excerpted from the book
The Globalization of Poverty and
the New World Order
by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, 2003, paperback
[first edition 1997]
Somalia: the Real Causes of Famine
The IMF Intervention in the Early 1980s
Somalia was a pastoral economy based on
"exchange" between nomadic herdsmen and small agriculturalists.
Nomadic pastoralists accounted for 50 percent of the population.
In the 1970s, resettlement programs led to the development of
a sizeable sector of commercial pastoralism. Livestock contributed
to 80 percent of export earnings until 1983. Despite recurrent
droughts, Somalia remained virtually self-sufficient in food until
The IMF-World Bank intervention in the
early 1980s contributed to exacerbating the crisis of Somali agriculture.
The economic reforms undermined the fragile exchange relationship
between the "nomadic economy" and the "sedentary
economy" - i.e. between pastoralists and small farmers characterized
by money transactions as well as traditional barter. A very tight
austerity program was imposed on the government largely to release
the funds required to service Somalia's debt with the Paris Club.
In fact, a large share of the external debt was held by the Washington-based
financial institutions.' According to an ILO mission report:
[T]he Fund alone among Somalia's major
recipients of debt service payments, refuses to reschedule. (...)
De facto it is helping to finance an adjustment program, one of
whose major goals is to repay the IMF itself.
Towards the Destruction of Food Agriculture
The structural adjustment program reinforced
Somalia's dependency on imported grain. From the mid-1970s to
the mid-1980s, food aid increased fifteen-fold, at the rate of
31 percent per annum.' Combined with increased commercial imports,
this influx of cheap surplus wheat and rice sold in the domestic
market led to the displacement of local producers, as well as
to a major shift in food consumption patterns to the detriment
of traditional crops (maize and sorghum). The devaluation of the
Somali shilling, imposed by the IMF in June 1981, was followed
by periodic devaluations, leading to hikes in the prices of fuel,
fertilizer and farm inputs. The impact on agricultural producers
was immediate particularly in rain-fed agriculture, as well as
in the areas of irrigated farming. Urban purchasing power declined
dramatically, government extension programs were curtailed, infrastructure
collapsed, the deregulation of the grain market and the influx
of "food aid" led to the impoverishment of farming communities.'
Also, during this period, much of the
best agricultural land was appropriated by bureaucrats, army officers
and merchants with connections to the government.' Rather than
promoting food production for the domestic market, the donors
were encouraging the development of so-called "high value-added"
fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and cotton for export on the best
Collapse of the Livestock Economy
As of the early 1980s, prices for imported
livestock drugs increased as a result of the depreciation of the
currency. The World Bank encouraged the exaction of user fees
for veterinarian services to the nomadic herdsmen, including the
vaccination of animals. A private market for veterinary drugs
was promoted. The functions performed by the Ministry of Livestock
were phased out, with the Veterinary Laboratory Services of the
ministry to be fully financed on a cost-recovery basis. According
to the World Bank:
Veterinarian services are essential for
livestock development in all areas, and they can be provided mainly
by the private sector. (... Since few private veterinarians will
choose to practice in the remote pastoral areas, improved livestock
care will also depend on "para vets" paid from drug
The privatization of animal health was
combined with the absence of emergency animal feed during periods
of drought, the commercialization
of water and the neglect of water and
rangeland conservation. The results were predictable: the herds
were decimated and so were the pastoralists, who represent 50
percent of the country's population. The "hidden objective"
of this program was to eliminate the nomadic herdsmen involved
in the traditional exchange economy. According to the World Bank,
"adjustments" in the size of the herds are, in any event,
beneficial because nomadic pastoralists in sub-Saharan Africa
are narrowly viewed as a cause of environmental degradation."
The collapse in veterinarian services
also indirectly served the interests of the rich countries: in
1984, Somalian cattle exports to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries
plummeted as Saudi beef imports were redirected to suppliers from
Australia and the European Community. The ban on Somali livestock
imposed by Saudi Arabia was not, however, removed once the rinderpest
disease epidemic had been eliminated.
Destroying the State
The restructuring of government expenditure
under the supervision of the Bretton Woods institutions also played
a crucial role in destroying food agriculture. Agricultural infrastructure
collapsed and recurrent expenditure in agriculture declined by
about 85 percent in relation to the mid-1970s." The Somali
government was prevented by the IMF from mobilizing domestic resources.
Tight targets for the budget deficit were set. Moreover, the donors
increasingly provided "aid", not in the form of imports
of capital and equipment, but in the form of "food aid".
The latter would in turn be sold by the government on the local
market and the proceeds of these sales (i.e. the so-called "counterpart
funds") would be used to cover the domestic costs of development
projects. As of the early 1980s, "the sale of food aid"
became the principal source of revenue for the state, thereby
enabling donors to take control of the entire budgetary process."
The economic reforms were marked by the
disintegration of health and educational programmes. '3 By 1989,
expenditure on health had declined by 78 percent in relation to
its 1975 level. According to World Bank figures, the level of
recurrent expenditure on education in 1989 was about US$ 4 Per
annum per primary school student down from about $ 82 in 1982.
From 1981 to 1989, school enrolment declined by 41 percent (despite
a sizeable increase in the population of school age), textbooks
and school materials disappeared from the class-rooms, school
buildings deteriorated and nearly a quarter of the primary schools
closed down. Teachers' salaries declined to abysmally low levels.
The IMF-World Bank program has led the
Somali economy into a vicious circle: the decimation of the herds
pushed the nomadic pastoralists into starvation which in turn
backlashes on grain producers who sold or bartered their grain
for cattle. The entire social fabric of the pastoralist economy
was undone. The collapse in foreign exchange earnings from declining
cattle exports and remittances (from Somali workers in the Gulf
countries) backlashed on the balance of payments and the state's
public finances leading to the breakdown of the government's economic
and social programs.
Small farmers were displaced as a result
of the dumping of subsidized US grain on the domestic market combined
with the hike in the price of farm inputs. The impoverishment
of the urban population also led to a contraction of food consumption.
In turn, state support in the irrigated areas was frozen and production
in the state farms declined. The latter were slated to be closed
down or privatized under World Bank supervision.
According to World Bank estimates, real
public-sector wages in 1989 had declined by 90 percent in relation
to the mid-1970s. Average wages in the public sector had fallen
to US$ 3 a month, leading to the inevitable disintegration of
the civil administration." A program to rehabilitate civil
service wages was proposed by the World Bank (in the context of
a reform of the civil service), but this objective was to be achieved
within the same budgetary envelope by dismissing some 40 percent
of public-sector employees and eliminating salary supplements."
