Thank you very much, Jeff, and now it’s time for Dr. Hirano to add some comments.
Firstly I must admit I’m a little bit nervous, as I`m about to improvise some comments to this world famous authority on economic development, but I`m going to try to be a facilitator for the Japanese audience by encouraging a level of understanding about the differences between the African situation and Japanese historical experience. In my understanding, the Millennium Villages Project, created by Professor Sachs, advocates a unique and complex approach to development, centered on increasing agricultural productivity, as 80% of the population in extreme poverty live in rural villages in Africa. In Japanese historical experience, we can see that the high economic growth period which ignited in the late 1950s of course owed a lot to industrial development but nevertheless was largely indebted to rapid agricultural production increase. In the years following the Second World War, it was not until the 1960s that we were able to enjoy food sufficiency. For example, rice productivity doubled between the 1950s and 1960s. This was a key factor in facilitating population movement from the rural areas to the cities, and in keeping wage levels low in terms of industrial development.
To add to this we have two government established agencies, one being the Agricultural Extension Service and the other being the Livelihood Extension Service. We therefore understand the importance of food-sufficiency when it comes to a comprehensive strategy for poverty alleviation. In that year, almost 60% of industrial expenditure of the general account of our government went towards developing poor rural villages. This is an idea we can easily share in terms of African development co-operation. The same kind of historical experience can be seen to be prevailing in many of our neighboring Asian countries, notably evident in the Green Revolution.
My second point regards our current relationship with Africa, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. Our country is the world`s biggest crop importer – we import on average 26 million tons of cereals per year. Now that is almost the same amount of cereals imported by all of Sub-Saharan Africa, and the whole African continent – that is to say the Northern region of Africa too – imports 55 million tons per year. But 60% of the labor force in Africa is engaged in agriculture – and so we cannot expect any progress in poverty alleviation is we are to leave such an unbalanced situation untouched. If you will allow me to repeat, 80% of those in extreme poverty are living in rural areas, and therefore an increase in productivity is definitely needed if the African people are to be emancipated from extreme poverty. The volume of Japanese cereal importation has stabilized and is in fact due to decrease – not because of our agricultural product expansion but because of population decline. But in the case of Africa, the volume of cereal importation is still growing rapidly, meaning that in the future, there`s a good chance we`ll see the cereal market crash and that will not merely be an African problem – it will be a global problem, our problem, as Japan for one relies so heavily on world food provision.
A further point regarding Japan`s current relationship with Africa concerns natural resources. Now that we in Japan find ourselves in increasing competition with our neighboring China, our private sector is going to rush to get the necessary natural resources from Africa. It is becoming increasingly apparent that strengthening our relationship with Africa is not only beneficial for Africa; the East Asian economy needs Africa as a secondary resource supplier after China, Australia and Canada. As a result, we definitely need a stable and poverty-free Africa. But I can say that, important as this is, for Japan to invest in Africa merely with the intention of creating a stable resource supplier is somewhat myopic, as resource oriented development, as was discussed in economic circles, is not necessarily conducive to effective development. Indeed, it is sometimes detrimental to development, a phenomena which is often called the “resource curse”, and so if I were allowed to pose a question to Prof. Sachs, I would like to know his thoughts of resource-oriented development in Africa and also on how best to achieve development through poverty alleviation, as the current distribution of resources and aid is very unequal meaning that Africans suffer not only from extreme poverty but from extreme inequality.
In the Millennium Villages, 25% of financial contribution is sourced locally – an effective advocate for the fact that local financial mobilization very important, despite the fact that the status quo of inequality is often against any such kind of mobilization. Poverty alleviation is not just charity; it is not just the well meaning voluntary wishes of developed communities. Rather, it is much more a matter of personal philosophy, as in some areas of the world basic human needs are being severely threatened, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. So poverty alleviation for me is about a philosophy that is a concern for all human beings, as we must all decide whether or not we choose to embrace our common humanity and be better people for it. Thank you very much.
If Jeff could respond to some of the points made, then we will go to the floor.
