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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Starvation in Africa: Blame Unicef!
Der Spiegel had a very interesting article today on hunger and food in Africa.

The aid workers are drawn to the arid lands, where the poor live and the help is urgently needed. Under normal circumstances, such areas don't contain many starving people because they are thinly populated. In the Sahara, for example, hunger emergencies are comparatively insignificant. But in northern Kenya, and particularly in the region's bordering desert land, such as the Sahel, they happen all the time.

And that's why the aid workers dig wells there to provide the inhabitants with clean drinking water. Soon enough, there's a downright crush around the well. Then, more and more cattle drivers and more and more nomadic shepherds bring their wards to the well. And these herds -- and especially the goats -- eat everything up. And, there, where you used to have someone coming by only rarely, a dusty little village shoots up, and then a little city. And, now, more and more aid workers are necessary to feed all the people who settle around the well and the feeding stations. Pretty soon, nothing can happen without aid. The area becomes hopelessly over-populated, and there is no way out of the dilemma in sight.

And what happens when the help comes? First the merchants complain because the cost of food drops through the floor. Nor is it worth it, under the status quo, to build up any surplus stocks. Then, the farmers complain because their crops become worthless. The people who cozy up with the aid workers are the ones following better advice. You can get everything for free there and you don't even have to lift a finger.

It's a really tragic situation, and there is no clear way out of it.  The endemic corruption in Africa ensures that - help or not - very little will be accomplished.

Now, the original article is an opinion piece, but I can't fault the logic.  Can you?
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