Ioulia Fenton

“You Can’t Fire Your Land”: How the Humble Farmer Dethrones Free Market Economics

One of the primary lessons in Economics 101 is that of the rules of supply and demand in a market economy and their relationship to price. The basics being that the price of a product will adjust depending on the level of demand and level of supply in any given market and will eventually settle on an equilibrium when supply balances with demand.

Now we don’t need to go into all the details, as, for the sake of argument, we are interested in only one theoretical law governing this relationship. It states that should the market for a particular good get over-saturated with supply, then the price of this good will keep going down until a point where producers will stop making it or scale down their operations as they will no longer be as profitable. Read More »

Can We Use Trade to Make Us Healthier? A Case Study From Mexico

U.S. exports obesity epidemic to Mexico was the conclusion of a recent Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) report. The study looks at the health consequences of the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA), a tri-lateral trade liberalization agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. that came into effect in 1994. The researchers tracked the increases of U.S. exports into Mexico that followed NAFTA’s implementation. These included such items as soft drinks, snack foods, processed meats, and dairy, as well as raw inputs such as corn and soybeans that are used in the food processing industry. They then linked the rises to increased consumption of unhealthy foods and, thusly, to an incremental rise in the nation’s climbing obesity epidemic. Read More »

No We Didn’t Have This Green Thing In Our Day

“There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you”.

J.K. Rowling  2008 Harvard Commencement Speech (available as transcript and video)

Anyone interested in conservation or other environmental issues will undoubtedly put at least a considerable chunk of the responsibility for our current predicament onto our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Although there may be some truth in that, if we are really honest with ourselves, few find it hard to live up to environmental principles today – we all enjoy the conveniences of the world we condemn. Read More »

Has Gender Failed African Women? An Interview With Khadija Bah-Wakefield

Since the 1995 United Nations Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women, the world of development has been obsessed with the idea of mainstreaming ‘gender’ throughout aid delivery programs and operations. Nowhere has this been more true than in Africa. So, almost two decades later, has gender mainstreaming succeeded? And if not, what has been the reality and how should the world move forward? The Development Roast sat down with the incredibly inspiring Khadija Bah-Wakefield to learn from her quarter century career as a senior gender and socioeconomic advisor to the World Bank, different factions of the United Nations, West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development, New Partnership for Africa’s Development and many other donor groups in over twenty African countries*. Read More »

Breast Flattening—Barbaric Practice or a Sign of Something Deeper?

What would you do if you were the mother of a young girl born into a social setting where her gender automatically affects her chances of independence, riches and success? Most of us live in such societies as gender imbalances are institutionalised and pervasive the world over. Take the recently exposed gender gap in US election coverage published by 4thEstate.net that showed that even on important issues specifically facing women (such as reproductive health, birth control, women’s rights), the US media consulted the voices of actual women only 12-31% of the time. Read More »

Livelihood Diversification: Is That All There Is?

It is practically impossible to look into any part of international development without coming across “livelihood diversification”. It is a process whereby families in poor countries move away from relying on just one livelihood strategy to many different ones.

This is widely accepted to apply to the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America alike. The implication being that helping people diversify their livelihoods would be beneficial to development and poverty reduction, especially for those who cannot diversify themselves. Read More »

Relevance of Ancient Technologies to Today’s Global Problems

“More and more and higher-level technology” is heralded as the way that the human population will eventually get itself out of the global troubles it has wreaked. Under-researched genetically modified seeds to be sold to poor rural farmers in India; financially, socially and environmentally expensive Three Dams Project in China; and ethically dubious biofuel alternatives made in order to stem the toxic air pollution of the global transport industry. Each high-tech solution has its merits and its downfalls, of course, but do we always need to be looking forward or could we learn something from our ancestors? Read More »

Graphics: How Much Water Do You Eat?

Meat production is thirsty business. Do you know much water do you eat? INESAD’s latest inforgraphic provides some real food for thought. Did you know, for example that a beef burger takes 2,400 litres of water to produce, compared to 170 litres for a vegetarian burger.

Find out more at www.unwater.org and www.waterfootprint.org.  Read More »

Is it Me or is Communism Everywhere?

Ah, the sea of red that must be flooding your imagination: images of red flags intercepted by golden stars, shining hammers, crossing sickles, mixed in with flashes of Mao, Stalin, Che, Castro, bread queues and cold wars. Communism has become a hugely loaded word, most widely associated with political ideologies and regimes that we (UK, Europe, US and beyond) deem to be communist countries of Russia, China and Cuba.

Yet, as Anthropologist David Graeber points out in his recent book Debt: The First 5,000 years*, even the leaders and ruling parties of these nations never actually called their arrangements communist. Rather, they see themselves as socialist, with communism representing a distant, utopian, stateless ideal. Read More »

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