Let me talk about the pathways for development in Africa, both in terms of natural resources and agricultural potential and then about the inequalities. The good news on the agricultural front, as Prof. Hirano said, is that Africa is now a major importer of grain. Africa imported about 35 million metrics tons of grain in 2007 and then prices went up tremendously in 2008 with the financial crisis and this has led to a major increase of hunger. Africa is farming approximately 100 million hectares in grain production, and the yield it is getting is around 1 ton of grain per hectare. Most of the production is maize or some dry-land grain such as millet and sorghum, not very much wheat as that is a colder, more temperate climate crop, and there is also some rice. On average it is 1 ton per hectare, and yet in our countries the average yield is between 5 and 7 tons and even in developing countries the average lies at around 3 tons or more, meaning that Africa`s productivity is roughly one third that of the developing countries.
Now Prof. Hirano has been part of a very important project which was called the Sasakawa Global 2000 Project which was led by Dr. Norman Borlaug who recently passed away, and was the Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work with the Green Revolution in Asia, and the idea was to bring the Green Revolution to Africa, which was a very good idea. In our Millennium Villages we have seen that if we enable our farmers to get fertilizer and high yield seeds varieties, their yields pretty quickly go from 1 ton up to 3 tons or even 4 tons per hectare, and some of our agronomists think we can reach 5-10 tons per hectare or at least per two growing seasons if there`s some irrigation as well. So what does this suggest? It suggests that if Africa were enabled throughout the continent to reach 2 tons per hectare, it would be an increase of 100 million tons of grain, which is almost three times what Africa is importing right now. In this way, I think Africa could become self sufficient in food very quickly, and this would be a major step forward for Africa`s economic development; so that’s the first conclusion.
The second is about natural resources. Prof Hirano said, and I`ve also written some papers on this also in an attempt to understand it, that having mining resources, whether it be mining or gas or coal, or in other mineral sectors such as copper or iron ore or precious gems like diamonds or gold has had a mixed blessing in economic development. Sometimes it`s been well used, as the earnings for the resources have been invested in education, in physical infrastructure, and they have become the leading edge of development. But very often the natural resources have been a curse rather than a blessing and one of the reasons is that it`s easy for governments to take the earnings from the natural resources and use them corruptly rather than to invest them. These are not incomes that are enjoyed in a widespread way, but rather are held by the government, and if the government is corrupt then it can just grab the proceeds. This kind of resource base also gives rise to corruption because it’s a big temptation, and if you have an honest government it`s easy to overthrow them and get the income stream from the natural resources.
There are a couple of countries that have used the natural resources relatively well and Botswana is a famous case; its diamond earnings have been relatively well managed over time. But there have been many other countries that have used their natural resource wealth very badly, and Nigeria is probably the most famous example of that. Most of the oil wealth was stolen by the way not just b Nigerians but also by Western companies, such as the former vice president of the US; not him necessarily but his company. Halliburton was found guilty of a major corruption scandal in Nigeria and this is not unusual, because our big oil companies internationally play by the oil rules which are not necessarily the rules of the rest of society. This has been an ongoing problem – that the corruption is not only internal, but is also brought in from outside. And this means that in terms of natural resource wealth my conclusion is of course that it is potentially a benefit for the economy, but that it can be a curse, and in order for it not to be a curse you need an institutional and legal framework to protect the society and make it transparent. This transparency needs to be both on the multi-national company side as well as on the internal use side and we need to add extra effort for the proper and honest management of the natural resource wealth, and then it could be possible to translate it into effective development.
As for the inequality, there are many reasons for this and one is the huge gap between the urban and impoverished rural areas, and so some of the things happening in the Millennium Villages is a reduction in inequality, notably by raising the incomes of the farmers. But the longer term way to see reduced inequality is certainly through education as that is potentially the greatest equalizer of economic opportunity. That is the second Millennium Development Goal (MDG) – universal primary education. Again, it`s not hard to achieve if there`s adequate financial resources but so far the rich countries have not invested as much they promised to in education in the poor countries, and it`s one area we should put a much higher priority on.
Thank you. And now I think we can go to the floor.
Thank you very much for your presentation, it was very inspiring. I am currently in the Engineering Faculty and pursuing my degree most probably in Development Economics. My question is about the current atmosphere amongst the academics within Development Economics. It seems to me that the field is pretty much occupied with the paradigm of program evaluation using very sophisticated econometric tools and randomization, and with that some economists such as William Easterly are criticizing you, saying that your work is not randomized or making use of very sophisticated econometric tools. I`m not criticizing you, I`d just like to ask you what you anticipate in the field of Development Economics in the future.
