farmers, also called cocaleros) who said, “[t]he coca farmers have become more politicized in the last two years…they’re demanding an end to the eradication of coca by force, and they also want more say in the programmes to develop alternative crops.” The Peruvian Times makes note of the violence between farmers and the government due to anger about the lack of infrastructure providing farmers with alternate sources of income or alternate crops.

As reported by the BBC, the US insists on running the project although “[t]here are moments when there are differences and tensions,” according to Mils Ericsson the head of the Peruvian Drug Control Policy Unit, who goes on to state that, “[w]e would actually prefer for a Peruvian agricultural agency to run the projects, but the US insists on having their own team of people in charge.” As the Guardian explains, the problem of coca eradication is not one of the past. During 2015, the Peruvian government hoped to destroy 35,000 hectares of coca which is an area about the size of Philadelphia. Some families do get transitional assistance but many of the 95,000 families were not offered any or rejected the offer. As one coca farmer explained her choice to refuse government assistance, “[t]hey give you a machete and a few cacao seeds and then they forget about you.”

As we can see from these contrasting examples of “development” in Peru, top down, government backed programs that are forced onto the population without consulting the communities first does not appear as development at all. On the other hand, initiatives that focus on the community first and look at what they need in order to craft programs appear to work much more effectively and with less strife.




Dean, Bartholomew et al.. “The Amazonian Peoples’ Resources Initiative: Promoting Reproductive Rights and Community Development in the Peruvian Amazon”. Health and Human Rights 4.2 (2000): 219–226. Web. Accessed 1 April 2016. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4065202?seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents>.

“Misión Y Visión.” Solaris Perú. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://www.solaris.org.pe/index.php/mision-vision/>.

“Peru Coca Growers Decry Insufficient Compensation for Anti-drug Eradication.” The Guardian. 17 Aug. 2015. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/17/peru-coca-plant-growers-eradication-compensation>.

“Peruvian Anger Over Coca Plans.” BBC News. 22 Oct. 2003. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3208788.stm>.

“Peru.” Water for People. Web. 01 Apr. 2016. <https://www.waterforpeople.org/where-we-work/peru>.

“Police, Coca Farmers Clash Results in Two Deaths.” Andean Air Mail and Peruvian Times. 29 Aug. 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://www.peruviantimes.com/29/police-coca-farmers-clash-results-in-two-deaths/16657/>.