i n g re d i e nt s
Treat the world well: it was not given to you by your parents
– it was willed to you by your children.
GROWING A FUTURE FOR THE PLANET AND ITS PEOPLE IS A GLOBAL EFFORT.
THE BILLIONS LIVING IN POVERTY ARE CRUCIAL TO SUCCESS.
HOW CAN BRITAIN, AS A RICHER NATION, HELP?
IN MANY WAYS…
examines the big picture – where we fit in as a country, and as
the lie of the land 2 individuals.
uproots some of the more common myths that hang around like
clearing the undergrowth 8 weeds.
looks at some of the hardships faced by the poor – and the need for
hard earth 16 change.
hoe down 26 explores the renewed emphasis on sharing approaches t o
development and the environment.
water can 32 shows the vital role of clean and reliable water for both food and
live stock 38 talks about how wild life, big and small, makes a real difference to
people and planet.
industrial revolution 44 tells how using tools, technology and brain-po wer can help change
paper trails 52 leads back to the big picture: how Go vernments and individuals can
make a difference.
the granary 60 stores the seeds of further information.
Let us not be weary in well doing:
for in due season we shall reap,
if we faint not.
Bible, Galatians 6:9
Are you sitting comfortably?
FOR YEARS, CHILDREN IN BRITAIN COULD SWITCH ON THE RADIO AND
‘LISTEN WITH MOTHER’ TO A GOOD STORY. AS ADULTS, ESPECIALLY IN
RICHER COUNTRIES, WE HAVE LESS TIME FOR STORIES. WE TEND TO
LEARN ABOUT A CHANGING WORLD THROUGH SOUND BITES, 60
SECOND TV NEWS CLIPS AND ATTENTION-GRABBING HEADLINES.
THE BIG PICTURE GETS BIGGER, BUT WE HAVE LESS TIME TO LOOK.
POVERTY AND THE ENVIRONMENT ARE USUALLY PRESENTED SIMPLY
AS DISTRESSING NEWS. BUT THE REAL STORY IS MORE INTERESTING,
MORE HOPEFUL – AND RATHER DIFFERENT.
email@example.com TELLS SOME OF THAT STORY.
an elderly planet conformist streak in the British psyche influenced
with a weight problem the modern world, from the anti-slavery movement
We live on the thin, cracked and crusty exterior of an to campaigning groups.
elderly planet – with a weight problem. Oxfam, Amnesty, Christian Aid, Friends of the
6 billion years old, hits the scales at some 6,000 Earth, Survival International and Live Aid are just
billion tonnes, and gains weight at 25 tonnes a day some of the international groups or charities which
(all that meteor dust). Dieting isn’t an option. Apart began at home.
from a few hundredweight of orbiting litter left by Not surprisingly, both sides still exert influence.
space missions, everything stays. Britain plays a global role through the UN and
A long time ago, people began using their Commonwealth, for instance. More recently, Britain
enormous brains to fashion the natural world – and has backed the global fight against poverty.
its gifts – into a new world. A world of tools and
possibilities. A built world. charity begins at home
Take a look. Wherever you are, you’ll see people In 1601, Parliament passed The Charitable Uses Act,
living in communities built with the stuff of Nature. listing four areas of charity: poverty relief;
Nature’s resources are limited. Our minds are not – education; church work and ‘other purposes of
and it’s time to use them to improve our benefit to the community’.
relationship with Planet Earth. In the 20th century we have begun to realise
that the ‘community’ is not just local, it’s global. On
the world about us the threshold of the 21st century, it’s a lesson we are
Th e re ’s an old joke, possibly from India, and still learning.
sometimes told against the French: David Bryer, Director of Oxfam: ‘In a world where
‘Why did the sun never set on the British Empire?’ the gaps between rich and poor – that’s rich and
‘Because God didn’t trust the English in the dark.’ poor people, and rich and poor nations – are still
Britain has a long history of interfering overseas increasing, there’s a moral demand that we do
– yet its history is not simply colonial. A non- something. There’s also an enlightened self-interest
in the world coming closer together. Britain needs 2015. That’s before a baby born in Britain in 1997 can
trade with the rest of the world. So it needs a world vote.
that’s peaceful, growing and economically sound’. DFID is the spearhead of the development effort
It’s not just those at the top who think this way. run on behalf of the British
Steve Morley is an Oxfam volunteer in his twenties, people. And it’s quite an We don’t want
based in Bristol. He’s excited by fair trade and the effort. About two billion
possibilities it offers. When he started, he still saw pounds of effort, in fact. concessions for poor
things with something of a student’s eye: Each year. Over £30 for
‘Before I volunteered I thought Oxfam was just e ve ry man, woman and people – we want
old women meeting in church halls. But fair trade child in the country. (No,
was something I could really link into. On a global you can’t have it back.) opportunities.
level, everything we buy as consumers has an So what do you get for
impact. But the main thing about fair trade for me your money? What are Michael Taylor, Director, Christian Aid
is that it’s about people.’ DFID up to? Quite a lot.
firstname.lastname@example.org back to growing things
As you may have guessed by now, this is a story DFID is a well-known farmer in the development
about people and their earth. field, giving technical support, expert help, financial
The Department for International Development assistance and emergency relief.
(DFID) is the new Department set up by the UK There are plenty of others involved, too. DFID
Government in May 1997. Its focus is on world works with governments and villages – and points
poverty. between. It pools intelligence, ideas, people and
Its first Cabinet Secretary, Clare Short, has resources with other groups and agencies.
publicly committed her Department to an In richer co u nt ri e s, development and the
ambitious but achievable target: to halve the environment struggle to make the news. In poorer
proportion of people living in extreme poverty by countries, newspapers, radio and TV are full of it.
Stimulated by the extraordinary success of the These simple questions need answers. But first let ’s
Earth Summit in 1992, a new harvest of ideas is look at some of the m yths choking the field.
Some of the best come from communities
around the world, from people in villages, towns
and cities. And from other communities, too –
whether scientists, foresters or campaign groups.
What is remarkable – and exciting – is that many
of these ideas are beginning to converge.
At the Earth Summit in 1992, everyone agreed:
‘Human beings are at the centre of [our] concerns…
they’re entitled to a healthy and productive life in
harmony with nature.’
from Principle 1, Rio Declaration, 1992.
It was also obvious that the world’s poor –
struggling daily for the basics of life – could do with
some assistance: ‘presence, helping, aiding… relief ’.
And help with development: ‘a gradual
unfolding; fuller working out of the details… growth
of what is in the germ, growth from within’.
Dictionary definitions ma ke it seem simple, but
most of us are still confused. Just how bad is the
environmental crisis? Is it too late? Can anything be
All yu Presidents
Think of de residents,
Queens and Kings
Hav sum manners,
Prime Ministers please,
Think of de trees.
Those dat sail
Tek care of de whales,
De strong should seek
To strengthen de weak,
Lovers of art
Should play their part,
An all those upon it
Tek care of de planet.
They tend to go for a
very simple script: here
is a starving victim, here
is a villain. (The villain is
an optional extra.
Sometimes the weather
is the villain.)
And here is an outside
saviour coming in to
save the victim. This is
akin to a fairytale.
Alex de Waal, Co-director,
I see two major myths.
The first is ‘there’s no
problem’ – and if there
is, it will be solved by
trade. The other is that
it’s all hopeless and
there’s no point doing
David Bryer, Director, Oxfam
MOST STORIES WE GET ABOUT POVERTY AND THE ENVIRONMENT ARE,
LET’S FACE IT, SOAKED IN CLICHÉ.
IN THE LAST THIRTY YEARS, A WHOLE MOB OF MYTHS HAVE DONE THE
ROUNDS, MUTTERING MENACES, DEMANDING ATTENTION.