Thank you for an excellent question. When you`re doing a project like this you have lots of choices of methodology and we had a lot of internal discussion regarding how to proceed in the project, and I would draw a distinction between 2 ideas. One is testing a specific application in which you might do a randomized trial, and the second is what I would call designing a development system which is a little bit different to testing a specific application and is more a problem of engineering and design. It`s more a question of how can you make something work, rather than performing a specific test. Let me say that many of my colleagues don’t agree with what I just said! They think the only way to rigorously do something is to do a random trial of it, but I like to make a comparison with Thomas Edison – our inventor in the US. He ran a research shop called Menlo Park which invented the phonograph, the light bulb and many many other great inventions. He didn’t do any randomized trials he just kept trying things then doing close observations, and when something worked, he became rich (that’s not our goal, that`s our goal for the community!), but this focus on what worked was a different methodology, and so my idea is that we follow more of a design or engineering methodology, as opposed to a randomized clinical trial method. At least this is the concept that I`m trying to develop with my colleagues.
Now some of my colleagues believe that we should be doing more randomized trials so this is not a settled method. But when we came into the village we had a basic idea about agriculture, health and so on, but we didn’t know how to do it and the community didn’t know how to do it. And so we didn’t feel it was the right thing to do to set up a trial at the beginning where we`re going to test one thing. We figured the right thing to do would be to conduct a kind of search for an appropriate strategy and that’s what I would call design. And we`re constantly testing different ways: how do you give credit, how do you train these workers, who should be paid, who should not be – we didn’t have a set model and indeed what happens in East Africa is quite different from what happens in West Africa. We don’t even understand the differences exactly but in West Africa the credit system works whilst in East Africa they`re not working so well. So it’s a different approach to problem solving. I think at the end of the day the issue isn’t whether you have a statistical test of a certain power, the issue is whether you have a model that can work and can scale up. And so my view is that we need to design the methodology in line with the pace of our operation.
Another problem for us methodologically is that we have maybe twenty major interventions in this project and the theory is do all of them simultaneously. We can`t prove that doing nineteen of them would be good enough, or that we need all twenty, or maybe that the best seventeen would be the best combination. But if you think about it, if you really try to test what is the minimum number that you need, you would test 2 to the 20th power different kinds of trials depending on which interventions you`re using and which you`re not using, and well that’s obviously impossible. Either you adopt a complex approach which says “we don’t know if this is exactly right but we`ll see if it works”, or you do one thing at a time and you don’t learn about the system as a whole. So again, our choice is to work at a complex system level rather than at an individual intervention level and we can’t prove that we have the minimum cost, most effective way to do something – what I do hope is that we have a workable way of doing something. What is important to remember is that since the environment we`re working in is so complicated and we`re not doing an experiment in a glass dish – were doing a process with hundreds of thousands of real people – we have to be quite careful not to view this in a very narrow way, as a randomized clinical trial. So I hope that answers a little bit of your question about our thinking.
I believe that this introduction of randomized trials has been a good thing for the economics profession, but like many things it can swing too far and be taken as the only thing to do and so I believe that economics goes in big fads and we have to try and avoid them. I don’t believe that randomized trials are the only way to learn things. I believe they can play a role but I believe that the way we`re approaching it, namely careful observation of a complex system and a design strategy rather than a testing strategy, is a workable approach. Everything were doing is being measured v carefully, it`s just not being measured for statistical tests in the same way. There`s a lot that I could add, we`re working on many other trials and so on, but I won`t go past this general point. I thank you very much for your question, it`s something we think a lot about also.
A very important point, thank you. Next question?
Thank you very much for your wonderful presentation. I`m currently a Junior at this University in the Faculty of Law. I thought that the Olyset project was very interesting, but I heard stories about the nets being used as fishing nets in some areas. I don’t know if this story is true or not but even if it is a fiction I think we can learn that sometimes what we think is important and what they think is important, or what we give and they need can be different, and thinking about development, our idea of “development” can be different to what the word means to them. My question is, how can and how should the Millennium Villages Project, and not only that but all those trying to solve the poverty problem respond to and reconcile that gap or difference?
