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Opinions: African Aid; Aid To Haiti; DDT

In Africa, Aid ‘Alone’ Won’t Relieve Poverty and Underdevelopment

“There is a fashion that is half right in saying that aid is not the answer to Africa’s plight. Where it is wrong is that aid — especially focused on the killer diseases, like HIV/AIDS or malaria — saves lives and has a real impact. Where it is right, is that aid alone won’t relieve Africa’s poverty and underdevelopment. But good governance, the rule of law and a climate that welcomes solid private-sector investment can and will,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair writes in a TIME opinion piece outlining the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, which will be working with the government of Liberia “to improve the way government works and help build the capacity to secure the country’s recovery.”

“The Initiative is underpinned by two key principles central to achieving the vision of a stable, prosperous Africa taking its rightful place in the world: effective leadership and increased investment,” Blair writes, adding, “Despite the strides in aid, there is still insufficient focus on these two issues in the development debate — and in particular recognition of the importance of political leadership.”

He concludes: “By supporting the new generation of pro-reform, pro-business leaders and harnessing the investment potential of the private sector, Africa will go from aid to trade, from ambition to action, and by doing so will bring millions of people out of poverty in the process” (4/19).

‘Haiti Stands Alone’

“Haiti effectively has no government, despite President Rene Preval’s insistence to the contrary. The State Department puts Haiti in the same category as Somalia, the two nations with the weakest governments in the world, both of them inept, incapable and thoroughly corrupt,” Joel Brinkley, a Stanford University journalism professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent, writes in a Global Post opinion piece on the prospects for foreign aid to Haiti.

He notes the sentiments of Helene Gayle, the president and CEO of CARE. “She sees a glimmer of promise in the earthquake that destroyed Haiti in January. … Her organization plans to spend $100 million in Haiti over the next five years — fully aware of how hard it is to put that money to effective use,” he writes.

According to Brinkley, “When former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush visited a refugee camp in Port-au-Prince last month, Preval joined them, and they were greeted with catcalls. Refugees wanted to know why Preval had done nothing for them.” He also notes the donations pledged to Haiti at the recent U.N. conference.

“Haiti stands alone; no other nation is showered with such largess. No other nation has squandered so much,” he writes.

Brinkley concludes with a quote from Gayle. She said, “I hate to think that the great equalizer has to be this earthquake. But take what you can get. It’s a missed opportunity if you don’t use it for positive change” (4/10).

‘Sound Science’ Vital For Eradicating Malaria

“The sad truth about malaria is that it persists even though we have had the scientific know-how to combat it since the 1940s,” Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, and Donald Roberts, a retired entomologist and professor of tropical public health at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, write in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that outlines the case for using the chemical dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, or DDT, to fight malaria.

“As environmental awareness took off in the 1960s and 1970s, activists became unduly concerned about the potentially harmful effects of DDT and other pesticides. Much of the worry was scientifically unfounded: DDT largely remains in the local area where it was sprayed, and no studies have been able to link environmental exposure to DDT as a specific cause of harm to human health,” Tren and Roberts write. “Moreover, because of the unique ways in which DDT works to keep mosquitoes out of houses, there was (and is) no alternative that combats malaria with the same efficacy.”

The writers note developments over the past few years that could raise the price of DDT and other chemicals and make them “harder to obtain.” According to Tren and Roberts, as a result of an EU ban on certain chemicals, “Many developing countries have stopped using DDT to fight human diseases for fear that their agricultural exports will not be allowed into Europe if the tiniest residues happen to be found on produce.”

“If we really want to roll back malaria, regulators will have to start making decisions based on sound science. The decades-long drive to ban DDT and other pesticides has done just the opposite, advancing the unfounded belief that somehow all chemicals are harmful in any amount. … By all means we should have big goals for World Malaria Day. But before we can achieve them, we’ll have to start putting science first,” the conclude (4/8).

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