Under this plan, the civil service would have been reduced to
a mere 25,000 employees by 1995 (in a country of six million people).
Several donors indicated keen interest in funding the cost associated
with the retrenchment of civil servants."
In the face of impending disaster, no
attempt was made by the international donor community to rehabilitate
the country's economic and social infrastructure, to restore levels
of purchasing power and to rebuild the civil service: the macro-economic
adjustment measures proposed by the creditors in the year prior
to the collapse of the government of General Siyad Barre in January
1991 (at the height of the civil war) called for a further tightening
over public spending, the restructuring of the Central Bank, the
liberalization of credit (which virtually thwarted the private
sector) and the liquidation and divestiture of most of the state
In 1989, debt-servicing obligations represented
194.6 percent of export earnings. The IMF's loan was cancelled
because of Somalia's outstanding arrears. The World Bank had approved
a structural adjustment loan for US$ 70 million in June 1989 which
was frozen a few months later due to Somalia's poor macro-economic
performance. '7 Arrears with creditors had to be settled before
the granting of new loans and the negotiation of debt rescheduling.
Somalia was tangled in the straightjacket of debt servicing and
Famine Formation in sub-Saharan Africa:
The Lessons of Somalia
Somalia's experience shows how a country
can be devastated by the simultaneous application of food "aid"
and macro-economic policy. There are many Somalias in the developing
world and the economic reform package implemented in Somalia is
similar to that applied in more than 100 developing countries.
But there is another significant dimension: Somalia is a pastoralist
economy, and throughout Africa both nomadic and commercial livestock
are being destroyed by the IMF-World Bank program in much the
same way as in Somalia. In this context, subsidized beef and dairy
products imported (duty free) from the European Union have led
to the demise of Africa's pastoral economy. European beef imports
to West Africa have increased seven-fold since 1984: "the
low quality EC beef sells at half the price of locally produced
meat. Sahelian farmers are finding that no-one is prepared to
buy their herds"."
The experience of Somalia shows that famine
in the late 20th century is not a consequence of a shortage of
food. On the contrary, famines are spurred on as a result of a
global oversupply of grain staples. Since the 1980s, grain markets
have been deregulated under the supervision of the World Bank
and US grain surpluses are used systematically as in the case
of Somalia to destroy the peasantry and destabilize national food
agriculture. The latter becomes, under these circumstances, far
more vulnerable to the vagaries of drought and environmental degradation.
Throughout the continent, the pattern
of "sectoral adjustment" in agriculture under the custody
of the Bretton Woods institutions has been unequivocally towards
the destruction of food security. Dependency vis-à-vis
the world market has been reinforced, "food aid" to
sub-Saharan Africa increased by more than seven times since 1974
and commercial grain imports more than doubled. Grain imports
for sub-Saharan Africa expanded from 3.72 million tons in 1974
to 8.47 million tons in 1993. Food aid increased from 910,000
tons in 1974 to 6.64 million tons in l993.
"Food aid", however, was no
longer earmarked for the drought-stricken countries of the Sahelian
belt; it was also channeled into countries which were, until recently,
more or less self-sufficient in food. ibabwe (once considered
the bread basket of Southern Africa) was severely affected by
the famine and drought which swept Southern Africa in 1992. The
country experienced a drop of 90 percent in its maize crop, located
largely in less productive lands." Yet, ironically, at the
height of the drought, tobacco for export (supported by modem
irrigation, credit, research, etc.) registered a bumper harvest.
While "the famine forces the population to eat termites",
much of the export earnings from Zimbabwe's tobacco harvest were
used to service the external debt.
Under the structural adjustment program,
farmers have increasingly abandoned traditional food crops; in
Malawi, which was once a net food exporter, maize production declined
by 40 percent in 1992 while tobacco output doubled between 1986
and 1993. One hundred and fifty thousand hectares of the best
land was allocated to tobacco .2' Throughout the 1980s, severe
austerity measures were imposed on African governments and expenditures
on rural development drastically curtailed, leading to the collapse
of agricultural infrastructure. Under the World Bank program,
water was to become a commodity to be sold on a cost-recovery
basis to impoverished farmers. Due to lack of funds, the state
was obliged to withdraw from the management and conservation of
water resources. Water points and boreholes dried up due to lack
of maintenance, or were privatized by local merchants and rich
farmers. In the semi-arid regions, this commercialization of water
and irrigation leads to the collapse of food security and famine.
While "external" climatic variables
play a role in triggering off a famine and heightening the social
impact of drought, famines in the age of globalization are man-made.
They are not the consequence of a scarcity of food but of a structure
of global oversupply which undermines food security and destroys
national food agriculture. Tightly regulated and controlled by
international agri-business, this oversupply is ultimately conducive
to the stagnation of both production and consumption of essential
food staples and the impoverishment of farmers throughout the
world. Moreover, in the era of globalization, the IMF-World Bank
structural adjustment program bears a direct relationship to the
process of famine formation because it systematically undermines
all categories of economic activity, whether urban or rural, which
do not directly serve the interests of the global market system.
Economic Genocide in Rwanda
The IMF and the World Bank set the Stage
The Rwandan crisis, which led up to the
1994 ethnic massacres, has been presented by the Western media
as a profuse narrative of human suffering, while the underlying
social and economic causes have been carefully ignored by reporters.
As in other "countries in transition", ethnic strife
and the outbreak of civil war are increasingly depicted as something
which is almost "inevitable" and "innate to these
societies", constituting "a painful stage in their evolution
from a one-party state towards democracy and the free market."
The brutality of the massacres shocked the world community, but
what the international media failed to mention was that the civil
war was preceded by the flare-up of a deep-seated economic crisis.
It was the restructuring of the agricultural system under IMF-World
Bank supervision which precipitated the population into abject
poverty and destitution.