Thank you very much for a wonderful question. One thing is very important to note in the real life of a project like this, which is that I get to visit maybe two or three of these sites every year, and there are twelve major sites so it would take me four years to make the whole rotation. The only way for this project to really work is for it to be done by local people on the ground that are coming locally, largely from their own communities and working with their local governments. There is nothing we could do that would force people to do anything first of all, just to be clear, and we did not come insisting on one thing or another, and that was part of my story on bed nets; it surprised me, as the communities all knew about these nets and wanted them tremendously (and by the way we have never once seen them be used as a fishing net, or as a wedding veil, because that was the other thing we were told! They would not make a nice wedding veil anyway…). We`ve seen them used as anti-malaria nets all over Africa and so there is a tremendous amount of consultation and the project is led by a local team. And so we have our own views, but if our own views are really not compatible with the community`s views, the community always wins I should say! Sometimes I`ve been a little frustrated with some things, but this is the community’s project. I do insist though that money not be stolen, wasted and so on, as I believe any kind of aid is a mutual responsibility system; it’s not trust, it’s not saying “I respect you so here is $60”, it’s not anything like that. Rather, it`s saying we`ll work with the community, here are the ideas, let`s work them out together but then you’re absolutely responsible for doing what you say as being your part of the bargain.
Sometimes we`ve been surprised with the nets. For example, in the village in North-Eastern Kenya, when we gave the nets, people used them for their animals first because it’s a livestock community and the sheep getting bitten throughout the night were keeping everyone awake because the sheep were crying all night! So they put them over the livestock and then we got a second order asking that the people be protected too! But it was very valid that the animals be protected, it was just something we didn’t expect. So we learned that it’s extremely important to keep our eyes open, to learn, and to let the community lead.
Now there’s an issue which I want to raise which also comes up often and which I take a particular view about, and that’s about respecting the culture. It would seem like a good idea whatever you’re doing to respect the culture. But it’s often more complicated than that. Sometimes the culture advocates very harmful practices, like female genital mutilation, and it’s hard to respect that kind of culture. And sometimes the culture is that girls are married at age 12 and I don’t respect that culture for the modern world. And so of course we are guests in these communities, and we`re not missionaries, we’re not converting anyone in religious terms, but culture needs to change often as well. I think out of the two main changes that I believe in, one is the rights of girls, because these are typically very male dominated traditional societies. And so we do push gender equality and v much believe in it, but that can clash with the culture.
And the second is the culture of beliefs that are really dangerous beliefs. Many of the health beliefs of traditional societies don’t keep people alive – they kill the children because people don’t know about microbes, infection or even about safe nutritional practices. Our experience in all the villages is the following – we obviously try to take a very cooperative approach on everything because we are guests and we’re barely even present physically, but when we’ve tried to explain some of the alternatives there’s generally been quite a high receptivity, not a clash. We were in a village this summer in Ethiopia which is a very traditional male dominated village, but we introduced a scholarship program for girls to get secondary education and you could see how proud the community is now that the girls are going to high school. One man said to me at a meeting: “this will be the first girl who will ever graduate high school in the history of this village!”, and they were very very proud. So the culture is changing quickly. So your question is a good one, but I think one would find almost everywhere in the world that if you’re not demanding, if you’re not a missionary saying follow our religion not your religion, and operate on a very mutually respectful basis, these issues tend not to be the major barriers to progress.
I can add one more point from my limited experience. One of the important points in the villages is to dig new wells which provide fresh water and I noticed that the local people`s participation in the decision-making process regarding where the well should be was very important. It was a very encouraging process and in the end the decision was mostly theirs. In the long run it’s the most effective way of ensuring more participation from the people and I noticed this kind of respect for the people very much in the Millennium Villages.
Thank you very much. I am from the Congo, former Zaire, and I`m thrilled to be able to hear your voice as the guru of the MDGs and the first question I want to ask is in your informed opinion, are you confident that the MDGs can be achieved by 2015? The second point I want to mention is with regards to foreign aid, you did mention, after Prof. Hirano`s intervention, the issue of corruption, which is a very real one. I`ve read some of your comments in the media and I`ve twice read the book Dead Aid written by your former student at Harvard Dambisa Moyo. I`m not saying I agree with her views but to use her phrase, the new “culture of aid” in the developed world is one that largely excludes Africans – like in here, look around this room, where are the Africans?! [Sachs interjects: “There you are!” To which the questioner laughs and agrees] There is a frustrating situation in this aid situation as most Africans are not respected around the world. If I need to go to France, I need to wait three days to get a visa. How do these things fit together? Promoting aid and also human rights – this is an issue I want economists and politicians to address respectively. Thank you very much.
