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>.

Can Globalization be Fixed, or is it Already Too Late?

At the end of the day, what really is Globalization? It’s an economic system that attempted to unite the world through one big market and bring everyone closer together, but was not thought out all the way through. In the end, Globalization was unable to provide the Third World with the benefits that they were promised, instead creating a sad legacy of slums, environmental damage and poverty achieved at the expense of development. However, while we are unable to take back the damage done to Third World nations in the past, we can make an attempt at changing the current policies of Globalization for the better, redesigning its core structure to make it humane, effective and equal to everyone who wishes to achieve financial success. Globalization was created as a way to raise the living standards of those in poverty and show them a brighter future, which is most definitely a goal that people can get behind; it’s just how that goal is reached that needs to be adjusted.

We can’t fight Globalization by adding more Globalization to this already massive wound. It’s the equivalent of fighting fire with fire: the consequences of such actions will only affect people caught within the damage radius. Instead, we need to locate the major points of where Globalization went wrong and determine some means of fixing them, starting with the social justice aspect. With the Market Fundamentalist and Neoliberalist policies placing the larger chances of success on the wealthy Capitalist businessmen, it was the middle to lower class workers who suffered in the process, eventually becoming just as much tools for good business as the exports distributed. Therefore, on paper, the answer to this problem should be simple: treat all the employees and workers fairly. However, while there are a large number of businessmen who treat their employees with respect, the problem lies not in the treatment of the workers, but how this change in perspective clashes with the needs of die-hard Capitalists. Ideas of class power, class rule and a survival of the fittest-based competition for wealth, while undoubtedly morally questionable, were ironically seen as necessary measures to achieving the needs of the true Capitalist worker (Gindin, 2002). In a way, this makes sense as to why Globalization and neoliberalism were so compatible with one another, looking out for personal interests and unrestrained by any kind of interference. In other words, as long as the foundation principles of Globalization remain profit-driven and towards goals of production and capital accumulation, any attempt at positive social change will always remain on a fine line between progression and regression (Khasnobis, 2013). Change the principles so that the greater majority are not barred such opportunities, and we can take the right steps towards an equal market that lives up to the name.

Our next step to dealing with this problem is balancing the relationship between productivity and environment so that business can still remain strong without depleting a country’s natural resources. With production and exports reaching greater heights thanks to global distribution, it makes sense that more and more resources were necessary to meet the general quota. However, the changes made to the environment in order to reform them into industrial territory led to major social and economic consequences, introducing harmful chemicals and pollution into formally agricultural territories moving those who formally lived or worked there into unhealthy slums (ISFW 2012). This is discerning, as contrary to what corporations would like to believe, the planet is not an unlimited supply of natural resources that can last for an eternity; there needs to some form of control over how much environment can be used for corporate gain and how much should be left untouched. In order to solve this problem, we need to break away from the traditional Capitalist/neoliberalist mindset that government should stay out of corporate policy and provide them with some degree of policy measure in cases like these. This situation has grown out of hand, and we need the Third World to create a set of laws and policies that would allow them interference in how much property globalized companies can control, with some being reserved for the people and others for preservation similar to our own National Parks. While this does not mean that the Government should be involved in every decision made by the industry, a set of checks and balances must exist between them and the people in order to make sure that such actions don’t continue to have long-reaching consequences.

Perhaps the biggest consequence of Globalization in the Third World has been the impact on global identity, implementing the First World interpretation of modern society into other people’s cultures and then gradually convincing them that this is the true way to go. It may play itself off as a universal goal, but for the most part it simply comes across as a Western/liberal economic reform ideology being paraded around on a silver platter and praised as genius innovation (Lerche III, 1997). In other words, this slightly wholesome decision to unite the world economies into one enormous global market has been undermined by the layers surrounding its core, wrapping that belief in Western ideals and setting up a framework for everyone else must follow in order to achieve Western “perfection.” If the United States and its allies want to bring world’s cultures closer together, that is perfectly fine; however, it cannot achieve something like that through Globalization if such unity comes at the cost of dressing everyone up in their own policies. If Globalization really wants to improve itself and become seen as a benefactor to the world, maybe we need to strip down the parts and rebuild such a philosophy from the ground up. Will it be troublesome? Absolutely, but if we want to solve a problem, might as well dig it up at the roots.

