GENTECH archive


IMF blamed for Malawi famine

On 29 Oct 2002 at 14:43, ngin wrote:

Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),
"The IMF told our government to sell off all of our grain reserves to
help make loan payments... Hasn't anyone ever heard the story in the
Bible of Joseph saving up grain for the coming famine in Egypt? Now our
people are facing real hunger. I have come to South
Africa to find work. And that work is now, ironically, to unload GE food
relief from ships from America. Malawi will have no choice
but to accept GE foods now. When people are desperate, they will accept
anything - a dictator, food, sterilization - you name it."
Siswe Nbele, a Malawian dockworker, quoted in 'Frankenfoods create furor
on Dark Continent'
WorldNetDaily, US, October 10, 2002

"...[African] government subsidies on maize production have been
discontinued under pressure from the World Trade Organization
[but] it now seems that it's OK for the starving here to eat subsidised
maize, just as long as it is GM and grown in America."
Andrew Clegg, Windhoek, Namibia in a letter to New Scientist

FORCE FEEDING THE WORLD - a primer on the food aid crisis
World Development Movement
Press Release, Tuesday 29 October 2002
IMF blamed for Malawi famine

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank forced policies
onto the Government of Malawi that were responsible for turning a food
shortage into a famine, concludes a report released today by the World
Development Movement (WDM). Seventy per cent of rural families faced
starvation earlier this year, following floods in 2001.

The report details a catalogue of disastrous IMF enforced policies that
have undermined Malawi’s ability to feed its people. It blames the
ongoing privatisation of the food production and distribution system
(notably the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation -
ADMARC), removal of agricultural subsides to small farmers and
deregulation of price controls on staple foods such as maize - policies
that have enabled Malawi to avoid famine in the past. The price of maize
increased 400% between October 2001 and March 2002 as a result of these policies.

The House of Commons International Development Committee, which last
week returned from a fact-finding visit to Malawi, today hold their
first evidence hearing into the famine.

Entitled ‘Structural Damage: The Causes and Consequences of Malawi’s
Food Crisis’, the report also reveals evidence that the IMF, World Bank
and EU were heavily involved in the disastrous decision to sell-off
Malawi’s grain reserves at the height of the famine, something they have
repeatedly denied.

The authors also condemn international lenders for insisting that the
heavily indebted Government of Malawi continues to make debt repayments
to rich countries and the IMF and World Bank, despite the humanitarian
crisis. Malawi will spend $70m, over 20% of its national budget, on debt
repayments in 2002 - money desperately needed for health and education.

Director of the WDM, Barry Coates today condemned the IMF and World Bank
for applying a one-size-fits-all, ultra free-market approach: “This is
Jurassic economics, the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher era. They
should be kept in a museum, rather than trampling all over desperately
poor African countries.”

Pointing out that Gordon Brown is the chair of the IMF and Clare Short
sits on the governing body of the World Bank. Mr Coates continued: “The
UK bears particular responsibility because of our influence over these institutions.”

Notes for editors:
1. Facts on Malawi. Malawi owes $2.6bn. It is eligible for $1bn in debt
relief. Even after debt relief, Malawi’s debt will be unsustainable.
Malawi is experiencing a massive hunger crisis, the worst since the
dreadful 1949 famine. It has a huge HIV/AIDS problem - one fifth of the
population are HIV+. One third of the population are undernourished and
well over half live on less than $1a day. One in three are illiterate.
Malawi is an agricultural economy. Tobacco is its main export and maize
is the staple food. IMF policies have also caused massive grain hoarding
and speculation by private traders.

2. The report calls for full cancellation of Malawi’s debt and an end to
the economic conditionality of aid donors and the IMF and World Bank.

3. Kwesi Owusu is the Director of UK based Southern Links. Francis
Ng’ambi is the Chair of the Malawi Economic Justice Network. Contact WDM
to arrange interviews with the authors.

4. Early in 2002 the Malawi Government sold almost all of its 167,000
metric tonne grain reserve following advice from the IMF to reduce costs
and stock levels to pay off a $300m loan from a South African Bank.
Subsequently, in April 2002, Malawi was suspended from the Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries Initiative over allegations of corruption around
the sale.

Download Structural Damage - Executive summary (pdf)
Download Structrual Damage - Full report (pdf)

FORCE FEEDING THE WORLD - a primer on the food aid crisis
Eating GM or starving is a false dilemma. Hundreds of thousands of
tonnes of non-GM grain are available and it should be sent to where it's
needed most. But instead the Bush Administration is exploiting famine in
Africa in an effort to support America's biotech industry. It's just the
latest twist in a long and cynical marketing campaign.

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