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Hi Tim, Thanks for your e-mail, and for the points raised in it. Before discussing specific comments that have been made in this exchange, I want to note a general difficulty: all of us, myself included, are trying to assess the state of Iraq's economy on the basis of anecdote. The reason that we have national statistics is precisely because anecdote is an unreliable guide to these sort of aggregate indicators. Nevertheless, in the absence of proper data, this is the best that we can do. > "People were penniless and the government strictly rationed milk > and sugar to ensure that the country's embargoed food supplies > covered necessities. But those days are past." > > How about some evidence? Is not the government still rationing > food? Has the nutritional status of Iraqi children improved? > Colin, you say the ration is "adequate".Why then are such a high > number of children chronically malnourished, if not because > sanctions, in one form or another continue to starve and kill. > What's an "adequate" level of death from sanctions? It's certainly the case that, under 'oil for food' nutritional intake has increased. Indeed, one of the reasons that the Iraqi government returned to negotiations seems to be that it realised that it could not 'tough out' the sanctions: its ability to provide a food ration had declined substantially. OFF increased the income available to do so, and that has helped to stabilise the nutritional situation. Yes, the food ration continues to be distributed and, yes, the general sense is that it represents a considerable share of household's monthly income. On the ration's adequacy, my posting yesterday may have been careless. I wrote, "One of them wants to slap journalists who ask why people are complaining, given that the ration is adequate." Perhaps I should have written, "One of them wants to slap journalists who ask why people are complaining, given that the journalists perceive the ration to be roughly adequate." The last update on the ration that I've seen from the UN was in the Phase X 150 day report from last November (see http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/background/reports/s2001-1089.pdf): <begins> 38. The prevailing socio -economic conditions do not allow a large portion of the Iraqi population to adequately complement the food basket, although the prices of food basket commodities have generally remained stable during the reporting period. Even though the distribution plans from phases VIII to X correspond approximately to the recommendation, contained in my supplementary report submitted to the Security Council in February 1998 (S/1998/90, para. 31), of 2,463 kilocalories and 63.6 grams of protein per person per day, the food ration distributed during the period provided only 2,229 kilocalories and 50.48 grams of protein per person per day. <ends> I don't have any insight into why the government's ration is less than what it has planned for in the distribution plans. This has been the case for some time, though. More generally, though, kilocalories do not equal wellbeing. (See, for example, the WFP/FAO's September 2000 assessment, which raises concerns about adult obesity in Iraq: http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/iraqnutrition.pdf) Even at the most basic level of life or death health depends on more than just kilocalories. As Tun Myat, the director of the UN's humanitarian programme in Iraq, put it last November in New York: "The biggest killer of children is not lack of food or medicine but of water and sanitation - clean water and sanitation are absolutely necessary for the children of the country". Humanitarian staff that I speak to in Iraq consistently stress the complexity of public health. While Myat doesn't mention it in his briefing, it seems to be the case that the Iraqi government has largely abandoned the targeted nutrition programme that began some years ago. When infants contract diarrhoea, especially in the summer, they need very rapid medical intervention to keep from dying. The Iraqi government has largely failed to provide this, in part because it seems to have removed control over the nutrition programme from grass-roots level health agencies and placed it under the centralised control of an institutute established in the 1980s to deal with obesity. And, of course, being human means more than just surviving; I think that the failure to recognise this is what angered the aid official to whom I referred to in my previous e-mail. > "the country's resurgence". If this rings true to you then please > explain to me what it means. In the context of what sanctions > have done to the country this phrase seems to me an obscenity. > > "the growing prosperity". If this is correct - if there IS > growing prosperity - is it for the majority or the minority? This > is not a trivial question. I don't want to defend every phrase in the Washington Post article, both because it's not my article and because I don't see this as productive. The facts seem to be: Iraq continues to suffer under sanctions, but some visible improvements are occurring, and in part because some Iraqis are refusing to be defeated by the sanctions. These improvements seem to be most evident in Baghdad, but even there they benefit some much more than they do others. Best, Colin Rowat work | Room 406, Department of Economics | The University of Birmingham | Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK | web.bham.ac.uk/c.rowat | (+44/0) 121 414 3754 | (+44/0) 121 414 7377 (fax) | firstname.lastname@example.org personal | (+44/0) 7768 056 984 (mobile) | (+44/0) 7092 378 517 (fax) | (707) 221 3672 (US fax) | email@example.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk