Sunday, December 12, 2010

A chart showing the cause of the revolt in the UK

Numbers from UN population division.

Today in 2010 there are living in the UK about 3.6 million more individuals between the ages 40-55 than there were twenty-five years ago, in 1985. If you further compare the years there are 1.1 million fewer people between age 15-24. The number of individuals between 25-39 is about the same.

This is a fundamentally different demographic structure and it has an influence on culture and the way we are governed. This bubble which is now middle aged (20 years ago it was 20-35, or even 20-45 as the baby boom generation in UK was post war to 1970) has over the last thirty years redesigned governing and economic structures to employ more of themselves in high status, high earning leadership roles. As the bubble rose, the institutions expanded with their cumulative desire for high status, wealth and power.

The effect of this is an extraordinarily expensive architecture of transnational institutions and unaccountable political networks and the tab is now being picked up and felt most by students who are expected to pay high £18-27k tuition fees.

To employ more of themselves the baby boom generation has created more ersatz leadership positions which carry little responsibility but a lot of weight in money. They have expanded international institutions, funded non-governmental organizations and set up quangos and regulatory bodies to police business - rules which favour big, high-status, high-earning (for the directors), transnational businesses.

As the chart shows, the most bloated annual cohorts are not expected to retire for another 5-10 years. In this time they will continue to seek to generate more high status, high earning leadership posts so that as many of them as possible can have a cushy desk job, a title and jet-setting lifestyle that requires 'work' attending conferences that are situated within walking distance of a fine tropical beach.

The last thing this ageing but still ambitious generation wants to do is fight. They think they rule the world and want to do that from the comfort of their well-paid chairs. It is however as yet an open question for how long the generations coming through are going to be prepared to subsidise the lifestyles of this old elite.

Unlike in 1985, because of the huge burden of parasitic elites, the economy is not likely to undergo a boom any time soon. The huge number of young people in 1985 had space in which to rise into well-paid positions because there were 3.5 million fewer people in the most powerful 40-55 age group above them.

As such the only way this younger generation can get anywhere is by 1. physically removing the generations above them or 2. by radically "downscaling" power-structures into an anarchic hyper-localism (or both) and allow the transnational and national institutions to "wither on the vine".

Once this generational conflict has been resolved over the next decade there will be a cultural conflict between the rising numbers of immigrant descendants.

There is a similar demographic profile to the UK in other Western states.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Back-of-envelope geopolitical map South East Asia

Pink and green lines are approximation of road links. Red lines are Pakistan-Chinese axis, blue lines Indian-Western axis.

I have India pushing into Central Asia for trade and security purposes, to surround and control Pakistan. A new road has been built from the less-Pashtun north Afghanistan to Iran so India can trade with Afghanistan without going through Pakistan. This road also links Russia with India. Although Russia has military sales agreements with India I have Iran and Russia neutral-ish. The short road from Afghanistan to India through Pakistan is still the more efficient route for Indian trade with Central Asia, particularly for the north of India. China's interest in the region is not getting its supply route dominated by India - hence the new road through the Himalayas to Pakistan.

As you can see from my interpretation Afghanistan is fundamentally split down the middle. Ethnically, as I have suggested before, but also geopolitically.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Obama's Afghan legacy: federalise Pakistan?

Let's recap the state of play in Afghanistan.

Is complete bureaucratic control of all of Afghanistan possible from Kabul? Answer: No.

Is Taliban victory over the Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek north Afghanistan realistic, given their economic and military support from India and the West? Answer: No.

Is a split-state solution between the north and south of Afghanistan achievable and likely to happen? Answer: I no longer think so. But none of the other options look realistic.

The third of the three options took a boost in October 2009 with an apparent change of American strategy: here -
The new American thinking is that what they deem the "nationalist" Afghan Taliban may be divided from its more extreme elements - and also from al-Qaeda, whose cohorts of foreign fighters are interested almost exclusively in jihad against the West.
I'd like to think President Obama had read what I wrote two months earlier in August 2009 (like the bit about "Western diplomats in the Afghan capital no longer enthuse about women's rights, democracy and nation-building"), but my own thoughts were a product of the time even a year before in 2008. I'd gained knowledge of the importance of Pashtun culture reading HBD blogs like Steve Sailer and GNXP.