MYTHS GET IN THE WAY. TIME TO UPROOT A FEW. 9
myth 1: myth 2:
‘nothing to do with me’ crowded house
But it is. There are too many of us. Over-
From the ozone hole to the food on your plate, population is the real problem. Six
and from acid rain to tourism, the world is linked billion and counting. The planet can’t
together. Every move you make – especially as a cope. The house is crowded. Move up.
consumer – has complex Make room. Go away.
impacts which ri co c h e t th e battle…is over. in the 1970s hun dre ds of
Development is the around the world. Each act millions of people are going to s tar ve to death.
of Nature is the same. Paul R. Ehrlich, opening words, The Population Bomb (1968)
best contraceptive. Development plays Let’s take a look. In 1974, Bangladesh and
an important part in Ethiopia had severe famines. Each killed some
attributed to Karan Singh, changing the world – and 100,000 people. In the late 1970s, a million
former Indian diplomat. so do you, because the Cambodians starved to death. Many others
taxpayer funds DFID. But regularly went without food. But ‘hundreds of
people share in growing a better future in many millions of people’ did not starve. Here’s the real
ways: as volunteers, using charity cards, fairly- story...
traded tea or coffee, or taking part in Local Agenda Almost a quarter of the people on earth went
21 (the bit of the Earth Summit declaration hungry in 1950 – one in ten do now. That’s one in ten
promoting local involvement in local affairs). Or by too many – but by any measure, it is progress. The
reading this. last fifty years have seen massive increases in global
the grandch ildren of the richest people in th e food production.
world n eed a healthy planet as much as the mos t The rate of population growth peaked at 2% in
hungry street ch ild . 1968, when The Population Bomb came out. It’s now
Clare Short under 1.5% per year. According to the UN, ‘the
growth of the world’s population has slowed
dramatically.’ Earth gets 80 million newborn a year myth 3:
these days – compared to 90 million at the start of ‘nothing to be done’
the 1990s. OK, so the problem isn’t just about
One reason poor people tend to have more population, it’s about development.
children is because they can help on the land, fetch Everyone wants a fridge, a car, a new
water and wood. Children mean security – and their outfit, a chunk of brown meat and red
work can increase income. sauce in a white bap, another electronic
So if supplies of food, water and wood can be whatnot... You can’t stop it. There’s
made more reliable, and income increased, nothing to be done.
population pressure is reduced. Instead of Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot has two
struggling to get by, extra resources can be (and are) tramps, Estragon and Vladimir, saying ‘nothing to
devoted to giving fewer children more education – be done’ so often, and about so little, that it
and a better start in life. becomes painfully funny.
Today, over half of all couples use contraception It’s not so funny when people say the same thing
– back in the sixties, about 10% did. In Asia, parts of about the planet, or the people it supports.
Africa and Europe, the average number of children Especially when so many live in extreme poverty.
born to each woman is falling. Then it becomes ignorance – the act of ignoring.
Progress is being made, even as population People say ‘we are destroying the planet’. We’re
increases. not. We’re changing the planet – but the planet will
survive even if people, tigers and whales don’t.
Forests will continue to become fields (and vice
versa), rivers be dammed for power and coral dug
up to build houses. But at the same time, the UN
points out that life expectancies, literacy rates and
nutrition are all improving throughout the
developing world. This is important. When did you
last live through a famine? local governments and others thought they had a
The interactions between people and their handle on the front line between scrubby
planet are enormously complex. Simple answers grasslands – savanna – in West Africa and the
just don’t exist. There are, however, some simple remaining forest. ‘It’s an ecologically fragile area,’
and powerful ideas with which to seek solutions. they said. ‘Th e re ’s a deforestation crisis,’ they
Can we do something? Of course we can. We agreed. Scenes of burning trees were described as
forget that finding enough food was a major ‘wanton destruction’.
problem for richer countries not so long ago. (Not DFID funded two British researchers, Melissa
surprising if you have to learn 19th century British Leach and James Fairhead, to look at local views on
history. All those dreary Corn Laws.) ‘the problem’.
In 1929, barely a lifetime ago using Western life First they talked to elderly villagers about their
expectancies, 90% of children in the East End of memories of the local area. Then they dug out aerial
London were malnourished and suffered rickets, photos from the 1950s and colonial records from the
and many children went barefoot. So change is last century.
possible – if we have the will. Piece by piece they built up a jigsaw of new
Trekking into the future, we need to boldly think information. Forests grow in ‘islands’ around the
– and to act, too. After all, sometimes people are local villages of North Guinea because of people.
actually good for the environment. Clearing savanna land for agriculture and homes
Time for a box. encouraged trees.
the trees come, so new land becomes old – water
a hundred years of solitude has entered, the hoe has softe ned it. it has become
since our ances tors ’ time we have worked this like old lan d.
lan d, and you see trees. th ere, the land has no t Layebe Mansare
been worke d. no trees . When people create new villages, forests follow.
Layebe Mansare, Toly village elder, Guinea, West Africa When villages are abandoned, Nature ensures the
For a hundred years, colonial administrators, savanna quickly creeps back. The farmers in the
Kissidougou region use techniques which date back Or Sri Lanka. Between 1947 and 1977 it virtually
centuries – and include burning trees to clear and eradicated malaria at a cost of around $52 million.
enrich farmland. Forests increase as a result of these Or Tanzania. DFID is involved in work showing
activities. infection rates for HIV, the AIDS virus, fall by 40%
For thousands of years, people and the when other sexual diseases get early treatment.
environment have found ways to work together. In Using clever statistical techniques, the researchers
this part of West Africa humans nurture the Nature work out how much has been spent for each year of
– and improve it. life gained. About seven pounds. Hardly billions –
and hardly a situation which ‘remains the same’.
myth 4: To be fair, ‘development doesn’t work’ is
‘development doesn’t work’ wrapped round a grain of truth. For years, many
people are just fed up, particularl y with the international development projects concentrated
african si tuation wh ere billions of pou nds have on short-term relief – and big ‘glamorous’ projects.
gone in and the si tuation remains the s ame. Rich countries tended to give things to poorer
Robert Whelan, Institute for Economic Affairs. countries – from airports to overblown conferenc e
It’s easy to see how this myth came about. Richer ce nt res. Money was siphoned off by corrupt
countries have given to poorer countries for years, politicians or wasted on ‘vanity’ projects. (A bit like
and still the TV shows poverty, famines, floods and vanity tables, only the size of large buildings.)
disease. Our attention is repeatedly drawn to all the Development organisations gave what they
sorrows of the world. Nothing seems to change. thought other countries wanted (and looked for
Again, we donate to a charity as another crisis goes direct returns in terms of trade). Donors sometimes
prime-time . found it easier to listen not to the poor, but to the
But take South Korea. It re ce i ved lots of powerful.
assistance over the years, spent much of it on
education, and became a ‘Tiger’ economy. Was this
news? It should have been.
a word from the Prof. myth 5:
Myth 4 became so common a number of ‘so there’s no problem, then?’
organisations, including DFID, turned to an As if.
independent expert, Oxford University Professor This is a new myth. The one to fall back on when
Richard Cassen, to see if development worked. the others have been cleared away.
He found it did. But there are problems: ‘It takes It’s tempting to think that if there’s news of
an awfully long time. The average aid project is successful development projects then we can all
around five to eight years, and evaluation takes two relax.
or three years more. So it’s a ten year process. And Far from it.
then you’ve got the learning time.’ The following pages look at what’s happening
Spot that last phrase: ‘the learning time’. on the ground, and how DFID – and many others –
Assistance doesn’t always work – and mistakes will are supporting change.
happen – but there’s now plenty of evidence After years of trial and error, people may be
showing real progress. Affecting real lives. But ‘the starting to get it right. But the answers are not
learning time’ means this news takes time to filter simple – and the war by no means won.
through to the wider world.
On a grand scale in South Asia
where the green revolution can
mean three crops a year.
In the eyes of the women proudly
showing me household goods
bought with profits from collector
well community gardens.