This deterioration of the economic environment,
which immediately followed the collapse of the international coffee
market and the imposition of sweeping macro-economic reforms by
the Bretton Woods institutions exacerbated simmering ethnic tensions
and accelerated the process of political collapse. In 1987, the
system of quotas established under the International Coffee Agreement
(ICA) started to fall apart, world prices plummeted and the Fonds
d 'égalisation (the state coffee-stabilization fund), which
purchased coffee from Rwandan farmers at a fixed price, started
to accumulate a sizeable debt. A lethal blow to Rwanda's economy
came in June 1989 when the ICA reached a deadlock as a result
of political pressures from Washington on behalf of the large
US coffee traders. At the conclusion of a historic meeting of
producers held in Florida, coffee prices plunged in a matter of
months by more than 50 percent.' For Rwanda and several other
African countries, the drop in prices wreaked havoc. The farmgate
price had fallen to less than 5 percent of the US retail price
of coffee. Resulting from the trade of coffee at depressed international
prices, a tremendous amount of wealth was being appropriated in
the rich countries to the detriment of the direct producers. (See
The Legacy of Colonialism
What is the responsibility of the West
in this tragedy? First it is important to stress that the conflict
between the Hutu and Tutsi was largely the product of the colonial
system, many features of which still prevail today. From the late
19th century, the early German colonial occupation had used the
mwami (King) of the nyiginya (monarchy) installed at Nyanza as
a means of establishing its military posts. However, it was largely
the administrative reforms initiated in 1926 by the Belgians which
were decisive in shaping socio-ethnic relations. The Belgians
used dynastic conflicts explicitly to reinforce their territorial
control. The traditional chiefs in each hill (colline) were used
by the colonial administration to requisition forced labor. Routine
beatings and corporal punishment were administered on behalf of
the colonial masters by the traditional chiefs. The latter were
under the direct supervision of a Belgian colonial administrator
responsible for a particular portion of territory. A climate of
fear and distrust was installed, communal solidarity broke down
and traditional client relations were transformed to serve the
interests of the colonizer. The objective was to fuel inter-ethnic
rivalries as a means of achieving political control, as well as
preventing the development of solidarity between the two ethnic
groups which would inevitably have been directed against the colonial
regime. The Tutsi dynastic aristocracy was also made responsible
for the collection of taxes and the administration of justice.
The communal economy was undermined and the peasantry forced to
shift out of food agriculture into cash crops for export. Communal
lands were transformed into individual plots geared solely towards
cash-crop cultivation (the so-called cultures obligatoires).
Colonial historiographers were entrusted
with the task of "transcribing" as well as distorting
Rwanda-Urundi's oral history. The historical record was falsified:
the mwami monarchy was identified exclusively with the Tutsi aristocratic
dynasty. The Hutus were represented as a dominated caste.' Identity
cards were issued indicating "ethnic origin". The latter
had been defined arbitrarily on the ownership of heads of cattle,
with the Tutsi as "cattle owners" and the Hutus as "farmers".
From imposed socio-ethnic divisions, the
Belgian colonialists developed a new social class, the so-called
"nègres évolués" recruited from
among the Tutsi aristocracy, and the school system was put in
place to educate the sons of the chiefs and to provide the African
personnel required by the Belgians. In turn, the various apostolic
missions and vicariates received under Belgian colonial rule an
almost political mandate. The clergy, for example, was often used
to oblige the peasants to integrate the cash crop economy. These
socio-ethnic divisions - which have unfolded since the 1920s -
have left a profound mark on contemporary Rwandan society.
Since independence in 1962, relations
with the former colonial powers and donors became exceedingly
more complex. Inherited from the Belgian colonial period, however,
the same objective of pushing one ethnic group against the other
("divide and rule") largely prevailed in the various
"military", "human rights" and "macro-economic"
interventions undertaken from the outset of the civil war in 1990.
The Rwandan crisis became encapsulated in a continuous agenda
of donor roundtables (held in Paris), cease-fire agreements and
peace talks. These various initiatives were closely monitored
and coordinated by the donor community in a tangled circuit of
"conditionalities" (and cross-conditionalities). The
release of multilateral and bilateral loans since the outbreak
of the civil war was made conditional upon implementing a process
of so-called "democratization" under the tight surveillance
of the donor community. In turn, Western aid in support of multiparty
democracy was made conditional (in an almost symbiotic relationship)
upon the government reaching an agreement with the IMF, and so
on. These attempts were all the more illusive because since the
collapse of the coffee market in 1989, actual political power
in Rwanda rested largely, in any event, in the hands of the donors.
A communiqué of the US State Department issued in early
1993 illustrates this situation vividly: the continuation of US
bilateral aid was made conditional on good behavior in policy
reform as well as progress in the pursuit of democracy.
"Democratization" - based on
an abstract model of inter-ethnic solidarity envisaged by the
Arusha peace agreement signed in August 1993 was an impossibility
from the outset and the donors knew it. The brutal impoverishment
of the population which resulted both from the war and the IMF
reforms precluded a genuine process of democratization. The objective
was to meet the conditions of "good governance" (a new
term in the donors' glossary) and oversee the installation of
a bogus multiparty coalition government under the trusteeship
of Rwanda's external creditors.
In fact, multipartyism - as narrowly conceived
by the donors contributed to fuelling the various political factions
of the regime. Not surprisingly, as soon as the peace negotiations
entered a stalemate, the World Bank announced that it was interrupting
the disbursements under its loan agreement.'
The Economy since independence
The evolution of the post-colonial economic
system played a decisive role in the development of the Rwandan
crisis. While progress since independence in diversifying the
national economy was indeed recorded, the colonial-style export
economy based on coffee (les cultures obligatoires) established
under the Belgian administration was largely maintained, providing
Rwanda with more than 80 percent of its foreign exchange earnings.
A rentier class with interests in coffee trade and with close
ties to the seat of political power had developed. Levels of poverty
remained high, yet during the 1970s and the first part of the
1980s, economic and social progress was nonetheless realized:
real GDP growth was of the order of 4.9 percent per annum (1965-89),
school enrolment increased markedly and recorded inflation was
among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa - less than 4 percent per
While the Rwandan rural economy remained
fragile, marked by acute demographic pressures (3.2 percent per
annum population growth), land fragmentation and soil erosion,
local-level food self-sufficiency had, to some extent, been achieved
alongside the development of the export economy. Coffee was cultivated
by approximately 70 percent of rural households, yet it constituted
only a fraction of total monetary income. A variety of other commercial
activities had been developed including the sale of traditional
food staples and banana beer in regional and urban markets.' Until
the late 1980s, imports of cereals, including food aid, were minimal
compared to the patterns observed in other countries of the region.
The food situation started to deteriorate in the early 1980s with
a marked decline in the per capita availability of food. In overt
contradiction to the usual trade reforms adopted under the auspices
of the World Bank, protection to local producers had been provided
up to that time through restrictions on the import of food commodities.'
These were lifted with the adoption of the 1990 structural adjustment
The Fragility of the State
The economic foundations of the post-independence
Rwandan state remained extremely fragile. A large share of government
revenues depended on coffee, with the risk that a collapse in
commodity prices would precipitate a crisis in the state's public
finances. The rural economy was the main source of funding for
the state. As the debt crisis unfolded, a larger share of coffee
and tea earnings had been earmarked for debt servicing, putting
further pressure on small-scale farmers.