Anyway, it's worth reading again what the middle ground in this conflict looks like.
The price of an eventual deal could be allowing Taliban governors to take over southern provinces – perhaps Helmand and Kandahar - the imposition of strict religious laws, and allowing former insurgents to take government posts.


Taliban leaders are looking for guarantees of their personal safety from the US, and a removal of the "bounties" placed on the head of their top commanders. They also want a programme for the release of prisoners held at the notorious Bagram US air base in Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay.

In return, he says, the Taliban would promise not to allow Afghanistan to be used to plan attacks on America – the original reason for American invervention, and the overriding aim of US policy in the region.
So as I argued in my article and on EU referendum forums, against a lot of doubters, it seems the Taliban Pashtun may be willing to split from the Arab dominated Al Qaeda terrorist organisation in exchange for power and status they would not get in a Kabul government. 

There, Indian-supported Tajiks like Mohammad Fahim (Panjshir Valley) and Ishmael Khan (Herat) have come to dominate the Afghan government, with non-Pashtun minorities like Hazaaran vice-President Karim Khalili  (Wardak Province). 

Even Pashtun President Hamid Kazai is a divisive figure. Kazai's Duranni tribe gained power because they were willing to trade away government positions to the Tajiks, and other non-Pashtun Afghans. This was something demanded from them by the West but it meant there was little room inside the tent for non-Duranni Pashtuns, and enmity from the Duranni who lost out. 

Where there are substantial numbers of poor Duranni tribesmen, like Helmand Province, the Taliban lean on their cultural ties to gain support for the fight against the non-Pashtun and "traitorous" Pashtun. This is why the Taliban group is a distinctly Pashtun phenomenon rather than Tajik even though the two populations are Sunni Muslim: the Tajik gain out of the government, most Pashtun don't.

Since Pashtun dynasties traditionally have flipped between Ghilzai and the Duranni families the key to security in the Pashtun region is a deal between the Ghilzai, who form the leadership of the Taliban, and the Duranni, of the Afghan government.

The Intra-Pashtun conflict and inter-ethnic conflict with non-Pashtuns in Afghanistan mean that Obama's legacy in the region cannot be anything other than a solution in which all the powerful interest groups can be bought off separately.

A two-state solution could take a number of forms. I don't know at this stage which is more likely. 

1. A sovereign "Pashtun" state which has a seat in the United Nations 

Good: Tajiks, Uzbeks, Haaza get to dominate a state in the north of Afghanistan that has few Pashtuns. Since Pashtuns tend to cause the wars in Afghanistan and run Afghan governments this might lead to moderate levels of economic development. Taliban Pashtun dominated south might again wipe out opium farming.

Bad: Pashtun state has no defined borders. While the vast majority of Pashtuns live in the south and south east, there are pockets in the north. Then there is the question who is going to control Nimruz Province, and the new road to Iran, strategically important for the north because it has reduced their dependency on Pakistani transit.

In 1993 the Durand Line border separating Pakistan from Afghanistan expired after 100 years. A new border would have to be brokered for the new state. Since Pashtuns live well inside Pakistan they might claim Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar inside a new Pashtunistan. Thus Pakistan might block a Pashtun state.

2. Pashtunistan could become part of a devolved Afghan federation in which the Pashtun areas are governed from Kandahar and are responsible for their own police and security. The army would be run from Kabul.

Good: As above. Being essentially two states all groups should get a slice of the pie and cooperation should increase. 

Bad: Pashtuns might not accept a deal without their own army divisions located in the south, staffed by Pashtun officers. There would be the arguments over jurisdiction also noted above, where Pashtuns in non-Pashtun regions would want to rule themselves and vice versa. There may be a Pashtun assault on the north to control the whole of Afghanistan and more ethnic cleansing. This would be fairly easy for the Pashtuns to do, as it has been done before, because the north population is more landlocked than the south (which has close connection with Pakistan).