Or the eyes of a Nairobi slum baker
showing me his oven, bought with
a loan from a DFID-backed credit
Don’t try telling them it’s all
John Vereker, Permanent Secretary, DFID
ASK MOST PEOPLE TO THINK ABOUT AID, AND THEY
THINK OF STARVING CHILDREN. FROM BOSNIA AND
BANGLADESH TO BURUNDI AND BEIRUT, IT’S TRAGEDY
THAT BRINGS THE NEWS CREWS.
THERE’S ONE TRAGEDY YOU’RE PROBABLY UNAWARE OF:
THE FACT THAT YOU RARELY SEE STORIES ABOUT POOR
PEOPLE SUCCEEDING. WITH GUTS, DETERMINATION –
AND A LITTLE HELP FROM THEIR FRIENDS.
We have suffered four major famines.
The first was AMZAYTONE,‘the time we
sold our necklaces’. The second, EL
HARIGUE, ‘the year when everything
burnt’. Our crops shrivelled under the
heat of the sun. The third, in 1982, was
ALCHOUIL, ‘the year of the sack’. Traders
came with sacks of millet. As long as you
had the means, you did not starve.
Finally, in 1985 the big famine came
upon us. We called this LÄITCHE, ‘the
year when everyone fled’.
Nizela Idriss, Mara village, Chad,
from: At the Desert’s Edge
You’re a refugee. In a camp. Disasters, we hope, are short-lived. But every year,
You’ve got problems. new disasters take their toll. On average, DFID is
First things first: food. involved in around a hundred relief operations each
There’s a basic handout of maize, maybe some year – somewhat more than make the TV news.
milk powder for the children, but it’s not enough. Take earthquakes alone: on average, they’ve
There’s a market – but you were poor before you killed nearly 22,000 people annually since 1969.
became a refugee. And famine and drought are much bigger
Then there’s water. It has to be collected from a problems.
river until a borehole is drilled. But is it clean? DFID is by far the biggest source of UK funds for
And you need fuel, to heat water, cook and keep disaster-related activities. About 10% of the DFID
warm at night. Women and children, who collect budget now goes to emergency relief (compared to
most fuelwood, walk further every day – putting about 2% in the early 1980s). A large proportion of
them at personal risk. this is channelled through others, from the UN High
At night in northern Pakistan or India, say, Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and World
temperatures can fall to minus 40 degrees Health Organisation (WHO) to CARE International,
centigrade. Fuel matters. Oxfam, the Red Cross and other such groups.
Your camp has a population density that doesn’t Money goes where it’s needed. In just one
bear thinking about. And the numbers grow: month in Rwanda, Britain directed money into food
refugee camps have one of the highest birth rates in aid, water tankers and sanitation schemes, police
the world. training, books, radios for women’s groups, fire
The camp is like a small world – schools, shops, engines – and helping refugees return home, .
roads, hospitals, fo re s t s, small fa rm s, crowded
housing… but like the big world, the basic problems
don’t change: food, water, fuel, shelter, income.
How are you doing?
Let them gather all
the food of those
good years that
biblical This is not a new come, and lay up corn
Fortunately, better communications now make for a approach. In 1663, the Royal
quicker response, as this group of elders from the Society had a suggestion to under the hand of
village of Gourga in Burkina Faso testify: p re ve nt famine. It urged
‘In the Suya [‘grasshoppers’] famine, we were people to try planting those Pharaoh, and let
plagued for three years in a row by grasshoppers. new-fangled potato things.
Other famines were as bad, but we didn’t give them Within a hundred years, them keep food in
names, because the hardship was alleviated by they were all over Europe.
modern transport and other kinds of aid.’ Individuals, too, can the cities.
from: At the Desert’s Edge make a difference. Ray
This almost Biblical account of a plague of Simpson is a retired legal Bible, Genesis 41 (Joseph to the Pharaoh)
grasshoppers reminds us that Nature and mankind consultant from Britain. In
have an ancient relationship, with both highs and the Second World War he was a wireless operator in
lows. the RAF, but for the past 50 years he’s lived in
There are other examples of aid provision by Zimbabwe. He witnessed one of Zimbabwe’s worst
enlightened rulers, too. In 123BC, the Roman tribune droughts in living memory:
Gaius Gracchus pushed through a law to protect the ‘We were distributing relief in remote areas of
poor from famine. In 1006 the Chinese Emperor Matebeleland. In one village they made me a cup of
Song built granaries as insurance against famine. In tea. It tasted awful, and I asked them how they
1281, Kubla Khan had inspectors check crops and buy made it. They said “we get some newspaper and
surpluses for the same reason. burn it, and put the ashes in hot water”. You drink it
because they’ve gone to so much trouble, but it
poorest of the poor shows you – these are the poorest of the poor.’
It’s not enough to tackle disaster when it happens. Ray used a long-standing interest in agriculture
DFID is determined to help prevent them from to cast around for solutions. He recently came up
happening in the first place. with one type of tree, kno wn as the physic nut tree.
This tree grows quickly and resists drought. S ah a ran Africa, global food production has
Animals avoid eating its leaves, so it can act as a expanded faster than the human population.’
‘living fence’ to protect crops from greedy goats, It all comes down to seeds. In the 1940s, Norman
cattle and wild life. It even appears to be helped develop the high-yield, low-pesticide dwarf
unattractive to mosquitoes. wheat that a large part of the world depends on.
It also produces a valuable oil for which there is This strain of wheat helped reduce the
a cash market – a crop that can be harvested a year widespread hunger that haunted India and
or so after planting. Pakistan in the 1960s (and which many still
Since then, a group of Ndebele girls from a youth associate with those countries). It grows rapidly,
club in Bulawayo have helped Ray pack and needs less water – and gives spect a cu l a r
distribute hundreds of thousands of seeds to over improvements.
half the schools in Matabeleland. It wasn’t easy for Norman. Back in the sixties, he
DFID funds are not unlike the seeds of Ray was in India and Pakistan trying to persuade
Simpson’s Tree Plan Zimbabwe. The start of a reluctant governments to back his new dwarf
process. But it takes the ideas, enthusiasm and wheat. The sheer depth of famine in 1965 changed
involvement of local people to ma ke them grow. things, and they agreed to try it .
Norman had a 35 truck convoy take the seed
stormin’ Norman from New Mexico to Los Angeles for shipment.
You may not have heard of Norman Borlaug, an Mexican police held up the convoy. So did US border
American Nobel Peace Prize winner in his eighties. agents. Riots in LA stopped access to the port.
He too saw better plants as a way to avoid human Finally, the seed set sail. Norman recalls ‘I went to
disaster. bed thinking the problem was at last solved, and
In Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity (Atlantic woke up to the news that war had broken out
Monthly), Greg Easterbrook writes: ‘Perhaps more between India and Pakistan.’
than anyone else, Borlaug is responsible for the fact Even so, a late sowing with poor germination
that throughout the post-war era, except in sub- increased yields by 70%. This prevented war-time
starvation – the most common cause of famine. dramatically reducing food insecurity.’
Norman recalls the next harvest as ‘beautiful, a 98% Mono-cropping reduces the variety of modern
improvement’. agriculture and is a global problem. It’s easy to
By 1974 India was self-sufficient in cereals, and forget just how many crop varieties there are. Walk
since Norman’s seed arrived in Pakistan, cereal round a supermarket in a rich country and you
production has increased by a factor of about six. might see a hundred or so. But there are thousands
This inc redible achievement came to be known more. Nature has spent millions of years devising
as the Green Revolution. Thanks to it, world food different plants and animals (including us) to suit
production has almost quadrupled since 1950 – local conditions.
using just 1% more land. B e fo re wheat, rice and other staples were
without high-yi eld agricu ltu re eith er millions farmed, they grew wild. In Africa, there are
would ha ve star ved or increases in food outpu t thousands of ‘lost crops’ – crops awaiting
wou ld have been realised through losses of rediscovery. Including over a hundred edible grass
pristine land a hu ndred times greater than all seeds.
l osses to urban and suburban ex pansion. Many varieties grow in extreme conditions or
Norman Borlaug are good at resisting pests. When South America’s
coffee crop faced disaster from a disease in the
spice the world 1960s, a wild Ethiopian coffee plant proved resistant
Not everyone was a fan of the Green Revolution. – and rescued a multi-billion dollar industry.
As Neil Thin of Edinburgh University reports: The total variety of life goes by the cumbersome
‘there were problems with the promotion of name biodiversity – itself a shortened version of
“miracle seeds”. Mono-cropping, intensive biological diversity. Such variety is more than the
production and irrigation carry environmental risks. spice of life. It’s essential to it.
These problems are not insuperable, and most
sceptics have been humbled into agreeing that the
Green Revolution helped both rich and poor by
Go down to Kew in
lilac-time, in lilac-
time, in lilac-time;
Go down to Kew in
roots lupin – a common garden plant, with a name
lilac-time (it isn’t far St. Helena, a tiny island 1200 meaning ‘wolf-like’ – discovered in Yukon, Canada.)
miles West of Angola, DFID works closely with universities and
from London). preserves plants in a internationally important centres like Kew, the
n at i o n al park, and stores Oxford Forestry Institute and the Centre for Tropical
Alfred Noyes, Barrel-Organ their seeds in a ‘seed Veterinary Medicine in Edinburgh.
orchard’. Ask people what chara ct e rises the British
Similar work goes on at Wakehurst Place, Kew development effort, and they often point to the
Gardens’ West Sussex estate. The ‘Millennium Seed strength of British institutions – and how deep their
Bank’ there wi ll draw together 20 years of research roots are. DFID also supports many international
into a vast seed store. agricultural research centres, from the International
By 2000, Kew hope to have stashed away seeds Potato Centre to the International Rice Research
from all UK species. By 2010, they aim to have Institute.
rounded up seeds from 10% of the world’s plants.
To start with, Kew will concentrate on seeds on the road
from the world’s arid areas – parts of Africa, India These institutional roots and connections lie behind
and Latin America. These are the species most at another story.
risk, with a quarter of the world’s population Th e re ’s a modern phenomenon which is
depending on them for food, building materials and environmental, and looks like it’s here to stay: road
This will be a co-operative bank, with Kew Currently, almost two thirds of a million people
making close links with overseas countries. lose their lives on the roads each year. Around X of
Everyone will benefit. these deaths happen in poorer countries.
Once banked, seeds can keep for centuries, even In fact, in developing countries, only respiratory
millennia. (Scientists once made a ten thousand diseases are bigger killers of those aged 5–44. DFI D
year old seed germinate and sprout. It was an Arctic helped the British Transport Research Laboratory
(TRL) to study this. TRL found as many as half those pesticides. Some of these chemicals are pretty nasty,
dying are pedestrians – mostly children. both for people and their environment. An example
One way to reduce accidents is by better of the ‘solution’ breeding new problems.
planning and design of road networks, and so DFID DFID searches out solutions with less impact on
funded TRL to develop and distribute (to 130 people and the land. Well over £150 million has been
co u nt ri e s) a manual, Towards Safer Roads in committed to sustainable agriculture since the
Developing Countries. Earth Summit, and one area where DFID has had
TRL also dreamt up MAAP – the Microcomputer considerable success is with insects.
Accident Analysis Package, now used successfully in Tsetse flies are infamous as carriers of sleeping
Africa and Asia. It’s a low-cost system to store and sickness. For many years they were controlled by
analyse accident data. It’s user-friendly, too, so non- planes flying over infested areas, drenching them
computer types can use it to help identify accident- with extremely toxic, planet-hostile chemicals
prone spots – and make low-cost improvements. known as organochlorines.
How to design a cross-roads. Where to put traffic The alternative wasn’t much better. Tsetse flies
lights (or ‘robots’ as they say in Southern Africa). live on animals, and so forests were felled – and the
What signs people need – and where they should wildlife shot.
go. Hardly headline-grabbing stuff, but an D F ID - s u p p o rted research came up with an
important example of global research helping local ingenious solution using cotton screens. These are
people make the world safer for their children. soaked in a chemical which, to the tsetse, stinks of
cow. Attracted to the screens, they discover an
tsetse suicide insecticide. Effectively, they commit suicide. It deals
Disasters can be man-made or natural. with the problem – but with a much lower impact
Take insects. They can spread disease to animals on the environment.
and humans or blight crops. In modern times Then there’s malaria.
farmers, who bear the brunt of this, have responded Some historians think half the people who ever
aggressively with powerful chemicals including lived died of malaria. Alexander the Great and Oliver
Cromwell were two well-known victims. (Cromwell i n fo rm ation and training to everyone from
because he refused ‘the Papish cure’, as the quinine sanitation engineers and doctors to relief workers
discovered by Jesuits was sometimes known.) and local government officials. He explains just how
Today, malaria is on the rise. It’s possibly the tough the cholera bacteria, called a vibrio, is:
third biggest killer on earth. Britain is affected, too, ‘When the first spacecraft from the moon
with thousands of new cases each year. landed, it was whisked off to a safe area for
Once, people thought malaria was spread by decontamination. They feared Apollo might have
‘bad air’ – hence the name. But today, we know brought back bacteria from space.
malaria is caused by one of the tiniest creatures on ‘What they discovered were large quantities of
earth: a plasmodium. In 1897, Ronald Ross vibrios – from the surface of the sea. These bacteria
demonstrated the malaria cycle. A century on, new love latching onto solid surfaces. Imagine: there
vaccines are being developed. they are and suddenly Apollo arrives, full of lovely
surfaces. It’s this desire to latch onto the surface of
the collywobbles the gut which gives you cholera in the first place.’
Diseases don’t always need insects to get around. To attack cholera, first you sort out better drains,
Nine days after the premiere of his Pathetique a job DFID is helping with in shanty towns in Brazil
Symphony (No. 6), Tchaikovsky died aged 53. He had – and elsewhere. This stops the disease jumping
succumbed to what was then called cholera morbus. from house to house. Then you look at people’s
The disease is remembered in ‘the collywobbles’ – a behaviour. As Sandy says, good habits start early:
corrupt version of the old term. Cholera epidemics ‘Washing hands with soap is one of the single
have often swept by – and influenced history. Some most important things you can do. One researcher
historians think this water- and food-borne disease in Bangladesh found f ree soap and basic education
triggered the spate of revolutions last century. could cut dysentery by about 85%.’
Sandy Ca i rn cross, of the London School of The earth can be a hard place. But even simple
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is setting up a science can make it softer.
centre on infectious diseases for DFID. It will give
Justice begins with the
recognition of the
necessity of sharing.
Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power
TO GROW INTO STRONG AND HEALTHY PLANTS, SEEDS
NEED RAIN, SHINE AND N UTRIENTS. THE SUM IS GREATER
THAN THE PARTS.
IN DEVELOPMENT, IT’S THE SAME. IF PEOPLE GET
TOGETHER, THEY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. SHARING THE
EFFORT – WHETHER WORKING THE LAND OR LANDING
THE WORK – IS RECKONED TO BE THE WAY FORWARD.
TAKE YOUR PARTNERS BY THE HAND...
Ideas won’t keep:
something must be
done about them. share value committees took responsibility for the water-
Is there a big idea around? pumps. Maintenance costs fell by over half, and
Alfred North Whitehead Something simple but with breakdowns from 50% to 11%. In Nicaragua, local
the power to change the supervision of a barrio (shanty) upgrading project
way everything is done? James Wolfensohn, head of helped complete the project in 3V years instead of
the World Bank, thinks so: ‘The message is very five. While in the Philippines, local management of
simple: participation works’. irrigation increased crop yields – and income – by
Sharing, participation, ownership (call it what up to 50%.
you will), all these concepts crystallise around a Every other agency worldwide can point to
central idea. As the Earth Summit put it, people, and similar findings.
the way they live, are at the centre of our concerns
for Nature. share and share alike
the biggest lesson the donors ha ve learn ed is that In the past, some environmentalists put saving
aid has got to be ‘own ed’ by the people who rece ive trees or whales or elephants or Nature at the top of
it. both the people and the go vernments . unless their list. People trailed a poor second. A very poor
that is so, i t’s not like l y to work. second.
