Listening to Obama’s speech yesterday reminded of my trip to Uganda last year. He urged Africa to stand up for herself specifically to come up with solutions to its problems. He told the audience that he would like to see an Africa that sells food to the developed world.
This was certainly the case for Zimbabwe in the early 90’s, there were bananas, apples etc on the shelves of my local supermarket market PRODUCE OF ZIMBABWE, one has to ask how did all go so wrong that Zimbabwe has come to need FOOD AID?
I wrote about this year’s G8 SUMMIT in L’Aquila Itlay and their commitment to increase food security for Africa in particular. But how do you ensure that food gets to where it is meant to be or that as President’ Obama’s wish for African countries to become suppliers of food elsewhere in the world?
Whilst in Uganda in September 2008 I discovered that Peas that were donated by the Canadian government to the people of Rwanda made their way onto a fruit and veg market in Uganda. I however never considered that the same peas would make it to Isle Worth in West London England!
These Peas journey in summary is Canada- Rwanda- Uganda- London…Phew!
What are they doing in s hop in Isleworth you may ask? Well most of us in immigrant communities have foods we love that are not available in main stream supermarkets and mine is Ugandan sweet potatoes and tea
I therefore make the journey from Surrey to Isleworth on and off to get those sweet potatoes and on that visit I discovered that the same peas I had seen in a market in Uganda were on sale in the shop in Isleworth! The shopkeeper was amazed when I told him about the incredible journey these peas had made to Isleworth!
Should we in the UK be buying food that was given as part of the Food Aid programme donated to the developing world, I asked him? He agreed that this is wrong and that he would take his suppliers to task about it. That was 2008! I have since been back to the same shop in Isleworth and I am pleased to report that they have stopped stocking these peas.
That aside, this example illustrates that FOOD AID is open to abuse as the food does not necessarily get to those that need it/for whom it is meant.
How do we guard against/end this kind of abuse? I suspect that some of the reason this sort of thing happens may have to do with poor wages for staff on the ground who quite possibly see this a perk that comes with their jobs. The selling of food that is meant to be given out free of charge is additional income for them? What do you think?
If that were indeed the case what do we do? Pay them more? or stop sending the FOOD AID altogether?