lhowell

Mindset 3.0: Ending Famine by Ignoring the Experts

In Africa, famine, mindset 3.0 on December 3, 2007 at 6:52 am

Often consultants come up with chic new terms like Mindset 3.0 and of course most people don’t understand what it means other than it being another buzz phrase.  For most women and men in developed countries, we hear about famine, hunger and the 4 billion impoverished souls who live on less than $2 dollars a day and give it scant thought.    Now, I want to share with you a real-life illustration of what it takes to make American Idol Gives Back a worthless exercise in popular television altruism.  To illustrate: In Malawi itself, the prevalence of acute child hunger has fallen sharply. In October, the United Nations Children’s Fund sent three tons of powdered milk, stockpiled here to treat severely malnourished children, to Uganda instead. “We will not be able to use it!” Juan Ortiz-Iruri, Unicef’s deputy representative in Malawi, said jubilantly.

Farmers explain Malawi’s extraordinary turnaround — one with broad implications for hunger-fighting methods across Africa — with one word: fertilizer

  

Over the past 20 years, the World Bank and some rich nations Malawi depends on for aid have periodically pressed this small, landlocked country to adhere to free market policies and cut back or eliminate fertilizer subsidies, even as the United States and Europe extensively subsidized their own farmers. But after the 2005 harvest, the worst in a decade, Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s newly elected president, decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached.

In a withering evaluation of the World Bank’s record on African agriculture, the bank’s own internal watchdog concluded in October not only that the removal of subsidies had led to exorbitant fertilizer prices in African countries, but that the bank itself had often failed to recognize that improving Africa’s declining soil quality was essential to lifting food production.  Full article.  This is what Mindset 3.0 is about.

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