Prof. Richard Cassen, Oxford University some environmental lobbyis ts... are the salt of th e
Sharing or ‘participatory’ approaches are now earth, but many are elitis ts. the y’ve never
used in forestry, wildlife management, agriculture, experienced the physical se nsation of hu nger.
sanitation, infrastructure – you name it, wherever th ey do th eir lobbying from comfor table offices .
development is occurring. It’s happening locally, Norman Borlaug
nationally, regionally and internationally – and as Yet gradua lly people-people and Nature-people
combinations of all these. are coming together. Because the answer is to find
Here are some real world examples from the better ways for people to relate to Nature.
World Bank. The last twenty years have seen Britain and
In Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, village many of its partners using sharing or ‘participatory’
methods. It’s an approach which can work for report the project is With participation
hippos and humans, medicine and plants. improving water-supply,
Take forests. The locals are the main users of reducing soil-erosion and people come
forests – 80% of African and Asian fuel is wood. But increasing the number and
for years, large numbers of local people were variety of species – the together in terms
excluded from decisions about (and responsibility ‘biological diversity’.
for) their forests. Instead, power rested with Some benefits are of management.
gove rn m e nt s, forest departments and private p a rt i cularly encouraging.
companies. DFID-supported projects in Dr N. Kaji Shrestha, Women Acting
The UK–Nepal community forest project has Nepal, Nigeria, Niger and Together for Change, Nepal
been running for decades. It’s led to impressive Sudan have all stimulated
results. By involving everyone, from the bottom up, people to plant more trees privately – by improving
people are more likely to feel they have ‘a share’ in awareness and skills.
their forests. Mohamed el Awad Ali is a Sudanese elder who
Local communities are often the real experts – fought with the Allied Middle East forces in the
they know what works and what help is needed. By Second World War. Since then, he has farmed in his
jointly managing their forests, and sharing overall village, El Ushare in Shendi. His region is the biggest
responsibility, relationships change for the better. producer of onions and beans in the country, but
Of course, sharing approaches still need money. loss of forests and soil-erosion are big problems.
They take a long time to set up. In Nepal, for Solutions are possible. He reports that:
instance, project workers spoke with individual these new mesquite trees n eed little w ater an d
households and local village committees and local protect the soi l . we didn’t know these advan tages
officials and national officials and international before the de vel opme project .
foresters and… the list goes on. And on. But an awful From: At the Desert’s Edge
lot of useful stuff comes out in the wash of words.
Nepal now has better-quality forests. Villagers
wet, wet, dry destroying the forest canopy or breaking up its
‘Save the rainforest’ was a popular slogan for many delicate ecosystem… Next is an equally detailed
years. But there are other types of ‘wet’ forest which survey of local people’s needs – to ensure that their
are important and in need of support, like cloud use of the forest for fruit, nuts, game and medicines
forest, moist forest and monsoon forest. (And let’s is not hampered by the logging programmes.’
not forget ‘dry’ forest, either.) from: Forests for Life, WWF
DFID support for forests, wet or dry, varies as Forestry is in some ways less about trees and
much as the forests. A major project might help a more about people. For a secure future, complex
co u nt ry redefine its forestry strategy. Smaller links between forestry and agriculture, population,
programmes support communities who rely on land ownership and economic reform all need to be
forests for basics like fuel, food and earning money explored – and addressed.
(from honey to tooth-picks). The secret lies in If everyone can be drawn into decisions about
knowing the facts, and working with local people. forests, and a framework for good practice put in
Sometimes the best way to help local place, forests – and the people who rely on them –
communities, or very valuable forests, is to look at will be safer in the long run.
the whole country. Martin Wright describes a
project Britain supports in Ghana: cousin Gokwe
‘During the 1980s, economic recession and Zimbabwe is in many ways fortunate. It has rich
pressure from foreign banks pushed Ghanaians into natural resources (the Victoria Falls, for starters) and
destructive logging of their dwindling forests. The a well-defined administration.
British response has been to conduct an exhaustive Zimbabwe’s government is like a pyramid – from
inventory of the remaining forests (largely in centre to province to district to ward and, finally, to
reserves), charting the different types of forest and villages. It works, but tends to keep control (and
the mix of tree species, fauna and flora. money) at national and provincial levels.
‘This has helped Ghana’s foresters work out Gokwe is sometimes described as ‘the poor
ways of selectively felling high-value trees without cousin’ of Zimbabwe’s districts. For years Gokwe put
together plans, sent them to pr ovincial level (where best development plans they had seen – from
the money was) and waited. And waited. Gokwe, the poor cousin. ‘What’s going on down
Zimbabwe was keen to explore a more local there?’ they asked. So the Ministry came to visit –
approach, so 10 years ago it agreed to a very unusual and decided to apply the scheme across the country.
idea to help out Gokwe.
DFID knew that if local planning was to have an governments n eed to a ccept they don’t ha ve a
impact, it needed to be driven by, and visibly benefit, monopol y. where a small group or non-
local people. Asked why they were so poor, Gokwe government org anis ation has the adv antage,
District Administrators always gave the same support them. and if i t’s not working – th en get
answer: ‘money’. So DFID handed some over. With out.
no strings – except local involvement. Yemi Katerere, World Conservation Union
Great! Bit by bit, villagers were encouraged to
think about what they really wanted. A school, a
nursery, a hospital or maybe a road? And which
should come first? Initially, a DFID ‘technical co-
operation officer’ helped point villagers to key
issues – but adamantly refused to take any
decisions. That was the district’s job.
There were problems though. The money was
there, but budgets became overdrawn. Contractors
weren’t properly supervised – and did bad work. The
district off i ci als got together to deal with the
problems. Through experience, training and new
procedures, the district learned it wasn’t just about
money, after all.
Soon, Zimbabwean Ministers were reading the
Propped between trees
Nor any drop to drink.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Ancient Mariner
IF FISH RULED THE EARTH, IT WOULD BE CALLED
WATER, EVEN MORE THAN FOOD, IS ESSENTIAL TO
LIFE. (YOU DIE OF THIRST, FIRST.)
3% OF WATER IS FRESH (TWO THIRDS OF THAT IS
LOCKED IN THE ICE CAPS). BRITAIN HAS WATER ON
TAP. SO WE TEND TO WASTE IT. BUT WATER IS
ALREADY A GLOBAL ISSUE. SOON, WATER COULD BE
THE GLOBAL ISSUE.
In the drought, we
But now, we are
like chiefs. dreamer main hole, horizontal feeder pipes are drilled
his dream w as honoure d. sideways from the well to supply more water.
Luke Chikwera, Chairman, Terence Dube, agri cu l t u ralist at Chirikure died before the well was built, but as
Gokota village community garden Chiredzi Research Station, the village finished digging the well, they
Zimbabwe remembered his dream – and named the well after
In tropical countries, as the sun rises or sets, a river him.
of people walk along roads to fetch water from a
pipe. With buckets and jugs, they may walk miles to gushing water
the nearest supply. Getting water is heavy and tiring so let man consider of what he w as created; h e
work – often falling to women and children. The was created of gush ing w ater.
water may not even be safe, but it ’s all there is. Koran, The Night-Star
In 1967, Chirikure Mawadze had a dream. He Dr Godwin Mtetwe, part of the team monitoring
lived in a poor and arid region of Zimbabwe (then the co ll e ctor well project, remembers his own
Rhodesia), populated by stone ruins of the medieval childhood, and how much work was involved to get
ci v il i sation, Great Zimbabwe, from which the water:
country took its name. It was a place where water ‘When I was young we woke at 1 a.m. to water
brought disease – but only after you had walked the animals. The nearest borehole was four
miles to fetch it. His dream told him that one day, in kilometres away. If you got up at 4 a.m., you would
his village, there would a really fine well – and a wait hours for your turn.’