3. The Pashtun region could be made part of a larger Pakistan

Good: Can't think of anything.

Bad: Still the question of where to draw the border between north and south Afghanistan. Added problem of Pakistani Taliban already fighting the Pakistan government. Thus Pashtun groups would likely oppose Pakistani rule.

I have to say I'm now considering the option that Obama may eventually leave the future of Afghanistan in its past: a random mess.

The only other option I can think of is a federalisation of Pakistan in which Pashtunistan, Baluchistan, Sind and Punjab - there may be others, Bangladesh already lost - all have their own local government within  a Central Asian Republic kind of state. The Pakistani army, which already receives $1bn a year aid from the United States, would be responsible for external security.

In fact, a 2009 paper "Managing Ethnic Diversity and Federalism in Pakistan" by Mohammed Mushtaq argues that Pakistan should be federalised. Maybe that is the only solution to Afghanistan.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Afghan - Indian relations: about China not Pakistan

It is received wisdom that Indian interests in Central Asia are designed to counter-balance Pakistan. All Indian actions must be framed versus Pakistan, whilst the geopolitical elephant in the room China - the other 1 billion population rising global superpower, which has a history of conflict with India - is totally ignored. 

An example of this standard analysis, Jayshree Bajoria of the Council on Foreign Relations writes -
Afghanistan holds strategic importance for India as New Delhi seeks friendly allies in the neighborhood, and because it is a gateway to energy-rich Central Asian states such as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. "India is looking to ensure that other countries in the region favor or at least are neutral on its conflict with Pakistan," says J Alexander Thier, an expert on Afghanistan at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Afghanistan, on the other hand, he says, looks to India as "a potential counterweight in its relationship with Pakistan." 
And so on. But I shouldn't pick on one random Googled individual - how about an entire special issue of a respected International Politics journal?

There are in fact a number of good reasons why India wants to develop an interest in Central Asia irrespective of a conflict with the Pakistani government - which I believe is, aside from rhetoric, as good as finished for now as Pakistani elites become twisted around India's massive economy.

1. Central Asian energy

India is interested in Central Asian energy but only to prop up the Tajik-dominated Afghan government and deny revenue to the Pashtun, not for Indian energy security purposes.

India's actions may suggest it is interested in natural gas from Turkmenistan. India signed a memorandum of understanding for a pipeline that would pass through the problem Pashtun region of southern Afghanistan and Pakistan (Herat-Kandahar-Quetta). As recently as 2008 India, Pakistan and the Afghan government agreed to buy gas from Turkmenistan

But while the southern part of Afghanistan where the proposed trans-Afghan pipeline would be laid is  the flattest piece of land in the region it is also the most politically unstable. It is not a secure source of energy for India for the long-term, or even for Pakistan or anyone else for that matter. For India, there must be the added consideration that the gas must travel through Pakistan, and Pakistan's own secessionist Baluchistan region.

A state which relies on the trans-Afghan pipeline for its gas could easily become dependent on a high-priced, highly unstable source of energy. Another factor against serious Indian interest are the Indian's own relatively healthy domestic energy supplies. India has large reserves of coal which it currently uses for power generation, newly discovered conventional gas fields, and potential for economic unconventional shale gas, and coal bed methane. So while the Indian government might act interested in Central Asian gas it does not seem to be an essential resource for India. 

The pipleline is still important to India in one way: through transit rights. There is $300 million per year up for grabs for whichever Afghan government can control the flow of gas from Turkmenistan. If the Pashtun south controlled the revenue from the pipeline from Kandahar rather than the Tajiks from Kabul the money would prop-up a Taliban type Pashtun regime that does not have strong relations with India, rather than a regime friendly to Tajikistan and India.

2. Strong relations with Tajikistan

Tajiks are culturally closer to Indians than the rural, feuding Afghan Pashtuns. Tajik-Afghanis are urban, business orientated, educated in Indian universities. Tajiks enjoy Indian culture, like Bollywood films and Indian television programmes. Afghan-Indian relations are therefore a euphemism for Indian-Tajik relations as the Tajik community might be expected to gain the most out of the reconstruction projects.

