Posts Tagged ‘sustainability and the commons’

Will developing countries agree that the Paris climate deal was the “best chance we have” to save the planet?

December 14, 2015
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Campaigners take to the street of Paris to warn that failure to act to curb temperature rises will cross a red line. Source: BBC News online

Saturday 12th December 2015 marked the climax of the world’s first climate deal to limit global warming to no more than two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. Furthermore, 196 countries attending the COP21 talks in Paris made the ambitious agreement to “endeavour to limit” the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees, and beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100, to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to no more than the planet can absorb naturally, therefore effectively “neutralising” CO2 emissions. Hailed by the US President as “best chance we have” to save the planet, how feasible is this [partly] legally binding agreement and how will the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to meet this goal be apportioned between the developed and developing countries?

First of all, the COP21 agreement hasn’t yet been signed and sealed. In order for the deal to go through, no less than 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions now need to ratify the agreement. Beyond that, according to scientists, to meet these goals, the world would have to stop emitting greenhouse gases (that is, burning coal, oil and gas for energy) entirely within the next 50 years. This sizeable shift would require a complete reform on how people obtain energy which many critics argue most countries cannot afford and are not ready for. Climate researchers have also warned that even if all the initial targets set in preparation for COP21 were met, global warming would still exceed the two degrees threshold (see image below).

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UK Prime Minister, David Cameron posted on his Facebook profile that, “I said it would have to come with regular reviews; help for the poorest in the world; and a transfer of technology from the richest to the poorest nations. It does all those things.” So how have these “things” been met as part of the agreement?

It was agreed that each country’s proposed reductions in emissions would have to be reviewed every five years in order to establish their individual progress. Rich countries would also be required to help poorer countries by providing “climate finance” to help them adapt to climate change and adopt renewable energy. This figure was agreed at a conservative $100bn a year by 2020, which when put into context, is only equivalent to 8% of the worldwide declared spend on military each year. Direct compensation for developing countries taking the brunt of climate change was categorically ruled out.

With so few details on “climate finance” available at this stage, contrary to my previous blog, my view is that we should be a little sceptical about expanding the concept of such finance. Could this simply be enlarging an existing finance scheme governed by developing countries to rack up unmanageable debt in the developing world? How accessible will these “funds” be and with what strings attached, and who knows how much of the budget will be taken up by corruption failing delivery on the ground? As the system currently stands, there is no internationally consistent definition of what “climate finance” is or how it is tracked both in terms of monitoring outcomes and financial flows.

Specific targets for individual countries have been omitted from the agreement for the reason that certain countries which could be considered to be developing for example China, India and South Africa refused to sign up at the Copenhagen talks in 2009 for fear that the targets would stall economic growth and development, as discussed in my previous blog. Instead, the pledges are voluntary and although the obligation on individual countries to set an emissions-reduction target under five-yearly reviews is legally binding, the COP21 deal so far does not insist that the targets themselves will be legal binding but are instead in control of each individual country, which leads me to believe that the whole concept could be ineffective. How will the impact of climate finance be measured? Who will enforce the pledges that each country declares at the five year intervals? Quite apart from these and other issues, the pledges made prior to COP21 aren’t, according to Climate Change Tracker (see image above), enough to keep global warming below the 2-degree centigrade threshold (above pre-industrialisation levels), so the agreement to “save the planet” is already a fallacy.

Despite what feels to me like a new global trend for renewable energy and a patriotic approach towards the planet in which we all live, I believe the COP21 was an historical step towards protecting the earth for future generations to come. In practical terms however, I am convinced that substantially more needs to be done at the community and household level to sustain such ambitious and unpredictable goals. We need to fundamentally change the way in which we live and utilise energy for any of the COP21’s grand plans to become a reality. With the next progress report due to take place in 2018, it seems unlikely that the urgency of global warming has truly been appreciated on the world stage and could perhaps already be too late. As the co-founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben put it, “This didn’t save the planet. But it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.”

I believe that it is more likely that we will see the effects of climate change intensifying, particularly for those that have done little to cause it, than a global shift in the way we utilise energy. Rather than sitting and waiting to see what happens next, you and I, as individuals should take up our responsibility of global citizenship and investigate the ways in which we can play our part in taking on board 350.org’s message to look beyond the COP21 agreement and do as much as we can to strive for “a just and liveable planet” each and every single day. By being given more information, which must come from the world leaders, we can also all adjust our behaviours accordingly.