beautiful garden. Godwin notes that a community garden around
Twenty years later, as a result of the DFID each well means the villagers now grow vegetables
Groundwater Collector Wells Pilot Project, his dream all year. They sell the surplus, getting much-needed
is a reality. extra cash, and are even engaged in competitions
The project, based around the Rumwe water for ‘best kept plot’ and ‘best garden’.
catchment area, has introduced nine wells of a The wells and gardens become a social focus too.
unique design. The clever bit is that as well as a big A meeting place to talk and discuss life, to share
problems – and hopes. Younger villagers like to get mother’s little helper
together there. Caroline Kurauone’s surname is a Water is not enough – it needs to be clean.
mark of how difficult life can be: it’s Shona for ‘grow Seeds help here, too. Geoff Folkard, a researcher
up and see the problems’. Fortunately, Caroline is at the University of Leicester’s Engineering
not marred by her surname: she’s a local beauty. D e p a rt m e nt, used DFID
Co ll e cting water at the well, she re ce nt l y funds to look at the The first possibility
received a written proposal from an admirer to potential of seeds from a
become ‘my mother’s daughter-in-law’ – a sub-tropical tree called, in of rural cleanliness
traditional and delicate African proposal of Latin, Moringa oleifera.
marriage. M o ri n ga has many lies in water
Dr Chris Lovell is a British engineer working for diffe re nt names like the
the Institute of Hydrology on the project. He says Horse-Radish, Ben-Oil and supply.
the success of the pilot project led to another kind of Drumstick tree, but in East
proposal from the Zimbabweans – to create a Africa it is known as Florence Nightingale
further hundred collector-well community gardens ‘mother’s best friend’ –
across the region. showing that people have long known its value.
John Vereker is DFID’s Sir Humphrey – its top civil It’s at t ra ct i ve, withstands long periods of
servant (or ‘Permanent Secretary’). He officially d ro u g ht, needs little attention and grows
opened the Gokota well and was somewhat phenomenally fast – over six foot in the first four
surprised when, as he made his speech, the local months. The flo wers, fruit and leaves can be eaten,
women brought out cups, pots, pans, knives and the roots used to flavour food – and all parts of the
forks – and laid them on the ground. tree are used in local medicines.
A Shona translator explained: these were goods The fact that the moringa flowers all year led Ray
bought with the extra income from growing Simpson (see poorest of the poor, above) to look to
vegetables. A silent and eloquent statement. bees for Tree Plan Zimbabwe’s next project: small-
scale honey-making in Matabeleland.
Geoff Folkard homed in on the way Sudanese trees they tried to eradicate them.
people put crushed moringa seeds in their water Keith Machell is a Liverpudlian who spent many
vessels at home. After oil is extracted from the years working for the Intermediate Technology
seeds, a ‘cake’ is left. Dr Folkard’s research found it Development Group, a charity supported by DFID.
coagulated water, removing up to 98% of bacteria Now he runs Harmony Foods, building commercial
and viruses by sedimentation and simple filtration – markets for moringa and other oils.
a process which can be done at home. He finds the tree pretty much sells itself. ‘The
Unlike alum, the re l at i vely expensive best things in development promote themselves –
commercial chemical normally used in water because they’re useful. In Malawi, you see people
treatments of this kind, mother’s best friend seed- protecting these trees with woven matting and so
cake is ‘much more compact and rather than being on. If people go to that trouble, it must have a value.’
a polluting agent, also has potential as a useful
conditioner and fertiliser for soils.’
As Dr Geoff Folkard and his colleague Dr John
Sutherland write: ‘Technologies for treating water
in developing countries must be robust, cheap to
install and maintain, and no more complex than is
from small seeds
Relatively few of the benefits of moringa trees were
understood when DFID provided ‘seed-funding’ to
research it. Now promotion of the positive results
forms a vital part of ‘growth from within’. Only a
hundred miles from Matabeleland, in Northern
Gokwe, local people thought so little of moringa
Everything should be as
simple as possible
– but not simpler.
THE BRITISH FAMOUSLY LOVE THEIR ANIMALS. UNTIL RECENTLY,
WE HAD MORE LEGISLATION TO PROTECT ANI MA LS THAN
CHILDREN. WE HAVE MORE VOLUNTARY (SOME HAVE NO CHOICE)
VEGETARIANS PER HEAD THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY. BUT OUR
BIGGEST WILDLIFE ARE DEER. OUR WILDEST, THE BADGER.
HOW WOULD BRITISH FARMERS (OR GARDENERS) FEEL IF THEY
HAD HERDS OF AFRICAN ELEPHANTS – WEIGHING UP TO EIGHT
TONNES EACH – TRAMPLING THEIR PLANTS?
IN POORER COUNTRIES, HOW TO MANAGE ANIMALS, BIG AND
SMALL, CAN BE A VERY REAL ISSUE. LIFE, THERE, IS NOT A ZOO.
Africa can’t afford the
luxury of preserving
animals for the sake of it .
Or preserving them
simply for rich people’s
enjoyment. The local
population has to benefit.
Chiredzi River Conservancy
When they are hurt by wild life difficult. Balancing the needs of people and wildlife
people expect africans t o is another problem without a simple answer.
man, they seldom li ve with large an imals Particularly if you go out of an evening to water your
and predators in a w ay yams and find a large and dangerous animal
forget a revenge. that’s simply impossible. behaving more like Rambo than Dumbo.
in kenya, in three years , Most experts agree that if people in richer
Edward Topsell on elephants in 120 people were killed b y countries want wildlife preserved, then the much
The Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts (1607) elephants. if that were t o poorer people whose lives are directly affe ct e d
happen in the us or u k should benefit. There are many possibilities,
you’d ha ve uproar. look including sponsoring relocations, using ‘working
at mad cow disease. i t’s killed how man y, fi ve or elephants’ as in India and Sri Lanka, or safaris –
so? and how many cattle ha ve been slaughtere d which can be photographic, involve ‘trophy’ hunting
as a resu lt? or even ‘non-fatal’ hunting.
Tom Milliken, Director, Traffic East/Southern Africa, African
Elephant Specialist Group. lie down – and don’t move
Today, the influence of the green movement, the Non-fatal hunting? Yes. This is what Dr Euan
importance of wild animals to tourism (one of the Anderson occasionally finds himself up to.
biggest industries in the world) and pressure for A Kenyan vet and virologist, he works as a DFID-
land, make wildlife management a critical issue. funded ‘technical co-operation officer’ for the
Extremely serious mistakes have been made. Zimbabwean Government. Now and then, as part of
From 1963 to 1989, poachers shot 86% of the anti-poaching efforts, Euan tracks rhinos – on foot.
elephants in Africa for their ivory, skin, tails, feet – The alternative, using helicopters, is ‘likely to upset
even their penes. In one decade, numbers plunged the animals’. And an upset black rhino is not to be
by half f rom 1.3 million. Meanwhile, rhino numbers taken lightly. They are one of the most dangerous
are still desperately low. beasts on earth. Or as Euan laconically puts it: ‘I
Can these and other tragedies be avoided? It’s suppose they can be somewhat cantankerous.’
The people thought
wildlife was for white
people. Now they
realise it’s also for us,
A few years ago, George and Madelon Hulme’s The horns grow back, because they see the
life changed when they took eight black rhinos into you see.
the Chiredzi Valley Game Conservancy they run. As Euan Anderson benefits come back. It
Walking the dogs is now a slightly less casual affair says: ‘Horn is like your
than before – rhinos move fast. Nevertheless, the fingernail. It’s the same used to come back as a
black rhinos have settled well and are breeding – material and it’s rather
there are 14 now, about 5% of Zimbabwe’s total like grass: the more you cost. Now it comes back
population. cut it, the more you
George takes up the story: ‘Down the road a have to cut it. It’s like as a benefit.
