Saturday, 6 February 2010

Christian Aid -‘Ghana: slave trade to trade slaves’

“In Ghana, as in many developing countries, 70% of people earn their living from agriculture. Unfair trade rules forced on poor countries by the World Bank and IMF are having a disastrous effect on local farmers and are putting many of them out of business.”

“In the 21st Century rich countries and financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank exert enormous control over the economies of poor countries like Ghana. Instead of being a means by which countries could work their way out of poverty, international trade works against the interests of poor communities.”

“People migrate from the grinding poverty of the north hoping for work and a new life in the cities of the south. What they find, however, is far from streets paved with gold. Some may be lucky and find low paid work in factories while others hustle their international wares in the cities market stalls - tomato paste from Italy, British chicken or American rice. They soon discover their small profits are not enough to pay for a roof over their heads in the city slums or for water bought from the local pumps.”

'I used to own a tomato farm but I couldn’t feed my family' says Kofi Eliasa who couldn’t make a living competing with cheaper European tomato imports flooding local markets. As a result Kofi often has to work a 12 hour day in the searing heat breaking stones in a quarry for less than a £1 a day to help feed his family.”

“International trade is worth $10 million a minute but poor countries only account for 0.4% of this trade. According to UN estimates developing countries lose $1.3bn every day due to unfair trade rules.”

“What many of the slum dwellers don’t know is that the World Bank and IMF encouraged Ghana to privatise their public services in return for loans. The privatisation of water led to higher prices and made accessibility for poor people even more limited.”

“With no prospects of employment or income some survive, but risk their health, by scavenging for food, or things they can sell, on the stinking city rubbish dumps.”

“The Ghanaian government has been forced to open its markets to cheap foreign goods, and to stop giving support to its own farmers, in return for loans, aid and debt relief from the rich world. This means local farmers struggle to sell their produce and they are angry.” [Photos and text courtesy of]

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