Sunday, September 22, 2013

Famine and poverty are a result of poor governance, not overpopulation - Telegraph

Some of the most densely populated places are among the richest
SIR – Sir David Attenborough blames famine in parts of the world on over-population (report, September 18). But this cannot be. Some of the most densely populated places (Hong Kong or London for example) are also among the richest. Some of the driest places (California or Saudi Arabia) again are among the richest, and the inhabitants, despite their numbers, are not dying of thirst.
The only conclusion which can be drawn about poverty is that it is caused by governments, and not by the size of the population.
Roger Merryweather 
Stroud, Gloucestershire
SIR – We would like to thank Sir David Attenborough for his recent interest in Ethiopia but his comments about famine in Ethiopia and “too many people for too little piece of land” (Comment, September 19) are somewhat outdated.
Ethiopia has undergone a significant political and social transformation, achieving food self-sufficiency and double digit economic growth for the past 10 years.
Africa has vast tracts of arable land sufficient to feed itself and the rest of the world. Specifically, Ethiopia has 76 million hectares suitable for agriculture, of which only 17 million hectares have so far been used. It also has an abundant water supply for irrigation. Population growth control is a key element of Ethiopia’s current five-year Growth and Transformation Plan. This is being addressed through family planning and the empowerment of women and girls through education and health-sector programmes.
I would like to invite Sir David to visit Ethiopia, so that he may witness this transformation for himself. The issue is not sending “bags of flour”, but helping Ethiopia to achieve full sustainable development through the promotion of trade and investment.
Berhanu Kebede
Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK
London SW7
SIR – Sir David Attenborough is right to be concerned about threats to Africa’s ability to feed itself. Backed by £400 million of British aid, the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is forcing African governments to adopt policies that make it easier for foreigners to take over agricultural land, much of which will be used for the production of biofuel or other export crops.
But if his concerns are really about too many people and too little land, his attention should be focused nearer to home: Europe’s population relative to its land area is more than double that of Africa’s. Our consumption levels are only made possible by the ongoing extraction of agricultural and other raw materials from developing countries.
Allowing Africa to feed its own people, rather than greedy Western markets, would make “barmy” food aid redundant.
Nick Dearden 
Director, World Development Movement
London SW9
Free school meals
SIR – Instead of restricting free school meals to children under eight (report, September 18), would it not make more sense to subsidise school meals for all children? Over-eights are just as much in need of a hot meal in the middle of the day to aid their ability to learn. Promoting healthy eating without the diversion of television would surely benefit everyone.
Helen Webster
Woking, Surrey
SIR – A free school meal gives an opportunity for teachers to observe children eating and question parents about any ravenous eating or lack of eating from a child. At the very least, the policy may be one small step towards spotting this type of child abuse.
Janet Apps
Pinner, Middlesex
SIR – Not all primary schools have a kitchen large enough to prepare meals, and who would pay for the extra staff needed to cook, serve and supervise?
Carol Day
Alton, Hampshire
Banning the veil
SIR – Should the state be licensed to force a parent to send their child out of the house dressed in a manner that the parent considers immodest? To put the state in such a totalitarian position not only undermines the authority of parents, but is against the British tradition of liberty. If this issue were not associated in the public perception with a minority “religion” as distinct from “custom and culture”, Jeremy Browne MP would not have proposed it for debate (report, September 16).
We value our reputation for tolerance and diversity; let us not join France in becoming a narrow-minded “majority rule means uniformity” (everybody has to look like us) type of society.
David McManus 
Godalming, Surrey
SIR – Not so long ago, during a hospital visit, David Cameron was reprimanded by a doctor for wearing a tie and made to roll up his shirt sleeves. Surely, a loose veil or a flowing burka poses an even more unacceptable risk of cross-contamination.
Stefan Reszczynski
Margate, Kent
British-only prizes