India wants to improve its relations with Tajikistan to use it as a geopolitical stepping stone to out-flank China on its Xingjiang province border. To do this India needs to assist the large Tajik population in northern Afghanistan. India therefore has more interest developing good relations with Tajikistan than with Turkmenistan, and India would also rather be friends with the Tajik population of north Afghanistan than the Pashtun south of Afghanistan. This should be reflected in major aid projects to the region.

Indeed it is. We learn from the first source India has given a $17 million grant to Tajikstan so they can modernise a hydroelectric power plant. We also know India has given $1.2bn in reconstruction aid to Afghanistan since 2001. The largest projects, like the Zaranj-Delaram road connection to Iran, and Salma Dam project near Herat, are all close to sizeable Tajik populations in the Afghan north-west (dark green in the Stratfor map below). 

The road project to Iran (from Herat through Nimruz province) is significant because it offers the more urban Tajiks and Uzbeks another trade route with India and the rest of the world through Iran, rather than Pakistan. The road also brings the sea port to closer for the Herat region than the alternative via the Khyber Pass.  Additionally the BBC article says India are "erecting power transmission lines in the north" which has returned 24 hour electricity to Kabul.

3. Trade economies 

It makes sense for the populous Indian north west (14 million in New Delhi alone) to develop a better trade relationship with Afghanistan - the Tajik north at least. New Delhi is closer to Kabul by road (about 1200km) and air than are Calcutta or Mumbai. A whole swathe of Central Asia including Tajikistan is nearer to the Indian capital than the southern Indian region of Kerela and the city of Chennai. It makes economic sense for the region to become more integrated, such as in the supply of refrigerated fresh fruit and vegetables, and there will always be elites willing to support such moves in return for a slice of the pie. 

4. Out-flanking China

In 1962, 48 years ago, India and China fought a war over their border. This conflict is much forgotten - what with the India-Pakistan Kashmir dispute - but is a much more important motivator for India seeking a special-relationship with Tajiks in Central Asia than conflict with Pakistan.  India also had a major skirmish with China in 1987 in the Indian north-east. Given India's military superiority over Pakistan it is unlikely to lose a war against Pakistan any time soon but it could against China. This makes India's recurrent conflict with China more significant than its conflict with Pakistan. 

The 1962 war is interesting for being a purely land war, fought at high-altitude in the Indian north-west, and being one which India lost.  The war of 1962 was fought primarily over the Aksai Chin Himilayas and the Chinese construction of National Highway 219, a militarily strategic road which connected the two troublesome Western provinces, Tibet and Xingjiang.

While India lost the war for Aksai Chin it still considers this territory part of India. Were India in a position of strength and China one of weakness, Indians might attempt to take it back with force - and prop up anti-Han Chinese independent states in Xingjiang and Tibet. However India might be looking to threaten China even before conflict by providing covert assistance to anti-Han Chinese groups via Tajikistan and the road link into Xingjiang across the border in southern Kyrgyzstan (screen cap from Google maps below). 

At the elite/government level the Pakistan-Indian conflict is much less immediately important than the Sino-Indian conflict. I expect the trade route between Afghanistan and India to be kept open for now. No, I don't expect Pakistan to be an irrelevance as China will eventually lean on Pakistan, and groups in the region, to undermine Indian interests in Central Asia. This could lead to separation of the undeveloped Pashtun part of Afghanistan from the better functioning Tajik-dominated part and the closure of the Kabul-Wagah trade route. 

Received wisdom of the Afghan conflict as a geopolitical tussle between Pakistan and India is therefore not only light-weight, it is wrong as it does not explain current economic cooperation between the two governments (such as the Kabul-Wagah trade route... for now). It also says nothing about India's funding of reconstruction projects which favour Tajik-Afghans. If the Indian interest in Afghanistan was really against Pakistan rather than China there would be more Indian attempts to draw the Pashtuns away from Pakistan. That there do not seem to be such an interest shows the Pakistan-India dispute is less relevant than the India-China one for the continuing Afghan conflict.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ethnic map of Britain

For some reason typing in "ethnic map of Britain" into Google image search doesn't produce an ethnic map of Britain. At least not in the top 100 or so. This is strange since you can Google an ethnic map of somewhere far away, like Afghanistan.