You’ve asked three questions:
1. Can the MDGs be achieved
2. How to handle corruption
3. Involvement of Africans
Let me discuss all three of them quickly. To achieve the MDGs requires a very concerted and accelerated investment in key areas: roads, power, clinics, schools, malaria control, and agriculture. We`re running out of time certainly, as this was a fifteen year project and for a long time not too much happened as basically the world is easily distracted. The Iraq war was one major distraction, and a lot of the donor promises were made early but then didn`t get fulfilled. It`s not been like running a race, starting in 2000 with everyone running toward 2015. It was a long time motivating people trying to get the strategy in place and so on. The MDGs are I think remarkably effective now in guiding the basic ideas about improving access to health, improving agriculture and so on, but many of these investments are not being made at anything like the pace they should be, and usually the poor countries don`t get the financial help they need to carry this out at scale.
So what I say is that if we really did what we said we were going to do – double aid and implement it in effect ways, there’s still time to meet the MDGs in most places, but we`re sadly still not going to meet them in many places. And I’m afraid your country is very difficult as part of your country is in a massive war, which although is possibly starting to simmer down, has been a major barrier, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is such a huge country with so little infrastructure and connection inside, huge governance problems, war and lack of aid, the effort really hasn’t been made in an organized way compared to other places. So if you compared the DRC to Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, the amount of investment that’s been made in DRC is much much less, and that`s going to be hard to turn around in a short period of time. So where there’s war today we definitely won’t meet the MDGs, and if the donors continue the way they’re continuing we also won’t meet them.
But as a logical matter of things that could be done, the amount of progress that’s potentially achievable is very very large, and it`s worth the fight to get done as much as we can and to not give up on the effort. I believe in and see progress in certain areas, for example we have seen a big drop in malaria and measles (more than 90% decline), and increased immunization coverage. The G8 in Italy in summer and then the G20 finally announced that we will now promote agriculture in Africa. It took many years just to get the announcement. Now they’ve announced 20 billion dollars for the next three years which is a good sum of money, and I`m in charge of figuring out where that money really is; at the moment it’s still in the imagination! It`s not yet in any bank account, at least not one that we can get at for this purpose. So this is the big challenge.
When it comes to the corruption issue, I think the main idea is to direct the assistance in ways that are measurable, identifiable and subject to audit. In other words, don’t just hand over money. The US used to hand over money to Mr. Mobutu because of course they didn’t care what happened to it, they just wanted an ally in the Cold War. Pretty stupid strategy frankly – one that could wreck a whole country. If that’s what aid was about I`d agree with what Dambisa Moyo says! But that’s not what aid has to be. She is complaining about what aid is in many cases and I agree with those complaints, but doesn`t look at what aid can be. Because if aid is properly directed to fight malaria, it saves children’s lives.
Here is where I really part company with her though. I said when I was arguing with her, aid is saving millions of lives to which she responded “Oh that`s just a band aid”. Well I don’t consider saving millions of lives a band aid, I consider that a wonderful achievement of the world uniting together to accomplish something important – that’s not a band aid. You see one child dying of malaria you’ve seen enough for a lifetime and you know that it’s not a band aid to save children`s lives. So we should be insisting that aid is targeted, measured, audited, and this is a bargain that both sides have to live up to. Proper information systems – I believe this can be done, is it really so hard to check that the bed nets have been distributed? No it isn’t, it`s perfectly manageable. Same with immunization – these are basic management problems that are much less complicated than many other things we do in the world. So we can make aid work, if we treat it seriously and not as a game, not as just handing over money (which is the worst kind of aid), but making direct investments in specific areas, where you can see the results on the ground.
As for the African voice, in the Millennium Villages Project the whole team in Africa is African of course. It’s the villagers, it’s the local teams who are all nationals in the country; they see what’s happening in these communities and you just listen to their voices, they know the transformation. And I spend a lot of time visiting these places, talking to people. For example I sat next to a local legislator in Kenya recently, and he said something which he didn’t have to say to me, it wasn’t to get more money or anything else, he just said that no one could believe how the lives of these people have changes in the last four years. He said, “Mr. Sachs you don`t understand. They had no hope here at all four years ago. None! Now they have hope because they can see in their own communities that their children are in school, that they are farming enough to eat, that they are earning some income, that they even have a bank account!” And the health minister in Ethiopia said to us this summer as he saw the girls graduating, “I can`t believe this is happening in rural Ethiopia.” He had a conversation with a father who instead of marrying his 12 year old daughter off to the neighbor, which is what the neighbor wanted, let the girl make the decision, and she wanted to stay in school. And the minister said he would never have believed that such a conversation would take place in his country, in Ethiopia.