 

 

References

  1. Gindin, Sam. “Social Justice and Globalization: Are They Compatible?” Monthly Review. June 2002. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://monthlyreview.org/2002/06/01/social-justice-and-globalization-are-they-compatible/.
  1. Khasnobis, H. “20 Years of Globalization Show What Works, What Needs Fixing.” Www.ChinaPost.com.tw. April 21, 2013. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://www.chinapost.com.tw/commentary/china-post/special-/2013/04/21/376617/p3/20-years.htm.
  1. Garfinkle, Adam. “What’s Wrong, and How to Fix It, Part 1: Introduction, and Globalization/Automation.” The American Interest Whats Wrong and How to Fix It Part 1 Introduction and GlobalizationAutomation Comments. 2012. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/2012/10/09/whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it-part-1/.
  1. Newsweek Staff. “HOW TO FIX GLOBALIZATION.” Newsweek.com. December 30, 2008. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://www.newsweek.com/how-fix-globalization-82947.
  1. Torres, Rocio Amado. “Globalization: Benefits and Problems.” Voices of Youth. 2015. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/posts/globalization–benefits-and-problems.
  1. “Globalisation and the Environment.” Globalisation and the Environment. February 23, 2012. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://ifsw.org/policies/globalisation-and-the-environment/.
  1. Majidi, Mohammad Reza. “Globalization: Approaches and Solutions.” Globalization: Approaches and Solutions. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://majalla.org/news/2005/summer05/majidi-on-globalization.htm.
  1. Lerche III, Charles O. “THE CONFLICTS OF GLOBALIZATION.” The Conflicts of Globalization. Accessed April 09, 2016. http://www.gmu.edu/programs/icar/ijps/vol3_1/learch.htm.

 

Poland: A Developed Nation’s Path to Development

When you think of international development, you usually wouldn’t initially consider the European countries currently undergoing development, yet there are many European nations currently partaking in trade liberalization in hopes to increase their economic activity and boost general welfare. Poland is a perfect example of this, as the country demonstrates aspects of developed and developing countries. As a developed nation, Poland is part of the EU, significantly integrated in trade and capital flows, puts little emphasis on agriculture, and maintains a relatively well educated labor force. However, as a developing nation, Poland relies on productivity growth from imports and exports, as well as reaching high levels of emigration (Gradzewicz et al.). In this blog post, we are going to examine how Poland transitioned from a closed to an open economy, as well as how this engagement in globalization effected the country’s labor from an emigration standpoint.

By the time that Poland had broken off from the communist economic system and embraced open markets in the 1980s, the country was already in massive financial distress. Between 1984 and 1985, Poland’s trade surplus with the West had fallen from $1.5 billion to $1.08 billion. This was almost half of the government’s target for the surplus, which was hoped to be at $2 billion. Then in 1986, national debt to the West rose dramatically from $2 billion to $31.3 billion, mostly due to changing exchange rates. The inflation problem in Poland contributed to these altering exchange rates, considering the increase in retail prices by 18% and wages by 19.5%, yet labor productivity had only increased by 5%. And if that wasn’t enough, the Polish government estimated that $40 million to $50 million of its food exports to Western Europe were lost due to the contamination of food from a nuclear plant that had exploded in May of 1986. This also led to a decrease in confidence of the Polish food export market, in which food sales ran 10% lower in 1987 (Gilette).

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.27.13 PM

In the 1990’s, Poland began to liberalize its markets and establish itself as a member of the global economy. The effects of this could be observed by a rise from 49% in 1991 to 82.9% in 2006 in trade openness (a measurement of the ratio of exports and imports to GDP). Foreign direct investment and imports have been the largest contribution to the Polish economy’s growth in productivity over the last couple of decades. Also, as trade has become more liberalized, the price of imports has begun to decrease, leading to more inexpensive inputs for sophisticated goods, and has caused a more competitive export market (Gradzewicz et al.).

As always, we must take a look at the negative impacts that result from globalization. Domestic food sellers in Poland have been forced to challenge the supermarkets of global corporations, ultimately leading to the closing down of 3,000 Polish grocery stores in 2007. The domestic grocery stores are unable to supply as many goods at the same prices as these supermarkets and are left unable to compete (Krakow Post). Also, as wage differences began to widen, a considerable population of the Polish labor force began to emigrate to other EU countries. The Centre for Migrations Research of University of Warsaw concluded in 2006 that roughly 3% of the workforce had emigrated. The majority of these migrants tend to be educated, ultimately causing a shortage of educated workers in Polish firms. In 2007, the National Bank of Poland acknowledged the country’s largest barrier to growth as the absence of skilled labor. Many of the emigrants do send back remanences to households in Poland which had risen to as much as 1.2% of the nation’s GDP (Gradzewicz et al.).