Export earnings declined by 50 percent
between 1987 and 1991. The demise of state institutions unfolded
thereafter. When coffee prices plummeted, famines erupted throughout
the Rwandan countryside. According to World Bank data, the growth
of GDP per capita declined from 0.4 percent in 1981-86 to -5.5
percent in the period immediately following the slump of the coffee
market (1987-9 1).
The IMF-World Bank Intervention
A World Bank mission traveled to Rwanda
in November 1988 to review Rwanda's public expenditure program.
A series of recommendations had been established with a view to
putting Rwanda back on the track of sustained economic growth.
The World Bank mission presented the country's policy options
to the government, as consisting of two "scenarios".
Scenario I entitled "No Strategy Change" contemplated
the option of remaining with the "old system of state planning",
whereas Scenario II labeled "With Strategy Change" was
that of macro-economic reform and "transition to the free
market". After careful economic "simulations" of
likely policy outcomes, the World Bank concluded, with some grain
of optimism, that if Rwanda adopted Scenario II, levels of consumption
would increase markedly over 1989-93 alongside a recovery of investment
and an improved balance of trade. The "simulations"
also pointed to added export performance and substantially lower
levels of external indebtedness.' These outcomes depended on the
speedy implementation of the usual recipe of trade liberalization
and currency devaluation, alongside the lifting of all subsidies
to agriculture, the phasing out of the Fonds d'egaliSation (the
State coffee Stabilization Fund), the privatization of state enterprises
and the dismissal of civil servants.
The "With Strategy Change" (Scenario
II) was adopted. The government had no choice. A 50 percent devaluation
of the Rwandan franc was carried out in November 1990 barely six
weeks after the incursion from Uganda of the rebel army of the
Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
The devaluation was intended to boost
coffee exports. It was presented to public opinion as a means
of rehabilitating a war-ravaged economy. Not surprisingly, exactly
the opposite results were achieved, exacerbating the plight of
the civil war. From a situation of relative price stability, the
plunge of the Rwandan franc contributed to triggering inflation
and the collapse of real earnings. A few days after the devaluation,
sizeable increases in the prices of fuel and consumer essentials
were announced. The consumer price index increased from 1.0 percent
in 1989 to 19.2 percent in 1991. The balance of payments situation
deteriorated dramatically and the outstanding external debt, which
had already doubled since 1985, increased by 34 percent between
1989 and 1992. The state administrative apparatus was in disarray,
state enterprises were pushed into bankruptcy and public services
collapsed." Health and education disintegrated under the
brunt of the IMF-imposed austerity measures: despite the establishment
of "a social safety net" (earmarked by the donors for
programs in the social sectors), the incidence of severe child
malnutrition increased dramatically; the number of recorded cases
of malaria increased by 21 percent in the year following the adoption
of the IMF program, largely as a result of the absence of anti-malarial
drugs in the public health centers; and the imposition of school
fees at the primary-school level led to a massive decline in school
The economic crisis reached its climax
in 1992 when Rwandan farmers, in desperation, uprooted some 300,000
coffee trees." Despite soaring domestic prices, the government
had frozen the farmgate price of coffee at its 1989 level (RwF
125/kg), under the terms of its agreement with the Bretton Woods
institutions. The government was not allowed (under the World
Bank loan) to transfer state resources to the Fonds d'égalisation.
It should also be mentioned that a significant profit was appropriated
by local coffee traders and intermediaries serving to put further
pressure on the peasantry.
In June 1992, a second devaluation was
ordered by the IMF, leading at the height of the civil war - to
a further escalation of the prices of fuel and consumer essentials.
Coffee production tumbled by another 25 percent in a single year."
Because of over-cropping of coffee trees, there was increasingly
less land available to produce food, but the peasantry was not
able easily to switch back into food crops. The meager cash income
derived from coffee had been erased, yet there was nothing to
fall back on. Not only were cash revenues from coffee insufficient
to buy food, the
prices of farm inputs had soared and money
earnings from coffee were grossly insufficient. The crisis of
the coffee economy backlashed on the production of traditional
food staples leading to a substantial drop in the production of
cassava, beans and sorghum. The system of savings and loan cooperatives,
which provided credit to small farmers, had also disintegrated.
Moreover, with the liberalization of trade and the deregulation
of grain markets - as recommended by the Bretton Woods institutions
(heavily-subsidized) cheap food imports and food aid from the
rich countries were entering Rwanda with the effect of destabilizing
Under "the free market" system
imposed on Rwanda, neither cash crops nor food crops were economically
viable. The entire agricultural system was pushed into crisis.
The state administrative apparatus was in disarray due not only
to the civil war, but also as a result of the austerity measures
and sinking civil service salaries - a situation which contributed
inevitably to exacerbating the climate of generalized insecurity
which had unfolded in 1992.
The seriousness of the agricultural situation
had been amply documented by the FAQ which had warned of the existence
of widespread famine in the southern provinces." A report
released in early 1994 also pointed to the total collapse of coffee
production as a result of both the war and the failure of the
state marketing system which was being phased out with the support
of the World Bank. Rwandex, the mixed enterprise responsible for
the processing and export of coffee, had become largely inoperative.