There is one hit, an Independent newspaper headline, for "race map of Britain". That's from 2006 and there are interesting details in the captions, so I'll post it again below. As you can see, the title is a misnomer as 99.9% of the "diversity" is in England.

This map is not quite what I was looking for because a "diversity" map includes Jewish people and no doubt Poles, Irish and other white foreigners. I'd like to know at least the proportion of white to non-white. That map would better show up broad cultural and linguistic differences between Britons.

So the only thing to do was to draw up a map myself. Wikipedia is not the most up to date or accurate source on demographics but it was the quickest and good enough for starters. Here it is that map.

(This is not yet an ethnic map but it's a start.)

Again, like the Independent map diversity is very much an English phenomenon. The regions, counties with long coastlines, hills, the large land areas with low population densities have the lowest concentration of non-white Britons.

Our largest non-white groups, South Asian and Black Britons, are mostly to be found on the flat lands of England, along a SE/NW economic corridor between London and Manchester. The corridor also extends down to East Sussex which may have something to do with the Channel Tunnel and ferry ports, or it could just be because those counties are close to London.

It's pretty startling how the South West, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have got away with so little diversity, all +98% white. I wonder if there is a reason for that?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Afghanistan-Britain-India nexus

David Cameron has visited India and with him half the cabinet and the great and good of British industry and culture. The intention is to increase trade (currently £11bn) and help British ngoligarchs like Tescos and Oxfam get a better foothold in India.

India by 2014 may have an internal market worth £352bn. This would be much less than China's £975bn consumer market in 2008, but a lot of Indians speak English so it's understandable the government of the day up-sticks and moves to Bangalore even if a slice of the Shanghai pie is bigger. In return, India would like Indians to be able to move to Britain to work, learn and use the NHS - that's something not so easy to do with the European Union cap on non-EU migrants.

Nethertheless there is something Britain can do to put India in our gratitude. Help keep the new trade route with north Afghanistan open. India wants to put Tajik north Afghanistan in its geopolitical pocket. This as much to challenge Chinese influence in Central Asia as anything to do with Pakistan - serious Indo-Pak conflict, beyond posturing, being essentially over for now.

Indeed, as the once great power which drew up the lines in the region, the British Commonwealth is arguably a bridge between the two old feuding sub-continent states. Anyhow, now they both possess nuclear weapons, I believe the Indo-Pak elites have also recognised wider war is futile and have decided on putting partisan objectives before national ones. It worked so well in Western Europe.

The British role involves squaddies jumping on IEDs on Afghan roads so the trucks can pass through, or just by hanging around to make an obstacle of themselves to any organised Pashtun move on the more developed north. But you say Pakistan doesn't seem to get anything out of this deal - it's just a "Afghan-Britain-India" nexus,will never happen - not quite. Prediction: Pakistan will be given "Pashtunistan" or a Pashtun state will be created under the wing of Pakistan.


Pakistan will get their "strategic depth".  Indians will be able to develop and advance on Central Asia. British NGO workers will get their paid humanitarian missions holidays indefinitely. British brass will be able to play with their toys and those of north Afghanistan. Big business will get a slice of India. Have I just elucidated the pathway in the state formerly known as Afghanistan by which everyone wins (supposedly)?

The ethnicity map below is from this Stratfor article by the excellent George Friedman (who hasn't yet, to my knowledge, written about the Afghan-Britain-India nexus). There are many available on the net but this one is particularly clear and colourful. 
The Pashtun are coloured orange, Tajik and Uzbek in the north are green and brown respectively. The trade route from Afghanistan to India goes through the Kyber Pass, directly East of Kabul on this map. The Pashtun region being coloured entirely orange glosses over its social complexity. Pashtuns are riven by tribal divisions (e.g. Durrani vs. Ghizai) and by cultural rifts between their few urban settlements, the rural farmers and the Pashtun nomads.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jobs for the girls?