Poland is an interesting case study in the topic of globalization because it acts as both a developing and developed country. It has been able to reap the benefits of globalization over the last couple of decades by increasing its imports and exports, but it has fallen victim to the usual problem of income inequality and emigration of skilled labor. The country’s domestic markets have struggled as a result of acting in a global economy, but the average consumer is able to obtain goods for cheaper prices, and the average worker is able to make more money. I personally believe that the initial transition into globalization was a good step for the Polish economy because it was able to handily reduce the country’s debt and increase the per capita income, but the long run problems of globalization do still persist and make it difficult to determine the success of trade liberalization.

Sources:

Gillette, Robert. “Poland’s Economy Shows Few Signs of Progress : Nation Fails to Reach Modest Targets in Most Sectors During 1st Half of Year.” Los Angeles Times, 02 Aug. 1986. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

Gorynia, Marian, Jan Nowak, and Radoslaw Wolniak. Foreign Direct Investment in Central and Eastern Europe. Print.

Gradzewicz, Michal, Jan Hagemejer, and Zbigniew Zolkiewski. Globalization and the Polish Economy: Stylized Facts and CGE Model Simulations. National Bank of Poland. Web.

“Trade Sector Grows Rapidly in Poland | Krakow Post.” Krakow Post. 15 Feb. 2008. Web.

Blog 4: Indigenous People

Indigenous people are impacted by climate change to the point where in recent years many uprisings and rallies have occurred in attempts for change. These people are often overlooked due to their small population numbers and the land that is desired for which they live on and have rights to. One could insinuate that indigenous people are impacted heavily based on their dependence on the land around them, they live off the land and rely on its production for a livelihood. The fact that indigenous people’s rights for their land has become an issue in the last few decades shows that the land is changing and climate change is impacting our planet and its people who rely on it.

The book Climate Change and Indigenous People by Abate and Kronk discuss how and why climate change disproportionately burdens indigenous people. They first open up by sharing that a history of colonization and oppression is a major reason for lack of respect and increased vulnerability that indigenous peoples have, and that, “many indigenous communities also share unique legal and spiritual connections to their environment” (Abate and Kronk), which together results in depreciation for their environment impacting their traditional sustainable lives and rights. Environmental changes including: severe drought, higher temperatures, deforestation, vegetation loss, ice melt, and species loss; have all impacted indigenous people’s lives because they rely on the land for their livelihood. It is becoming more difficult for indigenous people to continue their traditional farming practice, carry a steady food supply, rely on the same diet, and many more losses in daily activities which are conglomerating to the point where indigenous people are being pushed to their limits unrightfully so.

Last December the UNFCCC came up with The Paris Agreement, which had a heavy focus on indigenous people’s rights when considering environmental projects and climate change. This all stemmed from indigenous people’s involvement in activities to fight for change, so the awareness was brought to the attention of the higher ups making the calls on this agreement. It was stated that, “Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, (and) the rights of indigenous peoples” (United Nations). In the agreement it was also discussed that non-party stakeholders need to take into consideration indigenous people’s knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts when considering responding to climate change. This agreement is the right step into helping the indigenous people deserve and regain the rights that are theirs. Raising the awareness on a large scale like this will make it easier for indigenous people to remain indigenous and one with their land.

Awareness of these issues has been raised and action is settling in to hopefully begin taking place soon. In Indonesia specifically there is a pressure for the government to boost protection for indigenous people’s rights after 40 cases of violation had been identified and brought to their attention. The Dayak Benuaq indigenous people of Indonesia have been struggling since the 1970s to claim rights for their forests as they face the pressure of logging and mining operations which has inevitably, “Violated the Dayak Benuaq people’s rights to a healthy and safe environment, property ownership, cultural activities, education, traditional knowledge and a life free of fear” (Jakarta). These development issues have raised skepticism over the Presidents promise to protect indigenous peoples rights and has resulted in the urge to set up a task force to deal with indigenous issues.

In Latin America there has been illegal mining for gold which has resulted in abuse of human rights and destruction of the environment impacting its indigenous people. Many illegal miners are exploiting members of indigenous tribes and using them as slave style workers. This illegal gold rush in Latin America has led to major deforestation and produces 30 tons of waste mercury every year that is being released into the waterways poisoning fish and causing damage to humans. “Global Initiative, a network of prominent law enforcement, governance and development professionals” says corporations, “must adhere to the UN guiding principles on business and human rights and do a better job of mapping out supply chains and ensuring that gold is sourced responsibly and ethically” (The Guardian). These issues of indigenous people being impacted by environment degradation are happening all over our planet and awareness and government involvement is finally beginning to surface. These are the first steps necessary towards helping the indigenous people of regions around the world become recognized and being respected for what is theirs and their rights.

