Edward Carr

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Why food security and conflict may not be linked | 

Food prices go up and people revolt, right? Maybe not.

Conflict does lead to food insecurity. That makes sense because broken markets means it is harder and more expensive to get food. But what about whether high prices cause conflict. Do people protest and conflict follows because food is too expensive?

“It seems to me the food security linkage suffers from the same problem that an awful lot of the environment and conflict literature suffers from: There are more negative cases than positive cases,” said Ed Carr of the University of South Carolina to the Wilson Center’s New Security Beat podcast. “In other words, you have a lot of cases where there is a [food] price spike and no violence or no conflict.”

When it comes to conflict, food security could contribute to problems as might other factors. Carr argues that a focus on food may be misplaced if it not a main cause.

“If it’s that far down the line, is this something that USAID or any other donor organization should be looking at, or should they be dealing with the first six problems?” asks Carr.

He does not say that food security is definitely not a leading contributor to conflict, rather he questions the available research that makes such claims.

Listen to the full conversation below:

Dambisa Moyo counter-attacks Bill Gates’ critique of her work as ‘evil’ | 

You will remember from yesterday, that Bill Gates is not a fan of Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo (see below video). Responding to a question about Moyo’s book Dead Aid, which criticizes Western aid interventions in Africa, Gates claimed the book is ‘promoting evil.’

Well, it turns out that Moyo is not happy with what Gates has to say about her book. Moyo issued a pithy response to what she described as a personal attack by Gates.

“To say that my book ‘promotes evil’ or to allude to my corrupt value system is both inappropriate and disrespectful,” writes Moyo in a blog post this morning.

Dr. Dambisa Moyo

The short blog post makes two points to refute the remarks made by Gates. First, Moyo says that the book serves as a debating point on aid. She says that both she and Gates agree on the goal to improve the livlihoods of Africans in a sustainable way. Her goal was to raise concerns about the limitations of aid.

The second point made by Moyo addresses Gates’ claim that she does not know much about aid. Moyo is quick to point out her experience in the classroom, a PhD, and out, World Bank Consultant. She concludes that her experience being raised in Zambia provides her with a unique first-hand insight into poverty in Africa and the impacts of aid. It is the very same selling point that Moyo used in promoting her book.

“To cast aside the arguments I raised in Dead Aid at a time when we have witnessed the transformative economic success of countries like China, Brazil and India, belittles my experiences, and those of hundreds of millions of Africans, and others around the world who suffer the consequences of the aid system every day,” says Moyo.

Gates is not alone in claiming Moyo’s analysis is seriously flawed. 

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