The Economist's Tale: A Consultant Encounters Hunger and the World Bank

The Economist's Tale: A Consultant Encounters Hunger and the World Bank

Peter Griffiths

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 184277185X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


What really happens when the World Bank imposes its policies on a country? This is an insider's view of one aid-made crisis. Peter Griffiths was at the interface between government and the Bank. In this day-by-day account of a mission he undertook in Sierra Leone in 1986, he tells the story of how the World Bank, obsessed with the free market, imposed a secret agreement on the government, banning all government food imports or subsidies. This is a rare and important portrait of the aid world which insiders will recognize, but of which the general public seldom gets a glimpse.

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hours one Friday afternoon. We have had to put away all the electric typewriters and buy any old manuals we could obtain. ‘We keep our ministry computer at our office in Tower Hill, because they have electricity all the time. They have to have electricity there all the time, because they are next to the army’s magazine. The ammunition and the explosives have to be kept air-conditioned. There is only one other part of the city where there is usually electricity, and that is on the eastern side of

saved because he realized just in time that a white man was not likely to be a burglar trying to kill him. ‘But what really annoys me is the pretence,’ he continued. ‘I know that they work somewhere else during the day and they are going to sleep half the night. I keep telling them to sleep from 6 p.m. to midnight, so they can stay awake after midnight, and guard me when I am asleep, but will they, hell? They must pretend that they do not have another job, and that they are going to stay awake

Permanent Secretaries contradicting a statement in my report and telling me firmly that all the roads in Zambia are tarred now, and there are no dirt roads left. Fortunately, the Director of the Roads Department stepped in and told him that only the main trunk roads were tarred. I know that I learn a lot from talking to farmers working in fields beside the road, from wandering around the roadside markets, and from talking to people queuing at the village rice mill. Some researchers get snotty

woman from the estate agents came to my house with the contract for the renewal. And amn’t I after paying her one year’s rent, $2,500, in cash. Well, she took the money and has not been seen since. The estate agents fired her three months ago, so they tell me. ‘Now the estate agents want me to pay up. It seems that rentals have shot up in the last three years, so they now want $5,000 a year. I have to pay it because it would take me forever to find a flat as good as the one I have.’ I lent

coordinator, you see. It is a voluntary job for one of the senior expats. There is one in every country, but we try to keep it quiet. If there is a coup and it gets out of hand, I have to organize evacuation. I have a high-powered radio at home which links me to the US South Atlantic Fleet. They’re the lads who will get us out, I’d say. In other countries, it may be the Brits or the Russians. ‘We don’t leave through the port. We leave from the beach outside the tourist hotels, as it is far

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