And so we`re seeing a lot that’s real. It`s not band aids, rather what we are hearing really demonstrates the potential of this, and I think we should listen to those voices, who all too often don’t get heard in the debate. Ms. Moyo is not representing Africans in my opinion – she is African born. She got a scholarship to Harvard, to Oxford and then spent ten years at Goldman Sachs in London. She is not representing voices in the villages that I’m seeing, because in the villages that I`m seeing the mothers aren`t saying “Oh it just a band aid that my child is alive.” For them that’s their whole life, that their children have a chance. And so what I think we should do is focus very hard on the systems; how do you make sure that help really reaches the people in the villages? And if you can do that we should do it as much as is needed to get this job done. That’s my personal opinion.
Hi good afternoon, I am an international student at ICU (International Christian University) and I’m coming at this from a peace angle as opposed to a more economic angle. One of my interests at the moment is Diasporas involvement in their host country and I was wondering to what extent you’ve tried to work with the Diasporas and how supportive they’ve been, and whether that in your experience is a useful method of development and humanitarian peace work. My other question is, as far as the environment goes, as cultures develop, and they want more, they’re wealthier, and we become more consumptive societies (like Japan like the US), how do you foresee we are going to cope with the problem that is already developing within the developed world? We are consuming far more than we are entitled to anyway, and now, although Africa is just as entitled to this as the rest of the world, how do you foresee that we can bring down expectations for material consumption in the West and get people round the world to acknowledge the environmental problems that we are going to cause as all of us continue to consume more and more?
Let me try quickly to answer three things. First you mention the peace aspect so let me say a word about that. Hungry people are very vulnerable to conflict. And so if we want to end these conflicts we have to end the hunger. It`s not quite as mechanical as I`m making it sound but when people are hungry first they`re desperate, and second they`re subject to a lot of political manipulation. We are operating in very fragile places but we have seen again and again evidence that even the Millennium Villages are helping to keep a more peaceful environment. When there was violence in western Kenya and there was a lot of destruction, nothing was touched in the Millennium Village area. A lot of people said “this is working for us, were not going to burn this down”. And yet in the neighboring areas there was violence. Similarly, we`re working in the North-East of Kenya, near the Somali border. In Somalia it`s chaos, whereas in our village it`s peaceful. It’s the same Somali ethnicity but in our area people are eating and they have a livelihood and so even the government have asked us recently to help expand the project from a point of view of keeping internal security because it works from a peacemaking point of view, so I strongly believe that that’s very important.
We have in the US some African Diaspora, in NYC for example, and there`s been some engagement, though not a lot. I’ve tried a little bit, probably not as much as possible, but in Nigeria we have some engagement and some more starting. In Senegal there is a bit of engagement, and I think that there is more that can be done. I know that in some areas people are going home and are lending labor and activity, so I think there is definitely potential there.
And then onto the consumption issue. First of course at this point, Africa’s consumption is so tiny compared to ours, one would never think to try to balance the world situation on the backs of the poorest people of the world. But we do face a global consumption challenge, and the basic answer is partly better lifestyles, but also better technology, and Africa can actually play a very important role in this. I believe that by the middle of the century, solar energy will, and had better, play a huge role in the global energy system. And you may have seen maps that have been made by the engineers that show that a small square in the Sahara desert collects enough solar radiation to provide the electricity for the whole world (if it was all covered by mirrors and if the electric lines were carrying the electricity). That of course is not how you would power the world, but it shows the tremendous potential for a completely sustainable energy system in Africa and I think we need to think about all of the development challenges in our own countries and in Africa with sustainable technologies as the crucial way to combine living standards and ecological sustainability. Examples of such technologies would be renewable energy systems, electric vehicles, much more ecologically sound buildings, new agricultural practices that are much less destructive of the environment such as micro dosing of fertilizer and much more efficient irrigation systems.
These are the real challenges of sustainable development; not to tell the poor that (and you said it very well) they can’t develop, that would be impossible and horrendous, but instead to say, if we are going to have a world of 8 billion people – and I hope we can stabilize population at 8 billion – that is living prosperously and sustainably, then we will need a completely new technological mix to what we have right now. It`s not a mystery as to what that mix might be but we need to get from here to there, and that requires a lot of investment and a lot of commitment, which is what we don’t have that at the international level yet.