Since there is no civil society in Afghanistan I found it somewhat surprising to find in the directory of development organization the non-state has 174 civil society development organizations. Judging by Afghanistan's neighbours, civil society organizations aren't particularly interested in Central Asia. Why Afghanistan? It might therefore be useful to do a more detailed analysis of what non-governmental organizations (NGOs) there are in Afghanistan and what they stand for.

So I've created an unofficial chart (below) based on my own imperfect categorisation of the different organizations numbered "CSO" (Civil Society Organisation).

The two most nebulous categories are friendship and campaigns. The campaigns section includes landmine organizations and some peace and democracy NGOs, but women's groups have been totalled separately. Friendship included voluntary organizations and ones along the lines of "American Friends of Afghanistan". The Other section contained coordinating meta-NGOs, some which used the word "technical" and some that didn't fit in any of the main categories.

Included in Relief/Aid section are so-called humanitarian organizations like Oxfam and World Vision. The largest aid organizations also have a political agenda. This is that they want to deliver aid in a militarily secure environment, because if they stopped delivering aid people would choose to hold on to their money to give later rather than give it to sit in Oxfam's or whatever's bank account.

The results: I expected more human rights organizations. For example, there appears to be no Amnesty International office in Afghanistan. AI  does qualify as a development organization on other country pages, like Barbados (what an onerous posting that is). Afghanistan must be just way too much of a tough gig.

Afghanistan is awash with generic humanitarian organizations and medical non-governmentals. These are mostly young doctors and middle class university graduates who can't get jobs back in Europe. One reason why middle class Westerners like to fund middle class institutions like relief giving NGOs is because it gives their middle class children, many of whom are daughters, a platform to travel the world that doesn't involve getting shot at.

There's a strong combined showing by women and children, which makes up more than 10% of the total. This isn't much of a surprise as one of the original justifications for being in Afghanistan was to better the lot of the women. A quarter of the seats in the Afghan Parliament are reserved for women even though only 18% of young Afghan women are literate. At the 2010 elections 28% of those elected were female.

The bulk of the educated women in the Afghan parliament likely come from the more literate Afghan ethnic groups, like the Tajiks, who do not oppress their women as much. Tajikis are a non-tribal, urban group who are everywhere, but predominate in the north and west making up about 27% of the Afghan population. Unlike the Pashtun, the Tajiks are an ethnic force for holding Afghanistan together as a post-racial Anglo-Saxon type state but, of course, the Tajiks already have a state called Tajikistan next door.

So on the one hand we have pressure from the Tajik community to keep Afghanistan going as a non-state because it increases their political influence, and on the other we have pressure from the development community to keep Afghanistan going because it provides something for their daughters to do. Is the Afghan war being extended way beyond its demonstrable failure because it provides jobs for the girls?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gorilla, gorilla

I've often wondered if poor states get development help from states, international government organizations (IGOs) and civil society operators (CSOs) because they are poor and need help - like is supposed to happen. Or whether they get aid because they are a good place for global AIDministrators to have a paid holiday on charitable donations. With data from the fascinating directory of development organization I've decided to test whether my cynicism has any factual support.

As wikipedia tells us, development aid is different from humanitarian aid because it is designed to make the recipient country more wealthy over the long haul. The idea is to enable a poor state become rich enough to overcome humanitarian crises on its own and so not need any emergency assistance from foreign taxpayers or donating citizens ever again. Official development assistance (ODA) is usually provided in form of small grants and loans, while non-governmentals often help out with equipment, medical care, expertise in a field of knowledge, teaching and research. Since poor states have the greatest need for all of these things we should find the poorest states have more development organizations than their more wealthy neighbours - assuming there is no war going on.

Caveat: An assumption of mine is that many of the listed CSOs in the directory will be staffed by local administrators who are funded by international donors either directly or through their government which received the funds. I assume further that if these organizations don't have a foreign representative working with them, they or the government department which took the donor's money, will get a visit from a foreign aid coordinator representing the international donor once a year - who would check-in to ensure nobody was getting ripped off. The point I'm making is that if a bunch of money is donated somewhere that will usually entail one or more foreign official paying a visit to see where that money has gone. If international donors don't check up, just hand over the cash then there can be no paid-for holiday for someone. (My data is not so fine grained that I can filter-out the domestic CSOs and just look at international CSOs).

Note on methodology: I've chosen landlocked African states and split them into regional groups based on their closest neighbours and climatic zone. They're in groups because I want to compare like with like. For example, Chad will never have the Victoria Falls so its level of tourism will unlikely ever be comparable to Zambia unless there is a major war there. Its bio-inheritance, from savannah and charismatic megafauna like elephants and cheetahs in the south to Sahara desert in the north, is more similar to its neighbour Niger. African regions also have politics that make cross-regional comparison problematic. For example, the Mugabe Zimbabwe regime has lead to an increase in tourism to Zambia, and the history of genocide in Rwanda and Burundi might be expected to affect those nations.

Central Africa: Central African Republic, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi

With the poor and landlocked Central African states an obvious trend is the number of development organizations increase with population size. We can assume that a major reason why Uganda has over ten times more development organizations and nearly seven times more official development aid than the Central African Republic is because it has a nearly seven times larger population. Uganda has a greater number of poor than the Central African Republic and throw in a more complex development agenda (complicated by such issues as Uganda's south/north Bantu/Nihlotic split) you attract, like flies to a dunghill, many more development organizations.

Uganda's total number of development organizations does however look very high to me - but I can't tell from the chart if it is appropriate for a country of its size. A comparison with Ethiopia, to Uganda's north east, might therefore be revealing. Ethiopia apparently has a population of 88 million, a per capita GDP $400 less than Uganda's, and receives a lot more ODA. Yet at 598, Ethiopia has 271 fewer development organizations than Uganda, whose number of development offices begins to look suspiciously inflated.

Now turn to a comparison of Rwanda and Burundi: again we run into a possible case of development office inflation. Rwanda's population is 19% larger than its neighbour but has two-thirds more development organizations (including finance, training, private sectors etc.) and one third more CSOs, all both no doubt funded in part or whole by Rwanda's 83% fatter ODA budget. Both Burundi and Rwanda have had periods of genocide in recent history and they both have a similar level of infant mortality and HIV infection, so in terms of international pity the two states should be about equal.

Like Ugandans are more wealthy than Ethiopians, so Rwandans are slightly richer (if that word can be used to distinguish two shitpoor states) than Burundi. In 2008 Burundi scored slightly lower (better) on the Freedom House number (Civil liberties + Political Rights) so political oppression is unlikely signficant. You'd expect Rwanda to have a few more development organizations compared to Burundi but Burundi is so incredibly poor and development organizations are supposed to help a country develop, aren't they?

What explains the development organization profile of Uganda vs. Ethiopia and Rwanda vs. Burundi - why do the poorer states not have a higher number of development organizations compared to their comparable neighbours? I suggest Uganda and Rwanda have popular tourist attractions which global tranzis like to visit. International organizations and non-governmental groups are more likely to develop a funding relationship or set up a regional office in a state with a major tourist attraction than one which does not because when the global tranzi goes on work call he or she can take time out to visit - perk of the job, if you like. It only makes sense.

On this matter Uganda has three World Heritage sites, which is five less than Ethiopia's, but one of them is the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to the hugely popular and endangered Mountain Gorilla. Big Ape tourism is one reason Uganda has 500,000 more tourists a year than beautiful Ethiopia. What about Rwanda? You guessed it, there are Mountain Gorillas there too, in Volcanoes National Park. But not in Burundi, which means the latter now lags Rwanda's tourist figures upwards 388%.