The decision to devalue (and "the
IMF stamp of approval") had already been reached on 17 September
1990, prior to the outbreak of hostilities, in high-level meetings
held in Washington between the IMF and a mission headed by Rwandan
Minister of Finance Mr. Ntigurirwa. The "green light"
had been granted: as of early October, at the very moment when
the fighting started, millions of dollars of so-called "balance
of payments aid" (from multilateral and bilateral sources)
came pouring into the coffers of the Central Bank. These funds,
administered by the Central Bank, had been earmarked (by the donors)
for commodity imports, yet it appears likely that a sizeable portion
of these "quick disbursing loans" had been diverted
by the regime (and its various political factions) towards the
acquisition of military hardware (from South Africa, Egypt and
Eastern Europe)." The purchases of Kalashnikov guns, heavy
artillery and mortar were undertaken in addition to the bilateral
military aid package provided by France which included, inter
alia, Milan and Apila missiles (not to mention a Mystère
Falcon jet for President Habyarimana's personal Use).'6 Moreover,
since October 1990, the armed forces had expanded virtually overnight
from 5,000 to 40,000 men requiring inevitably (under conditions
of budgetary austerity) a sizeable influx of outside money. The
new recruits were largely enlisted from the ranks of the urban
unemployed of which the numbers had dramatically swelled since
the collapse of the coffee market in 1989. Thousands of delinquent
and idle youths from a drifting population were also drafted into
the civilian militia responsible for the massacres. And part of
the arms' purchases enabled the armed forces to organize and equip
In all, from the outset of the hostilities
(which coincided chronologically with the devaluation and the
initial "gush of fresh money" in October 1990), a total
envelope of some US$ 260 million had been approved for disbursal
(with sizeable bilateral contributions from France, Germany, Belgium,
the European Community and the US). While the new loans contributed
to releasing money for the payment of debt servicing as well as
equipping the armed forces, the evidence would suggest that a
large part of this donor assistance was neither used productively
nor was it channeled into providing relief in areas affected by
It is also worth noting that the World
Bank (through its soft-lending affiliate, the International Development
Association (IDA) had ordered, in 1992, the privatization of Rwanda's
state enterprise Electrogaz. The proceeds of the privatization
were to be channeled towards debt servicing. In a loan agreement,
co-financed with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Caisse
française de développement (CFD), the Rwandan authorities
were to receive in return (after meeting the "conditionalities")
the modest sum of US$ 39 million which could be spent freely on
commodity imports." The privatization carried out at the
height of the civil war also included dismissals of personnel
and an immediate hike in the price of electricity which further
contributed to paralyzing urban public services. A similar privatization
of Rwandatel, the state telecommunications company under the Ministry
of Transport and Communications, was implemented in September
The World Bank had carefully reviewed
Rwanda's public investment program. The fiches de projet having
been examined, the World Bank recommended scrapping more than
half the country's public investment projects. In agriculture,
the World Bank had also demanded a significant down-sizing of
state investment including the abandonment of the inland swamp
reclamation program which had been initiated by the government
in response to the severe shortages of
arable land (and which the World Bank considered "unprofitable").
In the social sectors, the World Bank proposed a so-called "priority
program" (under "the social safety net") predicated
on maximizing efficiency and "reducing the financial burden
of the government" through the exaction of user fees, lay-offs
of teachers and health workers and the partial privatization of
health and education.
The World Bank would no doubt contend
that things would have been much worse had Scenario II not been
adopted. This is the so-called "counterfactual argument".
(See Chapter 3) Such reasoning, however, sounds absurd particularly
in the case of Rwanda. No sensitivity or concern was expressed
as to the likely political and social repercussions of economic
shock therapy applied to a country on the brink of civil war.
The World Bank team consciously excluded the "non-economic
variables" from their "simulations"...
Installing a US Protectorate in Central
From the outset of the Rwandan civil war
in 1990, Washington's hidden agenda consisted in establishing
an American sphere of influence in a region historically dominated
by France and Belgium. America's design was to displace France
by supporting the Rwandan Patriotic Front and by arming and equipping
its military arm, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA).
From the mid-1980s, the Kampala government,
under President Yoweri Musaveni, had become Washington's African
showpiece of "democracy". Uganda had also become a launchpad
for US-sponsored guerilla movements into the Sudan, Rwanda and
the Congo. Major General Paul Kagame had been head of military
intelligence in the Ugandan Armed Forces; he had been trained
at the US Army Command and Staff College (CGSC) in Leavenworth,
Kansas which focuses on warfighting and military strategy. Kagame
returned from Leavenworth to lead the RPA, shortly after the 1990
Prior to the outbreak of the Rwandan civil
war, the RPA was part of the Ugandan Armed Forces. Shortly prior
to the October 1990 invasion of Rwanda, military labels were switched.
From one day to the next, large numbers of Ugandan soldiers joined
the ranks of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). Throughout the
civil war, the RPA was supplied from United People's Defense Forces
(UPDF) military bases inside Uganda. The Tutsi commissioned officers
in the Ugandan army took over positions in the RPA The October
1990 invasion by Ugandan forces was presented to public as a war
of liberation by a Tutsi-led guerilla army.
Financing both Sides in the Civil War
A process of financing military expenditure
from the external debt had occurred in Rwanda under the Habyarimana
government. In a cruel irony, both sides in the civil war were
financed by the same donor institutions with the World Bank acting
The Habyarimana regime had at its disposal
an arsenal of military equipment, including 83mm missile launchers,
French made Blindicide, Belgian and German made light weaponry,
and automatic weapons such as kalachnikovs made in Egypt, China
and South Africa [as well as] (... armored AML-60 and M3 armored
vehicles." While part of these purchases had been financed
by direct military aid from France, the influx of development
loans from the World Bank's soft lending affiliate the International
Development Association (IDA), the African Development Fund (AFD),
the European Development Fund (EDF) as well as from Germany, the
United States, Belgium and Canada had been diverted into funding
the military and Interhamwe militia.
A detailed investigation of government
files, accounts and correspondence conducted in Rwanda in 1996-97
by the author - together with Belgian economist Pierre Galand
- confirmed that many of the arms purchases had been negotiated
outside the framework of government to government military aid
agreements through various intermediaries and private arms dealers.
These transactions - recorded as bona fide government expenditures
- had, nonetheless, been included in the state budget which was
under the supervision of the World Bank. Large quantities of machetes
and other items used in the 1994 ethnic massacres - routinely
classified as "civilian commodities" - had been imported
through regular trading channels .14
According to the files of the National
Bank of Rwanda (NBR), some of these imports had been financed
in violation of agreements signed with the donors. According to
NBR records of import invoices, approximately one million machetes
had been imported through various channels including Radio Mille
Collines, an organization linked to the Interhamwe militia and
used to foment ethnic hatred."
The money had been earmarked by the donors
to support Rwanda's economic and social development. It was clearly
stipulated that funds could not be used to import: "military
expenditures on arms, ammunition and other military material "o26
In fact, the loan agreement with the World Bank's IDA was even
more stringent. The money could not be used to import civilian
commodities such as fuel, foodstuffs, medicine, clothing and footwear
"destined for military or paramilitary use ". The records
of the NBR, nonetheless, confirm that the Habyarimana government
used World Bank money to finance the import of machetes which
had been routinely classified as imports of "civilian commodities"."
An army of consultants and auditors had
been sent in by the World Bank to assess the Habyarimana government's
"policy performance" under the loan agreement."
The use of donor funds to import machetes and other material used
in the massacres of civilians did not show up in the independent
audit commissioned by the government and the World Bank under
the IDA loan agreement (IDA Credit Agreement. 2271 -RW).29 In
1993, the World Bank decided to suspend the disbursement of the
second installment of its IDA loan. There had been, according
to the World Bank mission, unfortunate "slip-ups" and
"delays" in policy implementation. The free market reforms
were no longer "on track"; the conditionalities including
the privatization of state assets had not been met. The fact that
the country was involved in a civil war was not even mentioned.