Canadian hunter had completed an elephant hunt painting the Fo rt h
early, and had a few days in hand. He heard what Bridge, as soon as you Lyson Masango, senior teacher,
Euan was doing and asked if he could come along. get to the end you have Mahenye School, Save Valley, Zimbabwe
Euan darted the rhino – and you have to get much to start again. It grows
closer for this than you do for shooting, because the back in 5 or 6 years. So why not get someone to pay
dart is light and you need a clear view. So Euan saws through the nose to dart him, sell the horn – which
off the rhino’s horn and then revives the rhino with is worth a fortune – and use the proceeds to support
the antidote. We all climbed trees – including the the local community, and spend on anti-poaching
Canadian, who was quite elderly – to watch the efforts?’
rhino get up. He ran around and snorted and was And just in case you find yourself being charged
quite happy. But the hunter was even happier. He by a rhino, Euan’s advice is a) get a tree between you,
was absolutely thrilled. I think he would have paid and preferably climb it or b) (if no tree is available)
thousands of dollars to do it again. And the rhino lie down and do not move. ‘He might maul you a bit
lives on at the end of it .’ and you’d get a few bruises – but he won’t be able to
Dr Euan Anderson and Tom Milliken of Traffic, a hook you.’
charity dedicated to monitoring wildlife trade,
would both like to see trade in rhino horns revived.
campfire to build the schools and repair the clinics.’
we prefer a si tuation wh ere wild life is used for Admire Sakuinje, CAMPFIRE committee member,
photographic safaris because th en the wild life Maparadze village
will be th ere fore ver. people will come, and see, And in the schools, children are now taught both
and go b ack. about the local wild animals – and why they are
Mrs Elizabeth Gapara, CAMPFIRE committee member, Maparadze important to the community.
village, Save Valley ‘I teach the children about the different kinds of
W il dl i fe can be val u ab l e. One successful wild life we have in the area, and the benefits for
homegrown wil dl i fe management project is their parents. They like these lessons.’
CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Nhamo Meteteni, teacher, Maparadze school
Programme For Indigenous Resources). Maparadze is not yet in the guide books, so if
This idea started in Zimbabwe, and DFID has you’re visiting, you might like to drop in.
supported it in various ways. Basically, District
Councils get funds from tourism and hunting – and running elephants and hyenas
pass them on to local communities. CAMPFIRE has reduced poaching and increased
In Maparadze, a village near Gonarezhou revenues, year on year, from small beginnings.
National Park on the South African border, the A nearby community recently negotiated a deal
community’s first money came from an elephant with Zimbabwe Sun Hotels. Two luxury safari lodges
hunt. Yet since then, they’ve decided money is likely have been built on land leased from the Mahenye
to keep flowing from more gentle safaris. villagers.
The village is now building chalets and a camp M at e ri als and labour came from Mahenye
for tourists. As well as running its own safari wherever possible, and on top of employment, the
operation, Maparadze will offer traditional stories, community has shares in the operation, too.
music, dancing and dishes. Income will go straight we look at the cli nic, the gri nding mill s, th e
to the community. schools – and these are all through campfire.
‘We are starting a business. The money will be used Chief Mahenye, Mahenye village
Chief Mahenye, the elder statesman of the the island because you can see one species turn into
village, sees CAMPFIRE meeting modern needs. another in the time it ta kes to walk down a hill:
According to Lyson Masango, in the past it was ‘St Helena could have as many as 400 endemic
different: invertebrates, including the Blushing Snail, which is
‘It was a place of running elephants and hyena. incredibly valuable from the point of view of
We lived on hunting and catching fish. We used to studying speciation. You get one type at the top of
have a very primitive way of life. It has now opened the peaks with thin shells, very big and always
because of CAMPFIRE. The road is maintained and active. On the arid plains, they have thicker shells
so we now have buses operated. Electricity has been and are smaller – with variations in between. A rare
extended to the school and clinic. If we did not have example of evolution in action. While the St Helena
CAMPFIRE, you would see nothing here.’ Spiky Yellow Woodlouse, confined to one small
CAMPFIRE shows an old truth in new clothing. forested peak, is a living fossil – millions of years
Progress comes through a concept the Xhosa, of old.’
South Africa, call ubuntu – roughly meaning ‘people One of Paul’s grails is the St Helena Giant
help people through people’. Earwig. It only ever lived on one part of the island
and suffered badly from the loss of the rocks where
giant earwig it used to live. They were used for building. Alien
The island of St Helena once had a distinguished predators (like mice) didn’t help either.
visitor – Napoleon, exiled there in 1815. His mistress, The Giant Earwig was last observed by Belgian
the famous ‘not tonight, Josephine’ was an early – scientists in the 1960s. They pickled forty. It’s almost
and influential – importer of ‘new’ plants into certainly extinct, but Paul keeps looking .
Europe. But Napoleon was no naturalist, and the This was, after all, the largest earwig in the
island’s importance as a haven for unique species world, growing up to 9 cm long. ‘So big,’ says Paul,
has remained a better-kept secret. ‘it’d nibble your head off.’
Dr Paul Pearce-Kelly is Keeper of Invertebrates
(insects, basically) at London Zoo. He is excited by
‘We must use time
as a tool.’
John F. Kennedy
HUMANS ONCE WERE NOMADS. DOMESTICITY CAME
WITH AGRICULTURE, AT LEAST 10,000 YEARS BACK.
FAST FORWARD TO THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. THE
‘INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION’ STARTS CHANGING THE
R UL E S. NEW TOOLS AND MACHINERY MAKING IT
TODAY, THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY CAN MAKE A REAL
DIFFERENCE. BUT, LIKE ALL DEVELOPMENT, GETTING IT
RIGHT TAKES TIME. TECHNOLOGY IS NO EASY ‘QUICK
FIX’. THAT’S BEEN TRIED IN THE PAST. IT DIDN’T WORK.
SO WHAT DOES?
In this century as in
others, our highest
have the single aim of
bringing humans inventor Trevor Baylis – the Baygen Freeplay
come together clockwork radio. It never needs batteries, just thirty
together. Communication is vital. seconds winding up for 30 minutes play.
Better communications, DFID played a role at an early stage. They
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars from radio and roads to gambled on what was then still an unknown
aeroplanes and the quantity – but one with enormous potential – and
internet, mean that coming together has never stumped up £200,000 development money. As Andy
been more possible Bearpark, Head of DFID’s Emergency Aid
Women are among those seeing results: Department, says:
‘Nowadays the radio is the major source of ‘It could have been either the best idea since
information. This keeps women up to date with all sliced bread or a total failure. I’m delighted the
the news from the area, the town, neighbouring gamble paid off. It’s a commercial success and
countries and overseas. there’s lots of spin-off for the development market.’
‘We now have women who preside over The radios can play a vital role in spreading
meetings in the villages, in the local area and even emergency relief information, distance learning,
in the towns. They have all been democratically refugee assistance and health advice. (And people
elected by village groups and other development can listen to Oasis at the oasis.)
structures. Trevor Baylis: ‘You put the seed in, but it takes
‘Development projects have helped women someone to fertilise and water it – otherwise the
greatly in their work, through meetings and by seedling dies. But the ‘eureka’ part – my part – is
helping them to visit different areas and exchange only the start. Without the significant part played
ideas about different social structures.’ by DFID in putting that start-up money together, it
Fatimata Sawadogo, elder, Ouahigouya, Burkino wouldn’t have happened.’
Faso. From: At the Desert’s Edge Around 1500 Baygen radios are now made each
Lenin put some of his success down to radio. day by disabled workers in a plant outside Cape
Another revolutionary approach owes its origins to Town, South Africa. You can buy one yourself –
cleverly, they cost more here so they’ll cost less there. distances to fetch water.’