SIR – Opening the Booker Prize to authors from the whole world (report, September 19) leaves us British without a prize of our own. Wouldn’t it be better if British publishers, agents, retailers and authors got their act together and organised some awards – The Book Brits, perhaps?
Categories might include best thriller, best romance, best fantasy, best literary fiction plus an overall novel of the year. A best celebrity author award would help secure essential television coverage.
Who knows, we professional authors might even sell some books.
David Thomas, aka Tom Cain 
Chichester, West Sussex
Be careful Boris
SIR – Boris Johnson should be careful of allusive comparisons, especially maritime examples (“Boris hails UK economy’s 'Costa Concordia moment’”, report, September 19). In 1987, following the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise and the loss of nearly 200 lives, Nicholas Ridley, the environment secretary, caused uproar by remarking that he would not be pursuing a particular policy “with the bow doors open”.
Robert Vincent 
Wildhern, Hampshire
Hunting ban backfires
SIR – As Peter Oborne points out (Comment, September 17), the unintended consequences of the fox hunting ban have included more foxes dying by shooting and poisoning and a displacement of foxes from the countryside to the city. These migrant foxes enjoy a plentiful supply of food and have nothing to interrupt their opportunistic scavenging.
Another consequence of this law was the encouragement it gave to animal rights extremists. Emboldened by the ban, they have now broadened their remit to include stopping the Government’s proportionate and humane badger cull, using the same sinister tactics and caring little for the consequences for Britain’s hard-pressed beef and dairy farmers and the devastating effects of TB on the animals they tend to.
Philip Donnelly
Chairman, Hunting Association of Ireland
Clane, Co Kildare, Ireland
Not all the news
SIR – Nora Jackson (Letters, September 19) is wrong – the news is the news and is factual. Rape happens, pornography exists, and sadly, paedophiles roam our streets.
Children need to be exposed to the harsh realities of this cruel and wicked world in order to understand the environment in which they are growing up.
Cossetting them in a bubble leaves them in for a nasty surprise when they mature into adults – only to find out the world is not the fairytale place they had been led to believe it might be.
Alan Reynolds 
Sudbury, Suffolk
SIR – I edited the Early Evening News and the News at Ten at ITN for many years. On the Early, we were acutely aware that younger viewers would be watching and went to considerable lengths to make sure that details that might cause distress to them were severely restricted. Nor was there a free-for-all on the News at Ten. Although we showed and said more, good taste was paramount. Perhaps Nora Jackson is watching the wrong channels.
Philip Moger
East Preston, West Sussex
Dull days
SIR – My schoolboy diaries had the acronym NUHT written against most days.It stood for Nothing Unusual Happened Today, and I’m afraid my diary would be much the same now.
Kevin Platt
Walsall, Staffordshire
Drunk and disorderly – or drunk and incapable?
SIR – Prior to the introduction of the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) most police stations had drunk tanks.
PACE put an end to this practice, giving detained persons obligatory rights on arrival in the charge room, renamed the “custody suite”. No longer could station sergeants simply put drunks in the drunk tank and discharge them at 5am.
In the current politically correct era, distinguishing between prisoners who are drunk and disorderly and those who are merely drunk and incapable, and therefore not qualifying for protection from PACE, could lead to very serious unintended consequences.
David Griffiths 
Bromley, Kent
SIR – Drunk tanks are certainly a good start, provided that someone can decide who belongs there and who, in case of serious alcohol poisoning, would be better off in A&E.
Roger West
Appenzell, Switzerland
SIR – It would be unlawful for the police to visit pubs and “arrest bar staff and people buying drinks for their drunken friends” (Letters, September 19).
When I became a London policeman in 1965, such visits to licensed premises were the norm. They enabled the police to control general drunkenness and ensure alcohol was not sold to those who were underage. However in the early Eighties, judges decided that such visits were unlawful unless the police had good grounds for believing offences were being committed prior to their entry.
So much for Sections 141 and 142 of the 2003 Licensing Act.
P A Feltham
Epsom, Surrey
SIR – There needs to be a campaign in the media to emphasise the dangers of binge drinking and convince the public that “having a good time” does not equate with “getting drunk”.
John Talman 
East Bergholt, Suffolk

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