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Will the COP21 negotiations in Paris on climate change really work?

December 12, 2015

The Paris negotiations started in mid-November and are expected to reach a conclusion on the 12th of December. What are they for? Who will attend? And who will influence the decisions that are made?

So far, the talks appear to have only been dominated by corporate organisations and world leaders. According to Democracy Now, “the U.N. climate summit has come under scrutiny for its unprecedented level of corporate sponsorship — more than 50 companies, with some of them counted by climate activists as being among the world’s worst industrial polluters. Last Friday [4th December], climate activists gathered at the Grand Palais in Paris protesting the COP21 “Solutions” exhibition, where businesses were pushing for corporate and privatised responses to climate change. Several protesters were evicted from the premises by the large security presence at the event.” What has been the reaction to this?

Global Justice Now, stated “We believe that what is needed is system change, not climate change. This change will not be made by corporations or world leaders. Rather it will be made by us as a global movement of citizens.” How is this possible when the communities which are affected aren’t invited and are evicted by the French police?

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350.org posters for COP21. Photograph: 350.org

With the Paris terrorist attacks so recent, does it make the climate protests more or less significant; and does this affect the agenda of global leaders? Have the series of protests and demonstrations been held back as a result? In absolute terms, the answer is yes; demonstrations have been banned and security has been tightened. However, over 130 heads of state and government that were due to attend have not pulled out. This is a positive. Environmental activists appear to be more mobilised than ever, stating that COP21 is “The Climate Games”. On the last day of the summit, thousands of people are expected to converge around the Le Brouget summit. “Red lines” have been set up, namely ten different blockades dividing the cause upon which protesters feel are the most important for example equitable climate finance for poorer countries, or meaningful emissions reductions.

“It is going to be the largest mass civil disobedience climate justice action that we have ever seen in Europe,” said Prayal Parekh, a campaigner with 350.org. “We’re sensing a lot of excitement and appetite. It’s going to be colourful.”

The goal of the talks is to achieve a new global deal to curb emissions from 2020 and prevent the planet from catastrophic overheating (that is, over two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels resulting in irreversible changes to the weather, including droughts, floods, heatwaves, fiercer storms and sea level rises). So far this decade, every year has been hotter than every year before 1998 (see image below).

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Climate change in graphics: The state of the planet (www.economist.com)

Do the COP21 invitees have an impact on the destiny of our planet? Let me briefly present the proposed situation and you can decide.

According to The Economist, the politicians have set an impossible task which is to persuade developing countries that controlling climate change is more important than, potentially, the economic growth of their country. Heads of state are gathering with what appears to be different agendas. On the one hand those that have been through industrialisation and emerged out the other side, and on the other those who are still experiencing that process. Why should developing countries buy-in to an agenda that suits those that have already experienced this? The argument of the developing world is that there should be a two-fold process: one for those that acknowledge the need to reduce their historical carbon emissions based on their industrialisation experience, and those that are now experiencing such levels of industrialisation. Who is correct?

Now is not the time to be cynical, but to acknowledge the differing economic pressures of the parties involved. Protests are coming exclusively from the developed world, and yet there would possibly be protests from the developing world if these carbon emission restrictions were to be applied across all jurisdictions leading possibly to restrictions on growth, for example power cuts. An answer needs to be found that is satisfactory for all those involved but only the stakeholders in Paris are currently in the position to decide the policies.

So what can we do? How can we influence policy on a global scale and prevent a continued myopic view of the position? Is putting an internationally-accepted price on carbon the answer when the developed world has already taken its fair share? Should we, those who truly care about climate change sit on the side-line awaiting the outcome? Well, yes and no. The real policy-makers in this field are the developed world governments that are voted in by us. We, and those of the populace of the developing world, have a voice and an ability to influence, maybe not the meetings in Paris, but those meetings that follow. We have the ability, as a cross-jurisdictional voting group, to insist that carbon dioxide emissions will shortly reach unsustainable levels, and acknowledge that people, food sources and livelihoods are dying as a result. We that care about such issues have a responsibility to ensure that we at least inform ourselves as to the issues and the implications of doing nothing.