Alternatively, you can pledge a set through a charity. Mark Chinyimba, Area Manager, Stewarts & Lloyds,
(see the granary for details). Bulawayo
Some people in poorer countries (and some in
wind water richer ones, too) think ‘first world’ technology is
Helping Nature help humans help Nature is a better than home-grown.
central idea of ‘green’ technology. A good workman it’s quite a grace ful -looking m ach ine. but because
doesn’t blame his tools – if necessary, he gets new of local distrust of zimbabwean-made equ ipment,
ones. we spice up our campaign by saying this is an
Intermediate Technology Power work with english-design ed mach ine.
people worldwide on getting the right tool for the Roy Ndebele, Engineering Sales Manager, Stewarts & Lloyds
job. DFID funds them to run an exciting project
using wind-power to pump water. The result is the businessman, the buddhist
cleaner water – because the boreholes are deeper. & the morris minor
The project helps factories in India, Pakistan, A partnership between Dhanapal Samarasekara, a
Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe – even Mongolia – Sri Lankan Buddhist tea-planter, and Charles Ware’s
adapt British technology to local conditions. So far, Morris Minor Centre in Bath, tells a similar story.
the pumps have been enormous things, suitable for Charles Ware:
big organisations. But the latest prototype is small ‘The Morris Minor is a durable car which shows
enough to be bought by rural communities. that old resources can be re-used. Why waste
The demand for sma ller wind-pumps is li kely to things? I’m not that interested in preserving things
be strong – leading to export possibilities. per se, I’m only interested in finding new uses for
‘You go to most places and people are having things that have proved themselves, and a Morris
difficulties getting water. People are going into river Minor has this incredible reliability.
beds and digging. And the water is not clean. The ‘A lot of modern cars, if you look under the
womenfolk really dread the idea of walking long bonnet, they’re like spaghetti junction. If you dare
erosive power of the ocean – but they’re under Village Education Committees involved in both
threat, from fishing and tourism. In the Maldives, a designing and constructing their new schools.
further problem is people using coral to build with. By using local m at e ri al s, there are serious
DFID supported a team from the University of financial and environmental savings. The scheme
Newcastle-upon-Tyne who set out to see what could also trains local villagers in new techniques with
be done. Biologists and engineers got together to less environmental impact. Techniques that will
look at the situation. Dredging and coral-mining endure long after the school is built – and be
had stopped the polyps. They figured out ingenious handed down from generation to generation. The
ways to encourage the polyps back into action. Indian government, with DFID support, is extending
They ‘mimicked’ coral foundations with specially this approach to other states.
constructed blocks (lumps of concrete, basically). The schools – many influenced by local styles of
The results were rapid, with large numbers of temples – are beautiful and functional. The locals
polyps ‘recruited’ by the blocks. think so, too. In Gandipet, the project manager
The researchers thought their work would take overheard this exchange between two children:
ten years – it took five. In five years time, DFID hope ‘broth er, what is this bu ilding? is this a house?’
to report more good news for polyps. ‘th ey say it is a school for us .’
‘can’t beli eve it! it l ook s too good! m ust be
‘can’t believe it!’ something el se!’
‘Buildings reflect what we are. Classrooms tend to
be designed around a series of dull repetitious
lines…They should be designed to be interesting to
children, interesting to look at, to sit and work in.’
Romi Khosla, Lead Consultant Architect, GrupIndia
& ISM, New Delhi
Vidyalayam – a.k.a. the Andhra Pradesh Primary
Education Project– started 6 years ago. It gets
It isn’t necessary to
imagine the world
ending in fire or ice
– there are two
one is paperwork,
and the other is
Reading isn't an
police officers. We try
to keep the paper work
down to a minimum.
Joe Orton, Loot
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION’S NOW GONE GLOBAL. CERTAIN FACTORS
APPEAR TO HELP POORER CO UN TRIES ENTER THE GAME. THESE
INCLUDE EXPANDING MARKETS, A FAIRLY STABLE POLITICAL SYSTEM AND
SOUND MONEY. INEVITABLY, THEN, GOVERNMENTS GET INVOLVED.
HOW DO THEY DO THAT? IT’S COMPLEX. MILLIONS OF CAREFULLY
CHOSEN WORDS ON PAPER IS PART OF THE PROCESS. PEOPLE TALKING,
NEGOTIATING AND REACHING AGREEMENT (OR NOT) IS IMPORTANT,
IT AIN’T GLAMOROUS, BUT IT’S HOW IT’S DONE. (THERE ARE TOO MANY
OF US TO AGREE OVER DINNER.)
‘money, money, money’ exchanged and bartered the surplus from their
Abba’s pop song, about how funny a rich man’s harvest.
world is, helped make the group rich. But what of In a global economy, the pressure is to compete
the poor man’s world? and increase income. Giving money to the poor (or
‘People have a greater spirit of free enterprise, goods, or services) is only ever a short-term solution.
individualism and materialism. This has eroded the In the long-term, people’s pride, dignity and self-
past strong community spirit. I remember when the respect requires that they develop through their
welfare of the individual was everyone’s concern. own efforts. Wherever they are.
This changed with the colonial’s introduction of A lot of development aid is now aimed at
money. increasing people’s income. DFID helps by
‘People now like to buy animals because they are supporting good government, encouraging fairer
a good investment. We raise them, sell many at a trade and helping reschedule or write-off debt.
profit, then use the money to pay for our basic (Many poor countries have large debts. They often
needs, such as food, clothes and marriage or date back to when organisations like the World
baptism ceremonies. Bank lent money for large projects – at rates more
‘Once, nobody claimed the land as their own. appropriate to private companies in the first world.)
Land was a natural phenomenon, a gift God gave to
all living beings. Land used to be considered an on your agenda
almost sacred family asset; today, fields can be sold In the end it’s quite simple – and profound. As we
as if they were just another item of merchandise. reap today’s harvest, we need to ensure tomorrow’s
‘Land is only sold by men. I don’t know why crop. Or, to use long wo rd s, ‘sustainable
women are not allowed to sell land, as they need development’.
money just as much.’ In the West, progress has been made. Pollution
Koure, a (male) village elder from Takieta, Niger has been cut and people are more aware of their
From: At The Desert’s Edge delicate relationship with Nature. But there’s more
The world has changed since villagers like Koure to be done. Elsewhere, in the poorer countries, the
How to be green? Here’s the answer.
Consume less. Share more. Enjoy life.
Penny Kemp & Derek Wall, A Green Manifesto for the 1990s
scale of the problems is enormous. And richer and friends think this sounds like a jolly – Nairobi
countries must provide help. for a week. Here’s what the jolly boils down to.
It’s up to us, though. Governments support Fly out. Early breakfast meeting to plan the day.
overseas development and the environment on our A three-hour negotiating session, then another,
behalf. Many already take part in local affairs then another. Back for a working dinner (or a
through Local Agenda 21 projects – a direct link with reception you really don’t have time for, but have to
the Earth Summit, where Agenda 21 was drawn up. attend). Then a late night review session. Same
All part of living in an ever more talkative world. again the next day. Six or seven days a week.
With the United Nations, there’s the language
‘someone has to do it’ thing, too. Six official languages: Arabic, Chinese,
A ‘talkative world’ is one way of putting it. Take the English, French, Spanish and Russian.
Earth Summit, and just one of the conventions Then there’s the other language thing – groups
signed there: the biological diversity convention. can be informal (no official record kept), informal
How was the convention put together? With informal (one language only) and even informal
difficulty. Here’s a (very) simple version of what it’s informal informal (small groups).
like to work on international negotiations for DFID. And there’s the infamous square brackets. As
It’s certain that you’ve got a meeting in the hundreds of delegates gather from around the
pipeline to prepare for. Perhaps it’s a Governing globe, not everything is easily agreed. So [some] [a
Council of the United Nations Environment majority of] [all] ideas are [tabled] [considered]
Programme, meeting in Nairobi. Or a Preparatory [negotiated] [to be agreed] in the [draft] [working]
Committee, or a Meeting of the ad hoc Group [proposed] [agreed] documents.
of Technical and Legal Experts. Or an it’s qu ite stimulating wh en you’re negotiating t o
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee. Or all get rid of these square bracket s.
of them. A total of 17 international meetings in the Dr Ian Haines, Chief Natural Resources Research Adviser, DFID
run up to the Earth Summit. One meeting even saw an informal attempt
So you go home to pack your bags. Your family to define different sorts of square brackets: