Monday, 26 September 2011

My week of funemployment in Londontown

Monday – I went to see Paul Collier speak at LSE on the topic of Building Effective States
He presented some food for thought regarding the need to start with building an effective tax system.
I particularly liked his comment about how aid agencies can often lead to more harm than good, which is why throwing money at a problem is hardly a solution. Ever. Agencies such as DFID that focus on the most fragile states reduce the incentive for governments of these fragile states to ever improve their conditions.
His ultimate answer pointed to the necessity of GOOD LEADERSHIP.

Tuesday – Film night at Rich Mix about the global food system
I saw a few really powerful short films about the disaster our current food system is leading us to. Some films also highlighted the plight of many small farmers because of the unfair land grabs that are occurring and the unfair rule of trade that allow the agribusiness to make large profits under the guise of feeding the world’s population and yet a billion people are left hungry..and so many more undernourished

Wednesday – Wilfred Madelung (senior fellow of the IIS) spoke about succession in the Qur’an
He was a bit of a mumbler, but I found the discussion on adoption in religion particularly interesting..

Thursday – Went to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) for the launch of the world disasters report, which focused on hunger and malnutrition
This was very interesting; it was the academic and policy side of the more activist-y event of Tuesday night.
One panelist in particular said that it’s very easy to sloganize from a distance, saying things like “Dismantle the WTO”, but in reality when working on the issues and closer to the issues, there is a tendency to work with these organizations in a more friendly manner, despite knowing the extent of problems they cause
There was also a lot of discussion on politics and power, rather than technical solutions as well as the current famine raging in the Horn of Africa.
And finally “development” in general. – lots of food for thought (no pun intended)
Frustrating and inspiring at the same time. These people seem to understand all the problems, which is good because they are ultimately influencing policy (in theory at least) and yet policies are still failing so many people..

Friday – lunch and great laughts with the few classmates left in London
landed a short-term research assistant position
Research Assistant for a case study examining women’s political participation in Somaliland
Somaliland??! – spent the weekend reading about it

Saturday – Land and freedom camp – discussion on land in clapham common – beautiful park!
Met some people who don’t spend money because they don’t believe in capitalism and therefore do not want to contribute to it. Met a girl travelling to Iran with no money to her name
An outdoor film screening about people living off the land in Britain in the 17th century. Many of the same issues persist today..
Dinner was cooked and served to everyone. Food came largely from skips!
Refreshing in many ways
And then more UCL classmate fun

Sunday – Beautiful day to be outside in Londontown! Caught up with a dear friend, napped in hyde park, covent garden - greenhouse made out of legos, and helped a friend move in to her new residence –new beginnings!

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