In my next blog I will be looking at how the decisions taken by COP21 impact those of the developing world.

The “unwanted”, EU’s illegal immigrants

November 21, 2015

In the past two weeks media has been awash with stories pertaining to the crisis of asylum seekers who are now in the EU and how to deal with them. The presence of these migrants on European soil and the rising toll of the ones drowning in the Mediterranean Sea has become a political case. This concern saw the EU and African heads of state meeting last week at the Valletta Summit on migration in Malta.

The UK’s Home Secretary, Theresa May is concerned about improving condition in Africa in order to halt Africa to Europe migration. Mrs May had this to say: “We want to work with African countries, the countries of origin, to ensure people don’t feel the need to make this journey to Europe. In the UK we are putting £200 million extra aid into Africa to help ensure we provide the circumstances that that people don’t make this journey.” And the Prime Minister, David Cameron has refused to accept a share of the thousands of immigrants who are now in the EU. EU leaders approved a €1.8 billion (£1.27 billion) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, in return for African help in reducing migration. In response to this European “kindness”, the African government should agree to help by stemming the flow of their people to Europe. _42481600_africa_migration416x355

It is currently reported that there are approximately 1.2 million Illegal immigrants in the EU but there may be more as there are some who manage to remain under the raider. This is indeed a problem for the governments as well as these people as they are vulnerable and have almost no rights or access to what legal citizens have. There is need for a clear review into this situation.

The migration is issue could potentially increase in the near future. Nicholas Cecil, Deputy political editor at the Standard predicts that; “people will be driven to move by a clear set of phenomena: climate change destroying environments; the predicted surge in global population from 6.5 billion to about 11 billion this century the accompanying collapse in social cohesion and governance; and a condition of in several key areas of what is now termed continuous war.” In the light of this, the world needs to wake up to issues concerning practicality and principles of refugee management.

Oxford University Professor Paul Collier reckons that; dealing with this case is a tall order which is however not impossible and failure to manage the crisis will lead to a terrible waste of human lives and talent. Now is the time we all should join hands and start doing something about the illegal immigrants that I have called the “unwanted” as no country is really interested in them.

There are big questions to be asked concerning the EU motion of aid to stop Africa to Europe Migration. These include:

  • Do African countries need financial help in order to stem the flow of immigrants into Europe?
  • To what extent has past aid given to African governments been utilised to assist potential emigrants?
  • How can African governments restrict free movement of their people?
  • Are all African migrants economically motivated?
  • What kind of aid is it anyway?
  • Why not let these people start a new life for themselves away from whatever they have fled?

I believe that, giving aid to African countries in order to stop people crossing the Mediterranean seems too simplistic a solution that fails to address the underlying causes of this “mass migration” of the African population and reasons why people even risk their leaves crossing the sea in makeshift boats.

There are numerous third sector organisations that are working in with asylum seekers, stateless people, and refugees. Would it not make better sense for these rich governments to acquire land in vacant places on earth and through the already established communities among the “unwanted”, NGO’s and interested multilateral agencies establish new habitats for these people? They can be assisted with their capacity building and they can become drivers of their own development and create their own habitat.

A new form of commons can be created where power is not central but shared among all community members. It could be the first place in the modern world that this is done and can indeed be a way to see how people can fashion a life and future that is good enough for them without them being labelled “asylum seekers, stateless people or refugees”. There is enough literature in academia that can assist to drive this great cause forward.

I would be willing to work with these people create a home for themselves and start building their lives afresh. These people have got aspirations, skills, talents and these are not use to anybody in society if they are rounded up like cattle and kept in detention centres which are not too different to prisons.

Instead of aid being poured into existing African governments who have mostly dismally failed to assist their own, why not give immigrants a place to live descent lives? They are human beings after all.

Irish Water Tax – yet another barrier to water

November 24, 2014

Irish water tax - tap

Hello fellow commoners.

This blog sort of relates to what we were discussing in class today and has been in the news recently. So I thought I’d post it here.