I again would like to add one more point which is that the issue of sustainability is not neglected in the Millennium Villages Project. For example, at the early stages of development, people often overuse resources such as trees from the mountains, until the mountains become bald, and therefore in the Millennium Villages, such overuse is carefully controlled, so that the number of trees taken from the mountains is kept to a minimum and green can be maintained.
Great answer and actually this project specifically is planting millions and millions of trees all over the mountains and all around the villages because they were deforested before, and now they are finally being brought back through active environmental management.
Thank you for your presentation, I am from Keio University and currently studying Development Economics. I’ve always been led to believe that poverty can be defined as living on less than $1.25 a day. But gradually I`ve begun to realize that there are various differing definitions of poverty, so I would like to know what your definition of poverty is when you refer to it?
You`re absolutely right that there are many definitions of poverty right now. The World Bank uses a very formal definition of $1.25 a day, measured at purchasing power parody (it used to be a $1.80). I think is not a very good definition actually; not only is it hard to measure, it also doesn’t mean very much. What if you have $1.25 but there’s no clinic nearby or there’s no clean water to drink? What difference does income make in that case, as you`re still deeply deprived of basic needs. So I like a basic needs approach to poverty, and that is to gage how best to go about meeting basic needs, needs which I would say include access to a safe physical environment, clean water and sanitation. It includes safety from preventable and treatable diseases, which means a functioning primary health system. It means school for children. It means having enough to eat. It means gender equity at the very least, as you can be above the income line but if a girl can’t go to school, can’t own property, can’t earn an income, then she’s poor. And so there’s a human rights dimension to this as well.
So essentially that’s the basic needs approach, and we don’t measure that systematically anywhere in the world so I can’t tell you what the true poverty number is. It’s around a billion people but I can’t tell you if it’s 1.4 billion, if it’s 900,000, because we don’t measure this as carefully and properly as we should. What I like about the MDGs Is that they take a kind of a basic needs approach to poverty they push very clearly the key issues: income, hunger, gender, school, disease, water, sanitation. That’s a good list of things that need to be met in order to be free of poverty but unfortunately I can’t give you the number. I believe that the most effective and accurate way of measuring it is actually going into the communities and that’s what we’re doing in the Millennium Villages, but worldwide we don’t have this concept properly defined and measured.
We can pick up two more questions….
Q6：Mr. Fukui, Former Governor of Bank of Japan
Thank you very much for your excellent speech. I was a student at this school fifty years ago and today I came back as a student and so I hope I am allowed to ask two questions of you. The first is a broad question about globalization and Africa. We are now living in a globalized economy. Financial and economic integration is making rapid progress. And yet, meanwhile, Africa is being further isolated from the rest of the world. What therefore is its future in terms of joining with the rest of the globalized world? The second question is a more specific question. You pointed out three elements needed to kick start development in Africa – transportation, agriculture and measures for disease prevention. Perhaps the next step will be education. Hearing you speak, I was reminded of our history here in Japan – even before the Meiji Restoration. Our ancestors had an excellent education system that is called Terakoya (寺子屋) in Japanese; in which very primitive primary schools were set up in the village temples. Teachers taught pupils about reading, understanding and writing, counting and many other things. But the most important thing they taught, I believe, is a sense of diligence and how to reach happiness through hard work. What would be your views on applying this traditional Japanese method in Africa?
Thank you very much governor, it’s an honor to have you as a student today in my lecture! Globalization today is playing a mixed role in the African context; it`s certainly very complicated. On the one hand, Africa really is being brought into the world economy like all other regions, and especially now the quest for oil and other resources is bringing more engagement – which as you know can be beneficial or harmful as I described earlier with regards to investments. Sometimes the actions of the outside are so irresponsible that they lead to quite destructive forces. Maybe by mistake Daewoo wanted to buy a large part of Madagascar for Korean food supply, and this contribued to the coup a few months ago. I think the government made mistakes, maybe it was corruption I don’t know, but the whole episode was very painful and globalization definitely interacted with it.
On the other side there are two more aspects. One is that there are still rural areas that are relatively untouched by globalization and theirs is the kind of situation I was describing: poverty, rapid population growth, environmental degradation and worsening poverty and this is not being solved by globalization. Then I’d say the most positive part of globalization is the spread of communication, knowledge and technology. I’m amazed even in the last five years with the cell phone; I said earlier how important I think that was. When we started the Millennium Villages Project and I had that meeting in western Kenya I asked how many people had used a telephone, and almost everybody had never made a phone call. If I were to ask the question today, which I should do next time I go, I would guess that everyone has made one, and that’s just within the last four or five years. Not only are they making phone calls but now the phone is their bank because they conduct banking and payments via the phone. So you have to be optimistic about that, that this is really transforming the situation.