 

Works Cited

Abate, Randall, and Elizabeth Ann. Kronk. “Commonality among Unique Indigenous Communities: An Introduction to Climate Change and Its Impacts on Indigenous Peoples.” Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples: The Search for Legal Remedies. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2013. N. pag. Print.

Jones, Sam. “Illegal Gold Mining Drives Human Rights Abuses in Latin America, Claims Study.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 07 Apr. 2016. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

“Pressure Grows on Indonesia to Tackle Indigenous Rights Abuses.” Jakarta. N.p., 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

United Nations. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

 

 

Paint it Green

My last post focused on a new method of agriculture, which, among other things, takes into account the effect agriculture has on the environment. This post is mainly about how the economy can take into account impacts on the environment. This concept is referred to as the “green economy.” The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) defines the green economy as “one that results in improved human well‐being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive” (2012).

One loosely associated group or movement attempting to further green economics is The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). TEEB has developed one way for conceptualizing how ecosystem processes/structures can translate into economic value. For example, trees are a biological structure, which have the function of anchoring the soil. Less soil erosion leads to better soil for growing crops for food, which is an ecosystem service. Food has obvious benefits to humans, which can be economically quantified. However, one major problem with measuring and studying the green economy is that there is not one unified system, and translating ecosystem services into exact economic value can be difficult. TEEB uses a system of aggregating value to find the total monetary value of an ecosystem, which requires evaluating the value of an ecosystem to people over space and time. Macroeconomic indicators are starting to take into account environmental impacts, and offering monetary benefits for environmentally sustainable practices ( de Groot et al., 2010).

The green economy is linked to many other ideas, such as sustainable development and low carbon development. These ideas, which fit in with the green economy, predate it, but are now being merged into it. At an international scale one example of these practices is the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program, in which richer countries pay poorer countries for limiting deforestation. This requires the determination of the value of forests. The forests in Ethiopia are tentatively valued at approximately 2.5 to 4% of the nations total GDP (Sisay, 2015).

In addition to specific sectors, entire economies can be made “green.” This goal is being realized in some places through the UN Partnership for action of green economy (PAGE). The second country to benefit from this is Peru. The greening of the economy, especially in terms of biotrade is expected to “not only benefit the economy but also improve human well-being, enhance social equity and protect the environment” (UNEP). One other country that could benefit from this initiative is the aforementioned Ethiopia. In spite of the fact that Ethiopia has had tremendous economic growth, they have not been immune to adverse environmental conditions which are currently causing famine in that country (Arai, 2015). Maybe if Ethiopia included the environment in its development calculations it would have been better prepared for this eventuality, though REDD is a step in the right direction.

Green economy is an important step in achieving sustainable development. Both Economics and environmental science (as well as sociology, geography, etc) must realize and account for the impact of one on the other. International Development, of course, must take into account all of these factors to work towards a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for all.

sources:

Arai, Ghelawdewos (2015). Famine and Development: contradiction in terms of the Ethiopian context. Ethiopian Observer. retrieved from:http://www.ethioobserver.net/Famine_development_Ethiopia.htm

Allen, Cameron & Clouth, Stewart (2012). A guidebook to the green economy. UNDESA: division for sustainable development. retrieved from: http://www.uncsd2012.org/content/documents/528Green%20Economy%20Guidebook_100912_FINAL.pdf

de Groot, Rudolf et al. (2010). The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: The Ecological and Economic Foundations. Chapter 1:Integrating the ecological and economic dimensions in biodiversity and ecosystem service valuation. TEEB. retrieved from:http://www.teebweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/D0-Chapter-1-Integrating-the-ecological-and-economic-dimensions-in-biodiversity-and-ecosystem-service-valuation.pdf

Sisay, Andaulem (2015). Ethiopia to determine value of forest cover. Africa Review. retrieved from: http://www.africareview.com/News/Ethiopia-to-determine-value-of-forest-cover/-/979180/2686998/-/400qb9/-/index.html

UNEP (2016). Greening Peru’s Economy. United Nations Environment Programme: environment for development. retrieved from: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentId=27071&ArticleId=36123

 

 

Microfinance and Digital Payment in Peru

I am overwhelmed by the lack of available research and information on indigenous development policies and earth-centric development thinking. I am convinced that this critique of development exists within Peruvian indigenous peoples’ groups because I saw alternative development at work while I lived in Peru. Like I previously wrote, the farmers I worked with were deeply in tune with the earth and practiced traditional Quechua farming. There is no way that the Quechua ideals of development and sustainability corresponds with those of the Western, consumerist world. Yet I have not been able to find any information on these ideals I have imagined. At the same time, cell phones proliferate even in remote Andean villages and most of the articles I have read (both in US and in Peruvian newspapers) on development routinely focus on economic development. Because of this lack of information and because of the present consumerist culture in Peru, I have decided to turn the other direction for this post and to look into microfinance in Peru.