The Irish people are facing another barrier to their water access – a resource that should be free and a human right, wouldn’t you agree? The country is experiencing a problem with its water infrastructure. Irish water is being contaminated with bacteria because its out-of-date treatment systems struggle to purify it and people are forced to boil their tap water in order to be able to drink it. You’d think this is the problem the Irish are demonstrating about but in fact it gets worse.

It will cost Ireland €2billion to solve this problem and the government is planning to raise this money through a new water tax. Surprise, surprise…it has already employed a private (!) firm to install water metres in people’s homes in order to measure water usage. In the end the water tax will cost a family of four almost €500 a year, something that many will struggle to afford.

The truth is, however, that people are already paying for the water through general taxes. So essentially they are being charged twice, correct? Already, it costs the Irish government €1.2billion per year to maintain the current water supply, which has always been funded by the Exchequer. So why not continue to fund this new cost through general tax as well?

As the BBC points out “Raising money from water charges was a condition imposed on Ireland by the EU-IMF-ECB Troika as part of the country’s bailout in 2010”. (As an aside, it does make me wonder why they call it the ‘country’s bail out’, as though it was a crisis caused by the general public when it fact it was caused by banks and big companies taking on loans they were not able to meet…but I won’t go into this in detail here.) Nonetheless, these mistakes now have to be paid for by the Irish general public through charging them for the same water again. Something that should be a basic right and not something that can be sold as a commodity…twice. It is yet another example of an enclosure of a resource that should be treated and managed as a common resource, don’t you think?

One point that is more shocking however, is that Ireland continues to help big multinational companies, such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Co., avoid billions of Euros in tax by providing laws that favour them, nicknamed the ‘Double Irish’. Google alone has avoided over €2.5billion worth of tax from 2007-2009 partly through the ‘Double Irish’, which helped reduce Google’s tax to 2.4% compared to the normal 12.5%. Let’s not forget, it ‘only’ takes €2billion to solve the Irish water crisis…

Plus, as if only to frustrate the public more, the government decided to spend €86million on private consultants who advised on the setting up of a state-sponsored company in charge of water….and just so you know, this does not form part of the €2billion calculation.

So yet again, we have a situation where big companies and the financial sector’s gain is prioritised over the common people’s needs and indeed their rights. So what’s to be done about this? Of course, the likes of Google need to be taxed properly first of all but this lies in the hands of the government. With countless demonstrations already having taken place it is clear that the general public do not want this tax to be enforced, so what else could they do?

Irish water tax - demonstrations

Let’s take a look at Greece, who had similar bail-out conditions put on them, and see what they’ve got planned. The Greek have come up with a counter strategy, called ‘Initiative 136’ which calls on the public of Thessaloniki to buy the government’s 40% stake in the water utility (EYATH) of Greece’s second largest city, which it is looking to privatise. ‘136’ symbolises the value of the water company for each citizen. Marioglou, a representative of the movement, explains:

“The Initiative seeks to establish a network of 16 cooperatives in Thessaloniki to manage a truly public company. Because it would be unmanageable to have one large citizen body oversee the city’s entire water works, they will decentralize. Initiative 136’s organisers propose that the neighbourhood cooperatives decide on such issues as water tariffs and an investment budget.”

So here we have a water management institution that seeks to operate on the principles of ‘cooperativism’ and conceives water as a commons not a commodity. This initiative is part of the European Water Movement who endorse the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) for the Right to Water.

Find out more about Initiative 136 here and please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments section below. Do you think it could work in favour of the people?

Irish water tax - cooperative

Sandford Housing Co-op

November 16, 2014

Through my work I recently came across the folk at Sandford Housing Co-op. Forty odd years ago this coop was set up by a bunch of students in Deptford. At a recent Open Day they invited John Hands, one of the instigators, to give a talk (here). This is available on their website. It is well worth listening to, particularly as regards the piece at the end which is to do with how collaboration rather than competition is necessary for ecological sustainability.

Sandford Housing Co-op was part of a BBC documentary in 1974. This is available on You Tube. Part 2 is particularly interesting as they decide whether a house or the membership panel of the whole co-op should have the final say on who is allowed to become a member.

“Jirga” The World’s oldest Common

October 20, 2013

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images 2On hearing the word “Jirga”, the first question that comes to mind is what is Jirga? Well to a common person, Jirga is a “Common” unofficial institution comprised of local, elderly, and influential men in Pukhtoon communities, who undertake dispute resolution, primarily through the process of arbitration. These Pukhtoon communities exist in, north western and western, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas FATA (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Balochistan in Pakistan and in Afghanistan.

