This from Felicity Lawrence, writing in today’s Guardian (Dec 11) about the launch of a new report from War on Want – Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming the Global Food System
She quotes War on Want’s director, John Hilary:
“With its budget rising and DfID staff numbers declining, the department is now channelling vast sums to private investment companies. But outsourcing the aid budget to the private sector will do little to reduce poverty. In fact DfID-funded expansion of corporate control over agriculture in Africa is a sure way of increasing long-term vulnerability.”
Lawrence then goes on to say: ”The department has spent £102.5m to date on the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), set up in 2002 under the Labour government and registered in Mauritius, to attract private investors looking to make profits from construction and infrastructure projects in Africa in agribusiness, water, energy and transport. A further £100m is committed up to 2015. The EAIF is managed by a company that is also incorporated in Mauritius, Frontier Markets Fund Managers Ltd, although both the fund and the management company are run by staff in London.
EAIF in turn receives equity from another major vehicle set up with DfID money, the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) and its trust, also established in Mauritius.
War on Want also attacks the government for using aid to promote the commercial interests of some of the world’s most profitable food, drink and agrochemical corporations.
The report says that DfID-sponsored programmes which have funded projects in Africa and Asia with multinationals include the alcohol companies Diageo and SABMiller and the food giant Unilever. It also tracks support for initiatives to develop sales networks for agrochemical companies such as Syngenta and Monsanto. DfID is, for example, set to contribute £395m to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, an initiative that involves 45 of the largest multinational corporations investing $3bn (£1.86bn) in African agriculture.
War on Want argues that the model of aid now being promoted by DfID in Africa has been shown to marginalise small and medium farmers in Latin America and India while promoting agribusiness.