Surprisingly, less than one third of Peruvians have bank accounts which means about 10 million Peruvians do not use financial services and rely wholly on cash and barter trade. This is in part due to Peru’s rugged terrain which makes accessing physical banks extremely difficult. One example of the increasing popularity of finance in Peru is Bim which is a digital payment service that can be used through mobile phones. Because of this, Bim is an easy-to-use financial service and even makes an effort to use short, and simple words during transactions “for example, instead of making a deposit. We say ‘Putting money in the phone’” as the managing director of Peruvian Digital Payments, Caroline Trivelli explained to The Guardian. By 2021, the Peruvian government hopes to be able to provide at least 75 percent of all adults with access to transaction accounts.

While more and more people across the world have access to transaction accounts which is great, account owners are also increasingly vulnerable to abuse.  As Elisabeth Rhyne wrote in The Guardian “A woman in Peru bought theft insurance at a street kiosk only to find, after a robbery, that she did not know and could not find out how to claim against the policy.” Many customers are also unsure of the effects of credit ratings or how to lodge complaints. This article also highlights the importance of simple language to highlight essential information, including that “[r]esponsible lenders and regulators should verify that clients understand key facts before signing off loans.”

Despite the insecurity and risk of exploitation that come with using financial services, a report published in Microfinance Information Exchange presents data on Peruvian use of microfinance services. As the report succinctly states “the main findings are: (1) 69 percent of the respondents rated their relationship with their loan officer as good, and 28 percent rated the relationship as average; (2) among clients who did not use their loan to pay back another loan, most said they benefited from their loans; (3) Approximately 50 percent experienced issues regarding loan repayment, and these issues increased with the number of loans taken; (4) Around 27 percent of clients could not recall if they knew the interest rates they would pay before accepting their loans; (5) Roughly 60 percent were not aware of the existence of complaint mechanisms available to them.”

Microfinance is not just an economic activity but a social one. Dean Karlan of Yale, Markus M. Mobius of Harvard, Tanya S. Rosenblat of Iowa State and Adam Szeidl of UC Berkeley came together to investigate how the use of microfinance might be used to determine the level of trust in two shantytowns in Lima. Approximately 25 local sponsors were recruited as loan officers and “were assigned a credit line based on their capacity to pay. They were allowed to use 30 percent of this credit line for personal loans or loans to other members of their household at a preferential rate. They participated in a training session held by the credit officer, explaining the program, how to sponsor clients, and what to look for in responsible client.” In the end, the study concluded that “both prices and social relations matter for allocating credit in Peruvian shantytowns.”

In conclusion, microfinance and non-bank financial transactions are playing an ever increasing role in the Peruvian economy despite my idealized vision of earth-centric reform to development and how I thought indigenous peoples connected to the land would espouse the ideals of truly sustainable development. I can see lots of positive aspects of microfinance and increased financial literacy and stability for rural Peruvians. However, I am still struggling with combining microfinance with my ideals of earth-sustaining and culture-preserving development that does not focus on output and consumption as markers of advancement.

 

 

Works Cited:

“Africa Agro-banks Interested in Credit Technology of Peru Agrobanco.” Andina: Del Perú Para El Mundo. 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. <http://www.andina.com.pe/ingles/noticia-africa-agrobanks-interested-in-credit-technology-of-peru-agrobanco-603456.aspx>.

Collyns, Dan. “Peru Mobile Money Scheme Could Herald a New Dawn for Nuevo Sol | Dan Collyns.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 09 Oct. 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/oct/09/peru-mobile-money-bim-banking-financial-inclusion>.

Karlan, Dean, Markus M. Mobius, Tanya S. Rosenblat, and Adam Szeidl. Measuring Trust in Peruvian Shantytowns. July 2009. Web. 5 Apr. 2016. <http://www.poverty-action.org/sites/default/files/publications/measuring_trust_in_peruvian_shantytowns.pdf>.

“MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: MFI Client Satisfaction and Consumer Protection in Peru; Mobile Microfinance Users Predicted to Triple by 2020; Mobilizing Savings Through Agency Banking.” MicroCapital. 1 Apr. 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. <http://www.microcapital.org/microfinance-publication-round-up-mfi-client-satisfaction-and-consumer-protection-in-peru-mobile-microfinance-users-predicted-to-triple-by-2020-mobilizing-savings-through-agency-banking/>.