To discuss “Jirga System” in Commons blog appeared imperative to me after having an insight to Alinor Ostrom’s principles of Common design. Although these principles lack in their arguments against Enclosures, but provide fair grounds to analyze the characteristic of a community towards its Common pool Recourses (CPR).
– “The term ‘common-pool resource’ refers to a natural or man made resource system that is sufficiently large as to make it costly (but not impossible) to exclude potential beneficiaries from obtaining benefits from its use.” (Ostrom 1990: 30)

In this scenario, Justice Provider or conflict resolution entity, “Jirga”, is complicated to refer as Common pool resource, as one individual’s access to call for justice does not subtract from the right of another person’s access to justice. However, the community safeguards the “Jirga” in the same manner as Ostrom defines the principles for a community to care for its CPR.

I consider “Jirga” as Common. A common, that existed, when there was no government and no state, the people had to develop some sort of ethics to regulate their life. These ethics were born by necessity and turned into traditions, Jirga has sustained in itself for centuries but leaving its history, structure and activities unwritten for outside world.

The basis for Jirga is considered the teachings of Holy Quran, which commands Muslims to Shura (consultation), in the matter of resolving issues of special importance to a community, however this political gathering stems back from times prior to Afghanistan embracing Islam. Jirga has been practiced in Afghanistan for centuries.

The operation of Jirga involves a public session where male members of the community gather to deliberate upon an important issue concerning the whole community. It is social frame of life, to undertake issues between individuals, between communities, and sometimes to address the concern of national and international affairs through verbal communication (Loya Jirga deals with national and international affairs). The Jirga may or may not result in an agreement on the issue, but the process itself leads the parties, including the interveners, to maintain a certain level of formal communication, thus ensuring peace.

Another aspect of Jirga, in compliance to its existent as Common, is the inclusivity of all the members from every social layer of the community. There is very little hierarchy evident in its structure. “Sitting in a circle, Jirga has no president, no secretary or convener. There are no hierarchical positions and required status of the participants. All are equal and everyone has the right to speak and argue, although, regard for the elders is always there without any authoritarianism or privileged rights attached to it. (www.khyber.org/pashtoculture/Jirga/Jirgas.shtml (by Dr. Mumtaz Bangash)

These proceedings of Jirga evidently demonstrate the Ostrom principles of “Clearly defined boundaries- for users,” “Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions” and “Collective-choice arrangements” By the community for the cause of commons.

The principles of “Efficient Monitoring and Graduated sanctions-punishment, fines and sanctions” have also been practiced. when The Jirga passes a judgment after necessary investigation into the dispute. No effort is spared to reconcile the disputing parties. However, if a party declines its verdict, the jirga may resort to punitive measures such as a fine in cash to punish those who violate the decision.

Then the principle of “Nesting of small-scale governance systems within larger governance systems when localized CPRs are part of larger systems” (Layering of governance structures equals the inter-reliance and density of CPR organism) also exist in Jirga. If one of the parties is not satisfied with the verdict and feels that the Jirga has not done justice, they can quote precedents and rules to plead their point and reject the decision. In this scenario, the aggrieved party has the right to bring another Jirga to re-examine the issue. In doing so, the decision given on the third occasion is usually considered final.

Consequently, I believe that the Jirga is “Common” and has ever been the Common resource for quick and inexpensive justice, for the people In Afghanistan and Pakistan, living in the tribal areas, Surrounded by mountains with low government’s influence.

Some argue about whether it is in the interest of Pakistan to have two parallel judicial systems, while others take it as having state within a state challenging the writ of the government. Answers to these questions are far more complicated then they seem. The tribal groups – particularly Pukhtun and Baloch over the years, have been reluctant and sensitive to adopting the western judicial system in practice at the local courts – They also had defied the British writ for almost a century and compelled, that world power to accept in this region, the shariat (Islamic law/code of conduct) and traditions, beside their laws. The tribal territories in Pakistan are still administered under a complex political system.

