My friend Ojotre and his fiancée have travelled through many countries in Africa.
They have marvelled at the sight of expensive government four-wheel-drives cars – emblazoned with big inscriptions such as ‘poverty eradication/alleviation programs’ and yet everywhere they have visited, unusual forms of poverty confronted them.
This couple has wondered why African governments extol publicly an onerous task upon which they have no control. Poverty alleviation is a hoax. Poverty eradication is a myth. Many governments and international donors use that phrase to mean different things at different levels depending on their role and the powers they hold.
Poverty alleviation/eradication could mean exploitation, underdevelopment, political capital, patronage, and imperialism (neo-liberalism). There is a whole industry and market out there where poverty is a commodity.
As a political object, poverty is framed to justify a mobilising ideology; as an international development issue, it is framed to conjure a sense of benevolence and sympathy. Incidentally, every poverty alleviation/eradication attempt has provided temporary fix and perpetuated worse outcomes for the long term, including producing disease and further helplessness/dependency.
To understand poverty, we have to understand what it is not – wealth, abundance, access, equitable society, power, social class privileges – and the manner in which societies and economies are organised and operationalized.
Once we appreciate fully the structural systems that produce, reproduce, and transmit power globally and locally, we then can courageously grapple with poverty as the function of societal inequality resulting from that power relations and its controls production.
Thence, to alleviate poverty, one has to focus on the pervasive inequalities in society that deprive people of resources and opportunities. The antithesis of poverty therefore is providing equal opportunity for production and distribution of resources.
People can get out of poverty if they have ownership over their means of production and the products of their labor. When people have control over their environment and control over the requisite tools to harness and take over their environment, then they can emerge out of poverty.
However, in all these poor countries, the glaring lack of infrastructure to support wealth creation and distribution, as well as the unequal rules of global trades and transnational movements, inextricably bind disadvantaged people to absolute loss of control over production, labor, capital, and environment.
Poverty, therefore, is systemic and structural such that its ‘alleviation’ and ‘eradication’ are obscurantist strategies.
Homeland Bus apologizes for unfair treatment
We respond to a letter titled Homeland Bus can do better! carried in The Observer of Wednesday, January 4-5, 2017.
We thank Mr Patrick Okumu-Omony, the complainant, because we value our customers, their concerns and feedback because we have a duty of care to them. We have promptly and unreservedly written and apologized to Mr Okumu-Omony, who graciously accepted our apologies from our Gulu operations manager.
To set the record straight, the Homeland VIP bus service between Gulu and Kampala was affected on December 30, 2016 and, indeed, all affected persons were duly called and informed by our Gulu terminal booking office.
We regret that Mr Okumu-Omony’s telephone number, as indicated at the time of booking on a copy of his bus receipt, was unreachable at the time. We affirm that our customers are our strength and the reason for our continued business operation, and anything that distresses them about our services distress us more.
This incident, which has been quickly addressed, will no doubt feed into bettering our services to you all. Homeland, which is an equal opportunity employer, offers insurance covers to all our precious customers and employees, including for their luggage.
We promise to continue to offer value for money for all our services and continually correct our weak points across our business arms in the telecom, transport, and courier services.
Fleet operations manager,
Homeland – the Northern Express.
Go slow on GMO bill
Since the National Biotechnology and Bio-Safety Bill 2012 was introduced, it has attracted supporting and dissenting views. Those vying for the passing of the bill allude to the aspect of climate change.
To them, climate change has led to the mushrooming of many diseases. Again, proponents argue that the rate at which Uganda’s population is rising requires new innovations such as high-yielding crops to feed these people.
For the opponents, GMOs are associated with the increasing cases of health complications such as obesity, cancer, infertility, impotence, etc, as well as environmental degradation.
Ironically, while Uganda debates on whether to legalise GMOs or not, the international demand for organic food is rapidly increasing. I commend parliament for going slow on this bill. They should carry out more research by analyzingif countries where GMOs are legal are any better .
Revisit food preservation techniques
Climate change has led to long droughts in many part of Uganda, thus affecting the country’s economic situation.
While I blame no one for this natural occurrence, I think there are lessons to learn. When people have plenty of food, they usually cook more than what they can consume and waste the rest.
Traditionally, families used to have granaries where they would keep excess food as buffer stock for the dry season. Today, you can hardly find any granaries left.
Besides increasing on our environmental conservation and preservation drives, we must as well ration our food and learn to keep some for the future.