Rhyne, Elisabeth. “Do Lenders Make Clear the Risks of Microfinance Loans? | Elisabeth Rhyne.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 17 Mar. 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/mar/17/microfinance-loans-do-lenders-make-clear-risks>.

 

Dependency Theory

African-Plea-Reducing-Foreign-Aid

In my most recent post about colonization to post-colonization in African I ended with this sentence “Africa is left to unscramble itself.” To understand why; we have to look at dependency theory. Colonialism allowed wealthy western countries to “take” unclaimed territories or “their colonies” for material benefits. Now, these once colonies face poverty and are forces to take huge loans from these wealthy western countries (their colonizers) to sustain their countries. Leaving them with foreign debt. (Foreign debt: A debt that a country, an organization in a country, or a resident individual in a country owes to those in other countries.)

Therefore, dependency theory is a way for former colonizers to continue to exploit their former colonial countries with economic dependence. This is the main cause of poverty not only in Africa, but globally. Dependency allows countries to develop at an uneven rate. Why? Because wealthy countries have exploited poor countries in the past and continue to do so today through foreign debt and foreign trade.

In Alfred Ndi’s article “Why economic growth theories became a fiction of development in postcolonial Africa: Critiquing foreign aid policy as discourse” (2010), shows how “economic growth theories that had been applied do not bring a higher per capita income or GDP and social progress to Africans, but rather lead to underdevelopment by using dependency, power and new ideologies.” – (Nielsen)

Poor countries are trapped by large debts which prevent them from developing. Africa received $540 billion in loans from these wealthy western nations such as United States. This was done through the World Bank and IMF. Today, African countries have currently paid back $550 billion of their debt, but due to compound interest African countries are still in $295 billion in debt. Since, African countries are constantly paying off debts they are unable to develop economically or socially. Leaving theses countries to continue to remain undeveloped. Although, opinions about dependency theory are biased. Dependency theorists think “economic aid is not necessarily the key to reducing poverty and developing, but rather debt relief may be a more effective step.” Meanwhile, others think that aid encouraged Africans to move further and on the other hand some of the scholars regard aid as a way to construct Africa’s ‘dependency’ from the west.

Through unequal economic relations with wealthy countries in the form of continued debts and foreign trade, poor countries continue to be dependent and unable to tap into their full potential for development.” – Boundless Sociology

Works Cited

Author: Jorgen Ulff-Moller Nielsen. The Effects of Colonialism on African Economic Development (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Author: Martin Odei Ajei. Africa’s Development: The imperatives of Indigenous Knowledge and Values

“Dependency Theories.” Boundless Sociology. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 01 Apr. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/global-stratification-and-inequality-8/sociological-theories-and-global-inequality-72/dependency-theories-428-8541/

Globalization changes the Thai tradition

In the previous post, I mentioned the history of Thai government policy and successful economic development before the Asian economic crisis in 1997. Thanks to the government policy and the globalization, Thai economy grew at an unprecedentedly high rate. However, it changed Thai’s traditions.

Thailand traditionally produced and exported rice, sugar, pineapples, and rubber. But, its traditional role complemented with an expanding array of non national exports, such as canned tuna, shrimp, processed meats, and fresh and processed fruits and vegetable (McMichael, 2000, p.102). In other words, Thailand changed their tradition to fill the demand from First World nations.

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In addition, according to the Bangkok Post, the traditional lifestyle of island fishermen, known as Urak Lawoi,  also changed by the globalization.  The women who answered the interview said, “The Urak Lawoi way of life is linked to the sea, from birth till death. The problem facing Urak Lawoi on Koh Lipe is capitalism moving onto the island, particularly the tourism industry. The fishermen have to make a living while dealing with increasing cost of living. It turning their focus on making money, the fishermen have to let go of their traditions. Before they went out to sea to fish. Now they are taking shortcuts by buying fish from their neighbors, because they don’t have time to go out to sea to fish.”

To fill the demand from First World nations, the Third World nations such as Thailand change the traditional lifestyle. But, in fact, their income was increased by changing the lifestyle to fill the new demands. So, I cannot determine Globalization is  evil in this case. Moreover, referring to the relationships between tradition and Globalization, I believe Globalization makes a local tradition vivid.  Since I came to the United States, I have realized the virtue of Japanese tradition, which I didn’t know when I lived in Japan, compering with the U.S. culture. Sometimes, foreign travelers find the virtue of local tradition. Thus, I believe Globalization coexist with tradition.

Citation

*Ranong, J. N., & Kongru, A. (2015, August 06). People of the sea. Retrieved April 02, 2016, from http://www.bangkokpost.com/vdo/thailand/646612/people-of-the-sea

*BOI – October 2013, Volume 23, No. 10. (n.d.). Retrieved April 02, 2016, from http://www.boi.go.th/tir/issue_content.php?issueid=104;page

Globalization: The Harbinger of The End of Poverty in Argentina?

Many people know Argentina for being a Latin American country rich with history and culture, but there is also much to be learned from the Argentinian economic system over the past several decades. The impact of globalization on this nation remains fairly consistent with South Korea and Bangladesh, but the main difference that occurred here was the political instability that arose from imposed economic reforms. This week we will be looking at the influence of globalization on poverty, income inequality, and debt in Argentina.

Between 1945 and 1975, the Argentinian government attempted to control the manufacturing of several industries, such as iron, oil, and petrochemical products. The government “established strong regulations and an intricate scheme of taxes and subsidies over the private activity”. As this form of development failed, the country began to open its financial and commercial markets, as well as dispose of previous governmental reforms that hindered international trade. After struggling with inflation for several years, in the 1990’s Argentina actively deregulated private activity and diminished the country’s inflation, allowing per capita income to rise by more than 50%. However, like many countries that gain financial success from globalization, national income inequality began to grow (Bebczuk and Gasparini, 3).

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(GBA = Greater Buenos Aires)

The above table demonstrates the rising level of inequality in Argentina throughout the early-mid 1990’s, which although GDP growth had been at its highest in decades for the country, there seems to be a connection between inequality and the country’s liberalization of trade and investment. Income gap decreased throughout the 1980’s for college graduates and high school graduates, but then the necessity for skilled labor in newly privatized fields began to increase that gap once again and lead towards income inequality that would only rival the peak of the hyperinflation crisis of Argentina in earlier decades (Bebczuk and Gasparini, 23).

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From 1999 to 2002, Argentina faced a major financial crisis in which the “GDP declined by more than twenty percent, the country defaulted on its large external debt, the peg to the dollar was abandoned, and unemployment and poverty reached record highs” (Chudnovsky, 41) The result of the crisis was 39 Argentinians murdered my police and bank securities, as well as 30,000 people injured and over 50% of the population plunged into poverty and grief (Dabes).  The country had successfully attempted to further liberalize trade and expand its production of exports by negotiating with the FTAA and WTO (Chudnovsky, 41-42).

If you are interested in learning more about the 2001 economic crisis in Argentina that resulted from failed neoliberal policies, there are several sources you may examine. Memoria del Saqueo is a documentary that shows the political corruption that was very prominent in Argentinian culture as multinational corporations were able to deplete the countries resources. The Take, as we watched in our own ID 120 class, demonstrates the labor side of the economic reforms in Argentina throughout the past couple of decades and the protests that ensued when the government was ready to shut down manufacturing factories. One more documentary that would be recommended is the Argentina Experience in which Greek filmmaker Yorgos Avgeropoulos recounts his firsthand experience of the crisis, as well displays parallels between Argentina from a decade ago and its current form (Dabes).

Argentina has become one of the world’s leading beef and soybean exporters, while also remaining a prominent producer of sunflower seeds, Yerba mate, lemons and soybean oil. With the economic success that has resulted from performing as a global exporter, the Argentinian government has invested heavily in health and education over the last decade. There have also been improvements in reducing poverty, considering the incomes of the bottom 40% have increased annually at about 11.8% in the last decade. Even with such success, 12.7% of the population lived in poverty in 2014, and about one-third of the nation lives on the edge of poverty by living on between 4 and 10 dollars a day (The World Bank).

In an effort to clear Argentina’s default on its debts in 2001, Argentina agreed to pay $1.35 billion to Italian creditors in February of 2016. There has been no progress on a deal between the country and the New York hedge firms that it owes money to, as the national government does not have the funds to pay the amount that the companies have bitterly waited for during the last decade. Argentinian officials desired to exchange new bonds for the bonds it defaulted on, but because these new bonds would be worth significantly less, the firms were not compliant. Currently, Argentina is in a tricky situation because a Manhattan court has ruled that Argentina had to pay all of its creditors at once, but it does not have the capability to pay the Italian firm and New York hedge firms at the same time with full repayment and interest (Stevenson).

Although Argentina shares similar success from globalization to South Korea and Bangladesh, there have been many issues of the government being able to handle the national debt that resulted from the economic policies that had been instated by the government. It’s difficult to determine the exact effects of globalization on Argentina due to the numerous instances of political corruption that I did not have the chance to describe in this blog post. Also, I find it hard to determine whether the poverty levels would’ve been higher if the country had never embraced the privatization of its industries. Similarly, to the other case studies we’ve looked at, Argentina might be another case of having to wait and see in order to truly examine the results. If the country can rebound from defaulting on its debt and improve the national levels of poverty, then the introduction of globalization to enhance GDP might’ve been worth it in the long-run, even if there were some setbacks in the short-run.

Sources:

Bebczuk, Ricardo, and Leonardo Gasparini. Globalisation and Inequality. The Case of Argentina. Departamento De Economía. Universidad Nacional De La Plata, July 2001. Web.

Chudnovsky, Daniel. Globalization and the Environment: Lessons from the Americas. Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, June 2004. Web.

Dabes, Cintia. “Want to Know More About the 2001-2 Crisis?” The Argentina Independent. 03 Jan. 2012. Web.

Stevenson, Alexandra. “After 14 Years at Odds, Argentina Aims to Settle Debt With Hedge Funds.” NY Times. 2 Feb. 2016. Web.

World Bank. “Argentina Overview.” Argentina Overview. The World Bank, 28 Mar. 2016. Web.

Pornography And Violence Against Women

To continue the topic of violence on women as a development issue, I will be talking about the abuse of women in pornography. Women are seen as sex object that want and need to be taken advantage of because they “like” being treated in these harsh ways. Pornography has grow to cause men to feel that sexually degrading women is a powerful and masculine thing to do and women who “enjoy” being taken advantage of in these ways are whores, sluts, etc. The body of a woman is not made for the pleasure of man, it is a temple that makes her one with the earth and men make her into an inferior by dehumanizing her.
In the article, A Humanist Argument Against Pornography “The role violence plays in pornography trivializes rape, sexual aggression, and other forms of abuse. When we encourage males to include dehumanizing acts in sex and teach women to accept various forms of violence against them as a “natural” part of sexual activity, we are condoning violence against women.” Porn teaches women that it is ok to be taken advantage of by saying that it is natural because it is portrayed in this way in the porn industry. Well it’s not natural, as a matter of fact, it is disgusting and seeing men slap women around, throwing her body across the bed, pulling her by the neck like a wild animal is a disturbing sight. Women are not sex objects, women do not want to be treated with disrespect, but the media has made them feel that they do. We can not develop as a nation if the people who give birth to new life are made to feel less important than they really are.
 Anti-pornography campaigner Gail Dines
Anti-pornography campaigner Gail Dines Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
In a report called The Truth About The Porn Industry, Gail Dines, the author of an explosive new book about the sex industry, on why pornography has never been a greater threat to our relationships, states: “The more porn images filter into mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects. This has a terrible effect on girls’ sexual identity because it robs them of their own sexual desire.” Porn detatches women from their own bodies leaving them with a sense of emptiness. Women are emotional creatures, therefore going through situations that involve their bodies being used, changing, etc., with cause them to have emotional reaction. Women are fully developed creature compared to that of men. Women bleed without dying. Women are one with nature, but in the same sense that man treats women with disrespect, man treats mother nature with the same disrespect, so it is a universal and social problem.
In a major newsfeed called Is Porn Desensitizing Men To Violence Against Women? , “According to Dines, even though gonzo porn stopped telling stories, porn itself still tells a story: some women are whores by nature, always ready for sex and eager to do whatever men want, no matter how painful or degrading. They prefer to be treated with contempt, and they have no sexual imagination of their own.” Speaking in a moral sense, treated women in violence ways is completely and utterly immoral. Having a vagina does not mean dehumanize me, it means worship me because I am a queen and should be treated as such. The media has shattered the thought of women being royalty because of the sense of masculinity that surrounds us all.
In a local newsfeed called What We Learned From Ted Bundy, “Out of a test group of 18 rapists studied who used ‘consenting pornography’ to instigate a sexual offence, seven of them said that it provided a cue to elicit fantasies of forced sex.” Some men watch pornography and are fueled by a fantasy that takes over their being and in order to feel pleasure, they must keep that fantasy going. That fantasy is what tells them that it is ok for them to do whatever they want to women. It is sad to say that this is the reality we live in and development in this aspect will not occur without the understanding that women are people too and deserve to be treated as such.
Mother nature and women gave life to the rest of the world and this strength is shattered by man, who comes from women. That in itself is utterly disrespectful and shows that women are a threat to man and man must show masculinity in order to feel superior to women at all times. It is mind blowing that our society functions in this way, but this is where we are. I would like to say that the only direction we can go from here is up, but things have been slowly descending. So now I ask you, the reader, which direction would you like to go? The direction where women are seen as queens and are treated with equity or the direction where man is worth more than the vagina they come out of?