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April 15, 2008


Alexandra Palace

I came across your blog on Jeff Gaulin's media job board, and I've been enjoying learning about Kenya through your eyes. I'm especially interested in this "global food shortage," which was splashed across the front page of Canada's largest newspaper this weekend but has apparently been in the offing for months.

I recently finished a reporting contract in the Dominican Republic, and had the opportunity to travel to Haiti, where all of the factors Warah listed in the editorial were in place.

Haiti (unemployment roughly 70%, according to conservative estimates) had already been in a political and economic deadlock with the D.R. over an outbreak of bird flu that led to both countries implementing sweeping bans on imported produce (poultry at first, but soon, out of spite, grain and some types of fruit and veg). The government was cautiously optimistic about their hold on power and working very hard to accomplish as much as possible before the other shoe dropped. They seemed to anticipate then that if the country was going to reach another crisis point, it would be over food, but they had gambled that the D.R. would come out the economic loser in the bird flu debacle. (It was a good gamble, to be fair; the D.R. had already taken a huge hit to their agricultural sector in November with Tropical Storm Noel.)

Then the price of imported rice doubled, and the situation exploded - people rioting in the streets, UN patrol forces cracking down. And the opportunistic political opposition has seized their moment to further destabilize the government. It will likely fall within a matter of weeks - again. It's an absolutely incomprehensible tragedy.

I'll be following your analysis of the Kenyan situation with interest.

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