How the money was spent was never an issue."'
Whereas the World Bank had frozen the
second installment (tranche)
of the IDA loan, the money granted in
1991 had been deposited in a Special Account at the Banque Bruxelles
Lambert in Brussels. This account remained open and accessible
to the former regime (in exile), two months after the April 1994
In the wake of the civil war, the World
Bank sent a mission to Kigali with a view to drafting a so-called
loan "Completion Report"." This was a routine exercise,
largely focussing on macro-economic rather than political issues.
The report acknowledged that "the war effort prompted the
[former] government to increase spending substantially, well beyond
the fiscal targets agreed under the SAP." The misappropriation
of World Bank money was not mentioned. Instead, the Habyarimana
government was praised for having "made genuine major efforts
- especially in 1991 - to reduce domestic and external financial
imbalances, eliminate distortions hampering export growth and
diversification and introduce market based mechanisms for resource
allocation . The massacres of civilians were not mentioned; from
the point of view of the donors, "nothing had happened".
In fact, the World Bank completion report failed to even acknowledge
the existence of a civil war prior to April 1994.
In the Wake of the Civil War: Reinstating
the IMF's Deadly Economic Reforms
In 1995, barely a year after the 1994
ethnic massacres, Rwanda's external creditors entered into discussions
with the Tutsi-led RPF government regarding the debts of the former
regime which had been used to finance the massacres. The RPF decided
to fully recognize the legitimacy of the "odious debts"
of 1990-94. RPF strongman Vice-President Paul Kagame instructed
the Cabinet not to pursue the matter nor to approach the World
Bank. Under pressure from Washington, the RPF was not to enter
into any form of negotiations, let alone an informal dialogue
with the donors.
The legitimacy of the wartime debts was
never questioned. Instead, the creditors had carefully set up
procedures to ensure their prompt reimbursement. In 1998 at a
special donors' meeting in Stockholm, a Multilateral Trust Fund
of 55.2 million dollars was set up under the banner of postwar
reconstruction. In fact, none of this money was destined for Rwanda.
It had been earmarked to service Rwanda's "odious debts"
with the World Bank (i.e. IDA debt), the African Development Bank
and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
In other words, "fresh money"
- which Rwanda will eventually have to reimburse - was lent to
enable Rwanda to service the debts used to finance the massacres.
Old loans had been swapped for new debts under the banner of post-war
reconstruction." The "odious debts" had been whitewashed;
they had disappeared from the books. The creditor's responsibility
had been erased. Moreover, the scam was also conditional upon
the acceptance of a new wave of IMF-World Bank reforms.
Post War "Reconstruction and Reconciliation"
Bitter economic medicine was imposed under
the banner of "reconstruction and reconciliation". In
fact, the IMF post-conflict reform package was far more stringent
than that imposed at the outset of the civil war in 1990. While
wages and employment had fallen to abysmally low levels, the IMF
had demanded a freeze on civil service wages alongside a massive
retrenchment of teachers and health workers. The objective was
to "restore macro-economic stability". A downsizing
of the civil service was launched." Civil service wages were
not to exceed 4.5 percent of GDP, so-called "unqualified
civil servants" (mainly teachers) were to be removed from
the state payroll."
Meanwhile, the country's per capita income
had collapsed from $ 360 (prior to the war) to $ 140 in 1995.
State revenues had been tagged to service the external debt. Kigali's
Paris Club debts were rescheduled in exchange for "free market"
reforms. Remaining state assets were sold off to foreign capital
at bargain prices.
The Tutsi-led RPF government, rather than
demanding the cancellation of Rwanda's odious debts, had welcomed
the Bretton Woods institutions with open arms. They needed the
IMF "greenlight" to boost the development of the military.
Despite the austerity measures, defense
expenditures continued to grow. The 1990-94 pattern had been reinstated.
The development loans granted since 1995 were not used to finance
the country's economic and social development. Outside money had
again been diverted into financing a military buildup, this time
of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). And this build-up of the
RPA occurred in the period immediately preceding the outbreak
of civil war in former Zaire.
The civil war in Rwanda was a brutal struggle
for political power between the Hutu-led Habyarimana government
supported by France, and the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)
backed financially and militarily by Washington. Ethnic rivalries
were used deliberately in the pursuit of geopolitical objectives.
Both the CIA and French intelligence were involved.
In the words of former Cooperation Minister
Bernard Debre in the government of Prime Minister Henri Balladur:
What one forgets to say is that, if France
was on one side, the Americans were on the other, arming the Tutsis
who armed the Ugandans. I don't want to portray a showdown between
the French and the Anglo-Saxons, but the truth must be told."
In addition to military aid to the warring
factions, the influx of development loans played an important
role in "financing the conflict." In other words, both
the Ugandan and Rwanda external debts were diverted into supporting
the military and paramilitary. Uganda's external debt increased
by more than two billion dollars, - i.e. at a significantly faster
pace than that of Rwanda (an increase of approximately 250 million
dollars from 1990 to 1994). In retrospect, the RPA - financed
by US military aid and Uganda's external debt - was much better
equipped and trained than the Forces Armees du Rwanda (FAR) loyal
to President Habyarimana. From the outset, the RPA had a definite
military advantage over the FAR.
According to the testimony of Paul Mugabe,
a former member of the RPF High Command Unit, Major General Paul
Kagame had personally ordered the shooting down of President Habyarimana's
plane with a view to taking control of the country. He was fully
aware that the assassination of Habyarimana would unleash "a
genocide" against Tutsi civilians. R PA forces had been fully
deployed in Kigali at the time the ethnic massacres took place
and did not act to prevent it from happening:
The decision of Paul Kagame to shoot
Pres. Habyarimana's aircraft was the catalyst of an unprecedented
drama in Rwandan history, and Major-General Paul Kagame took that
decision with all awareness. Kagame's ambition caused the extermination
of all of our families: Tutsis, Hutus and Twas. We all lost. Kagame's
take-over took away the lives of a large number of Tutsis and
caused the unnecessary exodus of millions of Hutus, many of whom
were innocent under the hands of the genocide ringleaders. Some
naive Rwandans proclaimed Kagame as their savior, but time has
demonstrated that it was he who caused our suffering and misfortunes...
