Africa comes to Machynlleth
While President Bush was meeting heads of state in Africa last week, a grassroots African activist was in Wales discussing reciprocal development such as 'Fairtrade' and 'People to People Tourism' in Machynlleth.
'Poverty Amidst Plenty' was the paradox discussed by Sekiku Joseph, Director of Fadeco a Tanzania local development organisation, at a packed meeting of the support group 'Friends of Fadeco' on Thursday 10 July in the ecodyfi offices.
Joseph works amongst his people in the area surrounding Nyakasimbi village near Lake Victoria where earnings are less than one dollar a day.
Hunger is common, preventable deaths are widespread and only 1 in every 20 children go on to secondary education. How can such poverty exist in an area of plenty with excess fertile soils and two cropping seasons a year?
Joseph demonstrated the many factors at work. Local and international markets are undeveloped and transport difficult. Providers of money only lend thousands of pounds when farmers need micro-credits of less than a hundred.
There is a huge lack of education with "common sense not being common". Government decisions are 'top down' and 2000 miles away in Dar es salaam. The plentiful seasonal food is spoilt for lack of storage techniques.
Cheap subsidised foreign imports and crashing world commodity prices destroy farmers' incomes.
The way forward is through life-skills education, Fairtrade, development of markets, better infrastructure, preventative medicine and the introduction of such simple practical activities as solar fruit drying, jam making, beekeeping for propolis production, hand lathes, simple latrines and composting. Fadeco should also be 'adding value' by making such things as cereal bars rather than exporting dried fruit for processing in Europe.
Poverty can be eradicated by empowering people to use their own resources sustainable.
Ideas for People-to-People Development
1) Direct supply of boxes of mixed Fedaco produce to households. ie We would buy a box once a year (postage £35, money to Fadaco for infrastructure £25, money to farmer £90 = £150 or whatever makes sense) as this is already what we do as a household. We gain great produce at good price, Fadaco gets co-op development money, a farming family gets their lives changed - everyone wins - sustainable trade. This is easier to replicate and spread in quantity at this stage than selling packets one by one or by trying to import full containers for the shops.
2) We have 'Dyfi FairTrade Bank' via Coop Bank or Smile. ie. As a family we would be happy to lend £60 or £100 to help give micro-credit to farmer in Tanzania via Fadaco. Experience shows that money is very safe lent in this way. Not sure about interest etc. I suspect many of us could afford to do this. Could aggregate money for bigger Fadeco projects.
3) We twin Fairtrade Dyfi Valley with Kagera. What's going on already - books, exchanges, etc?
Will Howard July 2003.