South Central Africa: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana

Malawi possesses the largest population, yet despite high infant mortality and elevated levels of HIV infection, and being the second poorest of the states, it is, relatively speaking, the worst off for development organizations. Sure, in this region the competition is very high, with Malawi not being badly off for tourists. But possessing a land area of just over 100 square kilometres it does not have the same potential for safari tourism that its three-seven times larger neighbours can exploit. In 2009 Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana had between 28-36% of their land area protected in environmental law compared to 15% in Malawi.

Excluding the fun Mugabe's having at Zimbabwean's expense (which probably suppresses Zimbabwe's ODA and CSO figures) Malawi would undoubtedly be the poorest of the four states badly in need of the most development organizations. Another telling figure on the chart is the number of IGOs that want to set up office in Malawi - not many. That Malawi posted a comparatively reasonable FH number of 8, compared to Zimbabwe's 13 did not seem to help much. Like Zambia, Zimbabwe possesses half of the Victoria Falls natural wonder. It also possesses a total of five World Heritage sites.

I would guess that the very high HIV infection rate in wealthy Botswana, another excellent development safari holiday destination, accounts for much of its stupendous levels of ODA.

West Central Africa: Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad

Mali, of Timbuktu yore, dominates the development industry in this region whilst being neither the poorest or the largest population. Mali possesses four World Heritage sites (three of them for cultural importance). However, I hear objections the sub-Saharan African state's relative political stability of FH 5 may provide an 'innocent' explanation for the high number of IGOs, CSOs and development assistance, at least compared to its neighbour Burkina Faso, FH 8.

I'm loathe to accept this as an explanation. We know from Zimbabwe's high level of development organization that a very oppressive state does not always deter the committed development tourist, so a mere 3 points on the FH scale between Mali and Burkina Faso isn't going to matter. The four World Heritage sites must richly appeal to the tranzi's sense of non-Western civilization. The preference for providing aid to Mali could only be motivated by tourism. Mali and Burkina Faso both have charismatic mega-fauna, like hippopotamus, giraffe and elephant, but Mali has the Timbuktu too.

Further east into Niger, the Second Taureg Rebellion and a habit of tourists going missing might explain why Niger, which has the same level of population as Burkina Faso, is not yet challenging in the big fauna tourism market. Given the political instability in Niger and attacks on foreigners the state's lower numbers of development organization and ODA cannot be a surprise. Chad is the wealthiest, least populous, and has the most oppressive government of the four. This might explain why it's per capita number of development organizations sits closer to Niger than Mali and Burkina Faso. There's not much to visit in Chad that cannot be seen somewhere better, so Chad ends up with fewer IGOs than Botswana.

Southern Africa: Lesotho and Swaziland

The last case study is a very clear example of development tourism. The richer, more oppressive state with smaller population has come to possess the greater number of development organization (the amount of ODA though is weighted heavily in favour of the more populous, freer state). Does the International Baby-Food Action Network really have to have a base in Swaziland and not in Lesotho where there is an equally serious problem of child mortality (and presumably more babies dying)?

Sources: TOT 1-9 | POP (M) | GDP p/c ($) | ODA ($) | FH# 2008 | HIV | INF. M | Tourists 1/2 |

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Not all cleaner fish

If it achieves nothing else, the presence of Western forces in Afghanistan will continue to provide employment for countless transnational hangers-on (see 1 and 6).

Two poor Central Asian states. Two different development profiles.

1. International Organizations
2. Government Institutions
3. Private Sector
4. Finance Institutions
5. Training and Research
6. Civil Society
7. Consultancy
8. Information
9. Grantmakers

Source: Directory of Development Organizations.

In terms of natural resources, Uzbekistan has decent reserves of natural gas which might explain its higher GDP but Afghanistan has huge mineral resources

Uzbekistan's advantage really is that it has a cooperation bonus as a functioning state: the largest ethnic group within its boundaries makes up 80% of the population, compared to 40% in Afghanistan. 

No amount of transnational busy-bodies with guns and/or clip-boards is going to put Afghanistan together. The best chance of stability in the region is a split-state solution, which leaves ethnic groups the majority in their own states. 

But if there were actually a balance of power in the region the tranzis might have to go home. But now they have their feet on the ground, how hard is that going to be?