Up until this year, East Africa did not have fiber optic cables in place for broadband, it only had satellite. And yet now there’s a submarine cable, and maybe in three years there will be internet far more widely available – that will be a huge improvement as well. So I think that globalization in the end is going to work for Africa. Up until now it hasn’t been decisive but I think it will be positive and more decisive over time.
On education, one of the things to really grasp regarding Africa`s situation which I didn’t discuss is the colonial period. The colonial powers were anti education – aggressively. In fact in studying the Darfur crisis, I read a memo that the British governor wrote back to the colonial office that read: “We have succeeded in ensuring that no children in Darfur will receive an education except for the chief`s children”, and this was a colonial policy. When Mozambique became independent from Portugal, there were about five people with a High School education, maybe two or three with a college degree and maybe a dozen with a High School (Junior High?) education out of the millions of people constituting the population. And so Africa was colonized from the 1880`s until the 1960`s and the education was absolutely not pursued by the colonial powers until maybe the last five or ten years. This was a disaster. Bt the way this was quite different from Japan`s colonial policy in Korea and Taiwan, as in Korea for example, there was almost complete literacy. People often say that Korea and Ghana were at the same level of development in 1950 and look what happened, but that’s not true – that’s a false comparison. If you look, Ghana had almost no literacy and Korea had universal literacy, which means that it was a completely different circumstance.
And so the colonial experience was a disaster for Africa, another key reason for this being that no rail was built. I`m going to show you a map as it`s quite interesting and there`s a long history behind it.
[Slide of India`s rail system compared with Africa`s]
Here you can see the rail system of India, built almost entirely by the British Raj and, and next to it the rail system of Africa and you see that whilst the Indian network is a system, Africa`s is just a few spurs. The reason is that Africa`s rail system was built only to reach the copper mines, the diamond mines and the cotton plantations. This was built to reach the whole country and Africa was such a low-value colonial enterprise that nobody could make their colonies earn any money, and so they invested very little except in very particular places. I think this legacy still remains very powerfully today.
Now of course you were also asking about something else – about teaching discipline, the virtues of hard work and so on. I would say that in the Millennium Villages, what we`ve seen is parents desperate to get their kids into school, and when we have given the opportunity for them to go to school they have all been coming. What keeps them out is that they’re too far away or that they’re absolutely needed at home, and therefore once you ease the water situation then the daughter can go to school as she doesn’t have to fetch the water. Another sure way to draw children to school is of course taking away the school fee.
The parents really want their kids to go to school and the loudest applause I ever got, even louder than when we gave out the bed nets was, where was that..? [Dr. Sonia Sachs interjects “Uganda”], Oh yes in Uganda, we were standing outside a school and I was making my usual campaign for mayor saying all the good things we were going to bring to the village. Then I said because of our partnership with Ericsson this community will have wireless and this school will have computers and the mothers…well they started chanting and dancing and ululating and I wondered slightly because I thought they had never seen a computer before, but the fact was they knew it was good for their child and so I think we`re going to find the educational demand to be very high actually. It’s ultimately a question of supply of teachers, of schools, and I think we`ll find a very good result. And so this again gives me the kind of optimism that these problems are going to be solved.
I’m sorry because of time limitations we`re going to have to stop here but before making my closing remarks can I express my special thanks to Dr. Sonia Sachs who just raised her wonderful voice to supplement his presentation. She herself is a scholar in healthcare and I suspect that she led Jeff to this area..! And I’d also like to thank the staff of GLS in our university and express special thanks to Millennium Promise Japan, led by Rieko Suzuki, and to Dr. Hirano – your comments were very effective in leading the comments from the floor. And finally, most importantly thank you to Jeff for coming here to join us despite your very busy schedule; I believe Sonia and Jeff have covered six countries in one week or so, finally arriving in Japan. Now I think you can understand why Jeff was chosen as one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine in 2005. But also I was very much impressed with the manner in which he talked to you and responded to your questions. I witnessed Jeff as an educator and I was very much impressed by that. On this note, I would like to close this symposium. Thank you very much for your wonderful participation.
This marks the end of today`s program. Thank you very much for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at your next event. Thank you very much！