Sunday, July 31, 2011

African Famine Blamed on Land Grab - But the People Need Water - Not Land

There has been a sudden rush to blame the famine in the horn of Africa on the "African Land Grab".

News sources as diverse as The Local (Germany), Al Jazeera and the Montreal Gazette (online link to the July 30 article supressed or unavailable) have jumped on board to lay blame on industrial farming practices (notably by the Chinese) over the past few days.

If fact, the accusations may hold some truth, or much truth. However it must be remembered that the main reason for the famine is drought. Most probably the second reason is civil unrest in the affected countries.

The logistics involved in making sure that aid gets through to those in need are incredible.

There aren't readily available statistics on what percentages of land in Ethiopia, Somalia, etc., are falling into the clutches of the land-grabbers (i.e. "agro-investors"). But the quantity of land that is unproductive due to lack of water must account for vastly more than the corporate farms.

What the affected areas really need are reliable water supplies.

The installation of desalination plants around the Horn of Africa would unquestionably go far towards alleviating this situation.

Ideally, 9 out of 10 of these plants would be dedicated to supplying fresh water to people, farmers and communities on an individualized basis.

There is a Canadian company called Saltworks that is pioneering a new, energy efficient desalination process. I couldn't think of a more appropriate testing ground for prototypes that the coasts of Somalia.

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