Beside that there are some general human rights concerns about the use of Jirga, there are some specific issues relating to women’s rights which primarily focus on issues of access, participation, representation, fairness and the use of punishments and practices. The reality is that local leadership in tribal Areas is almost entirely dominated by men. As a result, the Jirga is the main social system which regulates all facets of Pakhtun community-those who control the Jirga control society.
In actuality, it is not the jirga system that allows for abusive practices, but some elders who in recent times have exploited the system either to forcefully impose the Shariah(islamic law), speaking loosely, or to side with a particular party for political gains.

Following the news on bbc, (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23453243) I believe, new “Common”is emerging as “Pakistani women use Jirga to fight for rights”

Further reading

FRESH WATER RESOURCES AND LIVELIHOOD

November 12, 2012

Fresh water is one of the world’s most critical resources, in many areas around the world it is under threat. Some places may be approaching the point of ‘pick water’ and therefore requires conservation effort for this critical resource to be sustained, without damaging the environment, economy and public health. All over the world, an estimated 2.8 billion face water shortages or scarcity by 2025. Local communities are left unable to cope with this challenge as it directly threatens their very livelihood. Fresh water resources have been affected by population growth, global warming, large scale agriculture, industrial manufacturing and waste water disposal. This is evidence of the fact that we are heading for a fresh water crisis.

The industrial use of fresh water resources and the disposal of waste water have been an issue of concern. Industries do not only create increasing competition among water users, waste water from manufacturing industries is a source of environmental pollution. Water pollution and sanitation are issues that are not only affecting the available fresh water sources, but also have huge repercussions for both local communities and the environment.

The Pacific region of Asia has in the last decade emerged as the world’s largest consumer of natural resources including water. In this region the distribution of fresh water resources remains a critical. Changes to global weather pattern and climate change is causing drought and floods in different areas in this region. These changes have cause increase challenges for efficient water resource management, not only for water managers, policy makers and business corporation (industrial and agriculture), but also for local communities whose very survival depends on this resource.

In 1999, Bolivia attempted to privatize water supply under the pretext of improving the management of a critical resource, this action met with stiff resistance that led to a popular uprising in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third largest city. In its efforts to privatize all public enterprises the Bolivian government sold the airline, train service and electricity utility. When the policy was extended to water and sanitation system in Cochabamba, it ignited a water war.

The increase in water tariffs which follows and the combined effect of new legislation eroded local control over water sources that for centuries belong to the community. The uprising, spread over several months, finally forcing the government to terminate the contract. In April, 2000, water privatisation came to an end in Cochabamba city, following the privatisation in 1999.

The Cochabamba water war is not just a Bolivian story, wherever water is privatised, local communities lose control of a vital resource that is critical to their existence. Often this is accompanied by excess price increases to achieve profit targets and a lack of transparency. This raises questions over the wisdom of current initiatives for water privatisation, as promoted by international financial institutions. Community based initiative is therefore required to influence change, for the interest of the community. This is on the assumption that local solution will lead to improve sustainability. Water security is therefore expected to be one of the many global security concerns in the 21st century. The international community must intensify its effort to promote the issue of fresh water security, as part of a global policy.

Promoting ownership through participation in local infrastructure development

December 4, 2011

The local infrastructure in developing countries are considered to be scarce however even the existing ones are often poorly conceived and managed (World Development Report 2001). For local infrastructure investments to be effective and sustainable requires that demand based approach be complemented by supply-side inputs through Involving the local population in planning and management which effectively facilitates ownership and sustainability since people would be motivated to make informed decisions and choices. Participatory decision making provides the “means” to involve the community to own the local infrastructure and this is a challenge in developing countries since key decisions are made by the central ministries on behalf of the local people and often communities learn of a project when they see the work kicking off and many communities have often fallen a victim of forced eviction. The local people also face the challenge of choice of the project since most of these projects are “take-it or leave-it”, and few communities are often willing to turn down a free or heavily subsidized investment.

Community ownership of infrastructure provides good operation and maintenance since it is very difficult to rely on the state to perform timely maintenance of the infrastructure. For instance, it is easier for the community to manage the use and operation of a borehole when they own it by forming a water management committee who are directly responsible for collecting the contribution from the people towards the maintenance and repair in case of breakdown but in a situation where local people are not involved in the process of establishment, few people are always willing to pay for the monthly subscription toward the maintenance of this borehole since they considers it to be for free. Involving the local people in the decision making helps in handling the priority especially of the poor and this also save the country’s budget especially in projects were community are encouraged to share the cost of investment and operation.

