Development NGO accountability? (fwd)

Victor Guest vic at
Sun Jan 4 12:56:53 EST 1998

To: Recipients of CHRM-GENERAL <chrm-general at>
Message-ID: <34AF0681.22933D27 at>

Hi Ken,
Interesting concept. Lord knows a great deal of damage has been done due to
"development". I doubt a court case would get far, but it would sure create
some attention, and maybe wake a few people up.

kenn at wrote:

Permies may also have some ideas on this. Funding a challenge may be a 
challenge as well.

Possible groups to get onside with could be.
1. Permaculture
2. Aust New Zealand Society for Enviromental Economics.
3. HM
4. Organic Growers Assoc
5. Bio-Dynamics.
6. SOMA/ Orthomolecular Doctors.
7. ?

> Not strictly a CHRM question, but subscribers of this list may be
> interested and have some ideas on this:
> I was wondering whether anyone had any views/experience on the idea and
> practicality of making development agencies, governmental and
> non-governmental (NGO's) in the developing world accountable for their
> actions,  for many of their so-called agricultural improvements.
> E.g. Notifying them that if they initiate a potentially detrimental scheme,
>  warning them of the long term consequences, and that if they persist and
> the consequences do turn out be negative, then they will face legal action.
>  E.g.  irrigation and salinization and river depletion - and the human
> cost.  Same for fertilizer and soil erosion.  Same for boreholes and the
> lowering of  water-tables below root level and the massive dependance
> (agricultural "development") created on very limited fossil water.  Same
> for high yield and some "alternative" crops and their vulnerability to the
> weather and disease.  Same for inapropriate maize agriculture in sem-arid
> areas.   Etc. etc.
> Likewise for legal action against them for past actions.  Particularly as
> they (E.g. Oxfam, CAFOD, Christian Aid, et al.) are often quick to blame
> multi-nationals, governments, the IMF (when actually it is the development
> agencies who have created this dependance of poor people on the vagaries of
> world trade in the first place!) etc. for creating and exacerbating
> poverty, yet do not seem to be accountable for the actions that have
> exactly the same human consequences - the degradation of natural resources
> and the resulting poverty and conflict (which ironically is then seen as
> underdevelopment!).  And if population growth (created by such
> "agriculutural development") is not a problem according to these agencies
> (I have statements from most of them on this) then it that case it must be
> their direct policies (the "agricultural development") that are responsible
> in that case(for the resource degradation and poverty)!
> I am seriously thinking of bringing a private prosecution against some of
> them.  For years environmentalists etc have been warning of the
> consequences of taking the land beyond it's carrying capacity, of the
> problems of degradation of natural resources such as the soil through  the
> use of fertlisers. etc. and the the move of people off the land into the
> slums of the towns.  Now that this has happened, (through the destruction
> of the soil) in places like Rwanda, Kenya and Haiti,  with disasterous
> human consequences.   It is not as if there is no alternative to this kind
> of development.  Education as to the value of conserving natural resources
> has been  very successful in the Indian state of Kerala.  Am I being
> relatistic about initiating legal action at some point (can't afford it
> right now) on such issues?
> Any chrm-general views on this?
> Regards,
> Kenn
> K.H. von Kaufmann,
> 2 Hamilton House,
> High Park Road,
> Kew, Richmond,
> Surrey,
> TW9 4BJ
> UK
> Tel:(0181) 878 2055.
> kenn at

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