Friday, October 20, 2006

nobel peace prize, bangladesh and global warming

i've been reading about the nobel peace prize winner mohammad yunus. in case you didn't know, dr. yunus started the grameen bank, a bank for the poor in bangladesh. he pushed the idea of microcredit. i actually saw him give a talk a while back, and it was very inspiring. here are some quotes from speeches he's given:

We believe that poverty does not belong to a civilized
human society. It belongs to museums.

...

All human beings have an innate skill - survival skill. The
fact that poor are still alive is a proof of their ability
to survive. We do not need to teach them how to survive.
They know this already.

--Dr. Mohammad Yunus

i was reminded of this because of the startling thing larry brilliant said about global warming when speaking at berkeley months back. he lauded dr. yunus' work but stated that it could literally be washed away by the rising sea levels due to global warming. the picture below gives a sense of this scary possibility. follow this link for more.

2 comments:

James said...

I'm a big fan of micro-financing. There's a lot of debate these days, not necessarily on the merits of micro-financing, but whether or not micro-financing is THE solution to world poverty.

I tend to think that it is. First world countries tend to be very arrogant, and believe that they know how best to spend money on behalf of the Third World. I think if you're a poor farmer in Ghana, you know exactly what you need, and loans of $20 to you is the right amount to the right person. We can't expect to extract people out of poverty over night, and it's going to have to be a slow but steady, bottom up process. We still need emergency aid for things like medical supplies and in times of natural disaster, but emergency aid can never serve as a permanent solution.

And yes, global warming fucks over Bangladesh. But I do enjoy the nice warm late October days here in Berkeley. So... you have winners and you have losers :p

omar said...

james,

hmm microfinance is certainly one part of the solution, but there are other basic parts.. consider this problem:

i remember seeing this presentation about maintaining a public good, namely a well, in an impoverished town in africa. in a typical scenario, the world bank would give money to the town to build the well. then they would evaluate the effectiveness of the well year after year.

now, the well certainly helped the town, but the townspeople did a horrible job of maintaining the well. they wouldn't put in the proper repairs, etc.. even though they did have the time and money to do it.

so the well would become unusable after a number of years.

the alternative solution, which appears to work, but is very different, is to endow a well. namely, give enough money to make the well AND maintain the well.

anyway just a thought...

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