Can Kagame explain to the Rwandan people why he sent Claude Dusaidi
and Charles Muligande to New York and Washington to stop the UN
military intervention which was supposed to be sent and protect
the Rwandan people from / the genocide ? The reason behind avoiding
that military intervention was to allow the RPF leadership the
takeover of the Kigali Government and to show the world that they
- the RPF - were the ones who stopped the genocide. We will all
remember that the genocide occurred during three months, even
though Kagame has said that he was capable of stopping it the
first week after the aircraft crash. Can Major-General Paul Kagame
explain why he asked MINUAR to leave Rwandan soil within hours
while the UN was examining the possibility of increasing its troops
in Rwanda in order to stop the genocide
Paul Mugabe's testimony regarding the
shooting down of Habyarimana's plane ordered by Kagame is corroborated
by intelligence documents and information presented to the French
parliamentary inquiry. Major General Paul Kagame was an instrument
of Washington. The loss of African lives did not matter. The civil
war in Rwanda and the ethnic massacres were an integral part of
US foreign policy, carefully staged in accordance with precise
strategic and economic objectives.
Despite the good diplomatic relations
between Paris and Washington and the apparent unity of the Western
military alliance, it was an undeclared war between France and
America. supporting the build up of 4 Ugandan and Rwandan forces,
and by directly intervening in the Congolese civil war, Washington
also bears a direct responsibility for the ethnic massacres committed
in the Eastern Congo including several hundred thousand people
who died in refugee camps.
US policy-makers were fully aware that
a catastrophe was imminent. In fact, four months before the CIA
had warned the US State Department in a confidential brief that
the Arusha Accords would fail and "that if hostilities resumed,
then upward of half a million people would die". This information
was withheld from the United Nations: "it was not until the
genocide was over that information was passed to Maj-Gen. Dallaire
[who was in charge of UN forces in Rwanda]."
Washington's objective was to displace
France, discredit the French government (which had supported the
Habyarimana regime) and install an Anglo-American protectorate
in Rwanda under Major General Paul Kagame. Washington deliberately
did nothing to prevent the ethnic massacres.
When a UN force was put forth, Major General
Paul Kagame sought to delay its implementation stating that he
would only accept a peacekeeping force once the RPA was in control
of Kigali. Kagame "feared [that] the proposed United Nations
force of more than 5,000 troops (...) [might] intervene to deprive
them [the RPA] of victory"." Meanwhile, the Security
Council, after deliberation and a report from Secretary General
Boutros Boutros Ghali, decided to postpone its intervention.
The 1994 Rwandan "genocide"
served strictly strategic and geopolitical objectives. The ethnic
massacres were a stumbling blow to France's credibility which
enabled the US to establish a neocolonial foothold in Central
Africa. From a distinctly Franco-Belgian colonial setting, the
Rwandan capital Kigali has become - under the expatriate Tutsi-led
RPF government - distinctly Anglo-American. English has become
the dominant language in government and the private sector. Many
private businesses owned by Hutus were taken over in 1994 by returning
Tutsi expatriates. The latter had been exiled in Anglophone Africa,
the US and Britain.
The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) functions
in English and Kinyarwanda; the University, previously linked
to France and Belgium, functions in English. While English had
become an official language alongside French and Kinyarwanda,
French political and cultural influence will eventually be erased.
Washington has become the new colonial master of a francophone
Several other francophone countries in
sub-Saharan Africa have entered into military cooperation agreements
with the US. These countries are slated by Washington to follow
suit on the pattern set in Rwanda. Meanwhile in francophone West
Africa, the US dollar is rapidly displacing the CFA Franc - which
is linked in a currency board arrangement to the French Treasury.
Wreaking Ethiopia's Peasant Economy, Destroying Biodiversity
The "economic therapy" imposed
under IMF-World Bank jurisdiction is in large part, responsible
for triggering famine and social devastation in Ethiopia and the
rest of sub-Saharan Africa, wreaking the peasant economy and impoverishing
millions of people. With the complicity of branches of the US
government, it has also opened the door for the appropriation
of traditional seeds ... by US biotech corporations, which ...
have been peddling the adoption of their own genetically modified
seeds under the disguise of emergency aid and famine relief.
Crisis in the Horn
More than 8 million people in Ethiopia
- representing 15% of the country's population had been locked
into "famine zones". Urban wages had collapsed and unemployed
seasonal farm workers and landless peasants were driven into abysmal
poverty. The international relief agencies concurred, without
further examination, that climatic factors are the sole and inevitable
cause of crop failure and the ensuing humanitarian disaster. What
the media tabloids failed to disclose was that - despite the drought
and the border war with Eritrea - several million people in the
most prosperous agricultural regions had also been driven into
starvation. Their predicament was not the consequence of grain
shortages but of "free markets" and "bitter economic
medicine" imposed under the IMF-World Bank-sponsored Structural
Adjustment Programme (SAP).
The Promise of the "Free Market"
In Ethiopia, a transitional government
came into power in 1991 in the wake of a protracted and destructive
civil war. After the pro-Soviet Dergue regime of Colonel Mengistu
Haile Mariam was unseated, a multi-donor financed Emergency Recovery
and Reconstruction Project (ERRP) was put in place to deal with
an external debt of close to 9 billion dollars that had accumulated
during the Mengistu government. Ethiopia's outstanding debts with
the Paris Club of official creditors were rescheduled in exchange
for far-reaching macro-economic reforms. Upheld by US foreign
policy, the usual doses of bitter IMF economic medicine were prescribed.
Caught in the straightjacket of debt and structural adjustment,
the new Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), led by the
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) - largely
formed from the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (PLF) had committed
itself to farreaching "free market reforms", despite
its leaders' Marxist leanings. Washington soon tagged Ethiopia,
alongside Uganda, as Africa's post Cold War free market showpiece.
While social budgets were slashed under
the structural adjustment programme (SAP), military expenditure
- in part financed by the gush of fresh development loans quadrupled
since I989. With Washington supporting both sides in the Eritrea-Ethiopia
border war, US arms sales spiralled. The bounty was being shared
between the arms manufacturers and the agribusiness conglomerates...
With mounting military spending financed on borrowed money, almost
half of Ethiopia's export revenues had been earmarked to meet
Laundering America's GM Grain Surpluses
US grain surpluses peddled in war-torn
countries served to weaken the agricultural system. Some 500,000
tons of maize and maize products were "donated" in 1999-2000
by USAID to relief agencies including the World Food Programme
(WFP) which, in turn, collaborates closely with the US Department
of Agriculture. At least 30% of these shipments procured under
contract with US agri-business firms) were surplus genetically
modified grain stocks.'
