Page 10 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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10
OCTOBER 2012
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
I often ask new FSOs to sum up the
purpose of our visit to a village or ministry
in one sentence before we arrive at a vil-
lage or ministry, and then ask them to do
so again after we depart.
Tey generally don’t say much before
we arrive—they are just glad to leave the
ofce. But afterward, their voices ear-
nestly proclaim the “absolute needs”
of benefciaries that their program can fx.
I can almost see fre in their belly again.
Raymond H. Morton
USAID FSO, retired
Sarasota, Fla.
Seven Billion and Counting
I’m surprised there have been so few
responses to Ben Barber’s clear, concise
article in the April issue (“Seven Billion
and Counting”) concerning population
growth. Te prospect of billions of people
competing for resources and employment
on a rapidly deteriorating planet would
seem to merit more attention.
Te “Green Revolution” that used
industrial farming methods to obtain
greater crop yields to feed soaring popula-
tions did as much damage as good. Large
agribusinesses have reduced the varieties
of grains, seeds and fruits to those that suit
their purposes and are easily packed and
shipped. (Often those varieties require the
use of pesticides, which the same compa-
nies sell.)
Tey also practice a method of agri-
culture totally dependent on oil, in which
farms are consolidated into large holdings
worked by machines. Tese large mono-
cultures would seem to be both the cause
of, and more subject to, droughts, because
they need more water and oil to operate.
Both resources will be in shorter supply in
the future.
Factory farms housing huge numbers
of animals in terrible conditions and fac-
tory fshing in the form of overfshing or
fsh farms keep up with growing demand
at the expense of animals, the environ-
ment and public health.
What new, magical technology can
be used to feed even more people today
in the face of droughts and changing
weather patterns?
Barber’s description of six young
university graduates in Cairo who work
the night shift at a hotel for a dollar a
day, because no good job is available
without family connections, is equally
depressing. It also fts the profle of
some of the terrorists involved in the
9/11 attacks. Huge pools of disafected
young people unable to fnd meaningful
work (or any) are a source of instability
and migration.
I empathize with how Barber has
been afected by the growing crowds
and environmental deterioration he sees
when returning to places formerly visited.
Solving one problemwithout thinking of
others created endangers all.
Several months ago a radio talk show
host interviewed attendees at a confer-
ence in Washington, D.C., on poverty in
the developing world. Some spoke of their
agencies’ work in the feld since the 1960s.
Tat the problems are not only there but
seem to be getting worse is truly discour-
aging.
Population growth is a serious problem
that isn’t being addressed. But Barber’s
article was a very good start.
Michele D. Fiala
Bangkok, Tailand
Remembering Adele
Americans in Paris have lost a good
friend: Adele Annis died on July 3 at
her country home in Gressey, France.
Although she was not an ofcial Ameri-
can, she worked for many years on behalf
of both residents and temporary visitors
to France.
tunity to help these new ofcers, I worry
about their ability to make contributions
to USAID’s development programs that hit
the mark set forth in a 2011 Government
Accountability Ofce report (GAO-11-
241): “to develop the men and women the
United States requires to fulfll its leader-
ship role in world afairs, and to advance
and defend U.S. interests.”
Tough I was a farmmanager and
an agricultural teacher before I joined
USAID, one does not need to have degrees
and practical experience in agriculture to
be a successful agricultural development
ofcer. But sometime, early on, you do
need to know what illiteracy, hunger, poor
health and a livelihood of $0.70/day mean
to a family, community and developing
nation.
State points out in its comments to the
GAO report that “much of the training at
our posts is accomplished via on-the-job
experience.” Unfortunately, I have not
seen nearly enough of this at the posts
where I’ve worked as a consultant. Every-
one needs to “kick the tires” for every
development program handled.
Part of the problem is the fact that
USAIDmanagers assigned as supervisors
and mentors in overseas missions do not
have enough time to share their devel-
opment experience with junior ofcers.
Field trips to understand development are
rare events and often difcult to arrange
because of—you guessed it—forms and
paperwork.
As a consequence, the motivation,
compassion, curiosity, technical skills
and previous development experience
acquired—and required to join USAID—
all vaporize quickly. And since tenure
and promotion in USAID largely depend
on an ofcer’s ability to meet paperwork
deadlines and get along with others, it’s no
surprise that those are the skills new hires
devote time to honing.