Locked latrines, meat offsetting and development apps

latrineWest Africa came upon a beautiful new row of shiny latrines. Padlocked. Why? ‘We wanted to keep them clean.’ Nice output (latrines) shame about the outcome (health). In the Middle East we are doing some fascinating research on men and boys, and their attitudes to women’s rights and violence against women. What power are men willing to give up? Generally, no problems with women getting an education or a job, but complete opposition to adultery (by women, that is) or going out without permission – a man has to know at all times where his wife is. And two surprises – men don’t necessarily make better interviewers of other men, and violence often begins with mothers (not fathers) beating their sons. And two whacky ideas: cowsWe know that carnivores emit more carbon (loads more grain needed to produce a kilogram of beef than a kilo of, ermm, grain) and that levels of meat consumption are far greater in the rich countries. But vegetarianism by decree is never going to fly. Obvious solution? Meat offsetting. If I want a steak, I need to compensate someone in a developing country who is going to suffer the consequences, and probably eats a lot less meat than I do. And as iPhones or similar 3 and 4G gizmos (I’m vague on the details) spread across the developing world, what would an Oxfam app look like? GPS tools for small farmers to help them reduce fertilizer or pesticide use? Ushahidi-style crowd sourcing for activists? All suggestions welcome.]]>

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2 Responses to “Locked latrines, meat offsetting and development apps”
  1. It’s striking, too, how climate change has dropped off the agenda in rich countries, isn’t it? All that talk and money has resulted in countless development programmes, changes in developing country government policy and far too little change (or even debate) in the formal politics of rich countries. It’s as if climate change has killed off the urgency of tackling questions such as water and energy use in the post-industrial world. Bring on the MDGs for the top billion proposed in today’s post: things people have to do, rather than ask for.

  2. Nicholas Colloff

    The surprise at women as the instigators of violence against their children, especially their sons, is surprising. It is axiomatic in feminist revisions of Freud that women in ‘confined social spaces’ invest all their ambitions/hopes in their sons’ fuure prospects. They, thus, both potentially suffocate and spur them on: a dynamic in which violence born of frustration is a real possibility. Dorothy Dinnerstein (in The Mermaid and the Minotaur) and Clara Thompson are both good on this.