Boosted by the border war with Eritrea
and the plight of thousands of refugees, the influx of contaminated
food aid had contributed to the pollution of Ethiopia's genetic
pool of indigenous seeds and landraces. In a cruel irony, the
food giants were, at the same time, gaining control - through
the procurement of contaminated food aid - over Ethiopia's seed
banks. According to South Africa's Biowatch: "Africa is treated
as the dustbin of the world ... To donate- untested food and seed
to Africa is not an act of kindness but an attempt to lure Africa
into further dependence on foreign aid."
Moreover, part of the "food aid"
had been channelled under the "food for work" program
which served to further discourage domestic production in favor
of grain imports. Under this scheme, impoverished and landless
farmers were contracted to work on rural infrastructural programmes
in exchange for "donated" US corn.
Meanwhile, the cash earnings of coffee
smallholders plummeted. Whereas Pioneer Hi-Bred positioned itself
in seed distribution and marketing, Cargill Inc. established itself
in the markets for grain and coffee through its subsidiary Ethiopian
Commodities." For the more than 700,000 smallholders with
less than two hectares that produce between 90 and 95% of the
country's coffee output, the deregulation of agricultural credit,
combined with low farmgate prices of coffee, had triggered increased
indebtedness and landlessness, particularly in East Gojam (Ethiopia's
Biodiversity up for Sale
The country's extensive reserves of traditional
seed varieties (barley, teff, chick peas, sorghum, etc.) were
being appropriated, genetically manipulated and patented by the
agri-business conglomerates: "Instead of compensation and
respect. Ethiopians today are getting bills from foreign companies
that have "patented" native species and now demand payment
for their use." The foundations of a "competitive seed
industry" were laid under IMF and World Bank auspices."
The Ethiopian Seed Enterprise (ESE), the government's seed monopoly,
joined hands with Pioneer Hi-Bred in the distribution of hi-bred
and genetically modified (GM) seeds (together with hybrid resistant
herbicide) to smallholders. In turn, the marketing of seeds had
been transferred to a network of private contractors and "seed
enterprises" with financial support and technical assistance
from the World Bank. The "informal" farmer-to-farmer
seed exchange was slated to be converted under the World Bank
programme into a "formal" market-oriented system of
"private seed producer- sellers.
In turn, the Ethiopian Agricultural Research
Institute (EARl) was collaborating with the International Maize
and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in the development of new
hybrids between Mexican and Ethiopian maize varieties." Initially
established in the 1940s by Pioneer Hi-Bred International with
support from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, CIMMYT developed
a cozy relationship with US agri-business. Together with the UK
based Norman Borlaug Institute, CIMMYT constitutes a research
arm as well as a mouthpiece of the seed conglomerates. According
to the Rural Advancement Foundation (RAFI) "US farmers already
earn $ 150 million annually by growing varieties of barley developed
from Ethiopian strains. Yet nobody in Ethiopia is sending them
Impacts of Famine
The 1984-85 famine had seriously threatened
Ethiopia's reserves of landraces of traditional seeds. In response
to the famine, the Dergue government, through its Plant Genetic
Resource Centre - in collaboration with Seeds of Survival (SoS)
had implemented a programme to preserve Ethiopia's biodiversity.
This programme - which was continued under the transitional government
- skillfully "linked on-farm conservation and crop improvement
by rural communities with government support services". '9
An extensive network of in-farm sites and conservation plots was
established involving some 30,000 farmers. In 1998, coinciding
chronologically with the onslaught of the 1998-2000 famine, the
government clamped down on seeds of Survival (SoS) and ordered
the programme to be closed down.
The hidden agenda was eventually to displace
the traditional varieties and landraces reproduced in village-level
nurseries. The latter were supplying more than 90 percent of the
peasantry through a system of farmer-to-farmer exchange. Without
fail, the 1998-2000 famine led to a further depletion of local
level seed banks: "The reserves of grains [the farmer normally
stores to see him through difficult times are empty. Like 30,000
other households in the [Galga] area, his family has also eaten
their stocks of seeds for the next harvest."" And a
similar process was unfolding in the production of coffee where
the genetic base of the arabica beans was threatened as a result
of the collapse of farmgate prices and the impoverishment of small-holders.
The famine - itself in large part a product
of the economic reforms imposed to the advantage of large corporations
by the IMF, World Bank and the US Government - served to undermine
Ethiopia's genetic diversity to the benefit of the biotech companies.
With the weakening of the system of traditional exchange, village
level seed banks were being replenished with commercial hi-bred
and genetically modified seeds. In turn, the distribution of seeds
to impoverished farmers had been integrated with the "food
aid" programmes. WPF and USAID relief packages often include
"donations" of seeds and fertilizer, thereby favoring
the inroad of the agribusiness-biotech companies into Ethiopia's
agricultural heartland. The emergency programs are not the "solution"
but the "cause" of famine. By deliberately creating
a dependency on GM seeds, they had set the stage for the outbreak
of future famines.
This destructive pattern - invariably
resulting in famine - is replicated throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
From the onslaught of the debt crisis of the early 1980s, the
IMF-World Bank had set the stage for the demise of the peasant
economy across the region [Horn of Africa] with devastating results.
Now in Ethiopia, fifteen years after the last famine left nearly
one million dead, hunger is once again stalking the land. This
time, as eight million people face the risk of starvation, we
know that it isn't just the weather that is to blame.
Famine in the Breadbasket
A "free market" in grain - imposed
by the IMF and the World Bank destroys the peasant economy and
undermines "food security". Malawi and Zimbabwe were
once prosperous grain surplus countries; Rwanda was virtually
self-sufficient in food until 1990 when the IMF ordered the dumping
of EU and US grain surpluses on the domestic market precipitating
small farmers into bankruptcy. In 1991-92, famine had hit Kenya
East Africa's most successful bread-basket economy. The Nairobi
government had been previously placed on a black list for not
having obeyed IMF prescriptions. The deregulation of the grain
market had been demanded as one of the conditions for the rescheduling
of Nairobi's external debt with the Paris Club of official creditors.
For the lifting of economic sanctions,
the government of President Daniel arap Moi required the IMF green
light. The international donor community had demanded that the
Kenyan State not interfere or otherwise regulate the distribution
of food to remote areas. The foreseeable outcome: the price of
food staples in Kenya's semi-arid East and Northeast regions bordering
Ethiopia and Somalia had skyrocketed. According to the United
Nations, close to 2 million people were locked into "famine
zones". The crisis, however, was not limited to Kenya's remote
Famine had also struck in the Rift Valley
- Kenya's thriving agricultural heartland. Throughout the country
food was available but purchasing power had collapsed under the
brunt of the IMF sponsored reforms. And surplus grain was being
of Poverty and New World Order