I have to admit to being fascinated by this development project that The Guardian is running in Katine, northern Uganda. Over a period of several years they’re trying to see how and if it’s possible to kick start development: a noble and worthy goal.
The fascination comes in part from my not quite understanding the mindset of those attempting to do the developing. There was one report about how there were not enough desks in the schools: not enough had been delivered by the Government apparently. But, umm, who would assume that in a poor country the Government ought to be delivering school desks? A table is not really all that high technology, a few burly blokes with machetes and a few days work in the woods would knock up something useable wouldn’t it? Why this reliance upon the State, some hundreds of miles away over near impassable roads?
Another example is this piece about how a Coke (that’s as in cola, not Charlie) is available in every village store but medicines are not. Or rather, medicines are indeed available in private stores, but not in the State run health care centres. The end of the piece is:
The new battle is now not just to get HIV medicines to people with Aids, but to get a consistent, affordable supply of essential drugs to all who need them. That means that governments in the west, as well as in developing countries, need to make money available, and turn their attention to supply systems. It can’t be left to Coca-Cola barons. It’s too important to leave to the market. Not just for Uganda, or Africa, but for all of us.
Excuse me, but given that the market does indeed get a consistent supply of drugs to those who need them, surely that means that it’s too important not to use the market?