However to foster this ownership, we must put the first last (Chambers, 1997) meaning that those who are powerful have to step down, sit, listen and learn from and empower those who are weak and last. This practice also requires that all categories of people in the community be represented that is, male and female, those well represented and those in the minority group. Considering the fact that community comprises of existing social, ethnic, gender, and economic divisions, and unless we understand the question of who constitutes the community and addresses properly, men and local elites within community may dominate decision making and capture the project benefits thereby discouraging other disadvantaged categories from such local investments. This explains the reason why some infrastructure are always found at the home or near village leaders, political party representatives of the village, and the educated elites since they have the capacity to shut other disadvantage groups down. In Sub Saharan African village communities, the preference of men differs from that of women, for instance, men often ask for roads as a priority intervention while women mostly ask for water and this always turn out to be conflicting interests.

Ownership is considered as a function of institutional relationship between communities and service providers but in a situation where infrastructure benefits more than one community such as road linking many communities will rarely be demanded by individuals in the community even if they are needed and such infrastructure is better provided and managed by the state although in consultation with the communities as this avoid the tendency of rising conflict during the utilization and management by the community

Resource custodians and the enemy within against sustainability

November 29, 2011

Rural communities in some third world nations should no longer continue to rely on their leadership to uphold national and international legislations and or agreements in goo faith when it comes to protecting their environment against catastrophic covert ventures aimed at what remains as rain forests. This is more in respect of the timber logging for export by rogue international traders. The practice causes depletion, degradation and other related adverse effects hence making people more critical for sustainability of life.

 Communities must not wait until the problem becomes utterly bare and out of control when this evil is laid bare when the problem at that time will be no where near solution. Waiting to act later will be dangerous and not doing anything now will be extremely costly and the situation will no be turned around. The depletion is occurring at an alarming rate. If people failed to commit themselves to safe guarding their future, there will be a natural calamity. It is time to stand to the double standards of those they trust. The leadership are betraying their people especially in the management of natural resources. A retinue of youths and able bodies should take the necessary action to save the environment.

 In Sierra Leone, the recent documentation by Alzajeera  documentary when foreign journalist posed as international “Timer Trader”  attempted go in the logging business though it was banned. Their crusade went up to the high command and what is more sympathetic is that for less than $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) meant to be paid for the multi million dollars logging business registration.

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Additionally, things are even worst at local community levels where the traditional heads are betrayers of their own people. There is the need for people to be pragmatic and engaged in activities like Wall Street and St. Paul’s Cathedral style of action to put pressure on those who want to destroy their lives, (the rogue custodian of their resources). The communities must demand participation as this inimical to sustainability. National and International policies set so far to address depletion and environmental deterioration are not kept.

Charity Embraces Food and the Commons

November 28, 2011

Edinburgh Cyrenians works in partnership with the Fareshare network to reduce food waste of big corporations and supermarkets.  Diverting food from landfill, Cyrenians Good Food collects food that is near its use by date, sorts it in their small warehouse and re-distributes to organisations working with people in need.

This video presents the Cyrenians Good Food project.

Fareshare were also featured recently on the BBC news.  The report on a collection of charities distributing food in Trafalgar Square, London, highlighted the amount of food that is wasted in the UK.  This is not only bad for the environment, but is extremely wasteful when we here of so many reports of hunger and lack of food n other parts of the world.

Cyrenians also operate two other services connected with food, waste and the environment.  The Cyrenians Farm and Cyrenians COREThe farm operates as a business providing income for the organisation as a social enterprise.  However, the farm is sited within one of their communities that provide accommodation for up to 8 young people and a team of residential volunteers.  Although, residents are not obliged to work on the farm they are encouraged to.  By doing so they learn about food – from how and when it is grown to harvesting and cooking.  The residents then collectively agree menu’s and cook together.

Cyrenians CORE project fills the gap that Good Food leaves.  Taking the food that is passed its useby date or waste from restaurants Core collects this in a large lorry and delivers this to a farm where it is turned into compost.