Tuesday, March 27, 2007


People from every walk of life in Grenada were represented in the crowd that came to see world famous South African performer Lucky Dube live at Moonlight City on Sunday. Lucky Dube’s performance in Grenada was part of a world tour to launch his new album, “Respect” which features music every bit as magical as his previous albums. The inspiring music captured the audience as they swayed, sang and danced along with Dube and his incredibly talented performance troupe.
There is something special about a performer like Dube that goes far beyond a good album or a well attended concert. It is the same kind of special that has been found in other musical legends who have been able to create music that spans generations and cultures across the globe. Performers like John Lennon, Bob Marley and Dube have something in common: Their music tends to be about things that matter. When music matters it can shape the world, such as John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” and Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier”, raising the consciousness of people all over the world.
Music that is inspired inspires others; and thus is capable of touching the souls of people across the globe. For Dube, the source of that inspiration likely stems from the life experience of someone who has lifted himself out of poverty and made his dreams come true, as shared in one of the tracks of his new album titled, Touch Your Dream. For Dube, anything is possible if you hold onto your dreams, and his own life story entitles him to preach to others through is music.
He is man whose faith guides him. ‘I only worship the All Mighty, through his prophets I have learned to give respect to everything he created” and although a world famous Rastafarian, he is a man who does not drink, smoke, or consume marijuana. In fact, the societal problems the world faces today are an obvious source of musical passion and a vehicle for Dube to express things he cares about. Dube wants, “To be living in a world where there are no homeless people, to be living in a world where little children don’t have to die because their parents are poor”. While many of his social commentaries are about poverty, domestic abuse, HIV/AIDS, or love; his eyes are also on the landscape of world power. ‘We’re living in a world with a lot of crazy people, we’re living in a world with psychopaths - every one of them wants to rule the world”.
There is an abundance of music on the world market that glamorizes gangsters, drugs, violence, crime and depressive thought, but when an artist like Lucky Dube rises like a phoenix on stage, we are reminded that the universal truths that really bring people from multiple continents, cultures and age groups together; is the good in all of us, not the bad.


(Part 2 of 2) Last week’s article examined some of the issues and vulnerabilities associated with the H5N1 Avian Flu virus and the possible threat of a pandemic this virus presents to the world. In Grenada, the free roaming practices of chicken farming presents a number of risks if the avian flu reaches the shores of the tri-island state.
Part two is examining an economic alternative that can provide Grenada with a substantive buffer in the event that such a disaster occurs. The alternative is found in developing a practice already common in Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. In rural areas, such as Carriacou, it is not uncommon to see a local farmer walking down the street carrying a large green iguana by its tail; a lizard destined for the dinner table.
For some of us, the thought of eating an iguana may not seem very appetizing, but for many this barrier does not exist, and for those who require adjusting to the concept, iguana meat is reportedly just as tasty as chicken, and can be used as an effective substitute for most chicken dishes.
Although commonly hunted in the wild, farming this endangered species is a relatively new practice that has been pioneered in Central America. Farming practices that have been developed there have shown that farming iguanas can produce ten times the amount of meat per hectare than cattle (making it significantly more viable for small scale farming). They have also proven to be far less labour intensive to raise, and have many other beneficial side effects, such as forest protection which can help Grenada handle other disasters which require forest cover as a first line of defence; such as flooding and landslides.
Iguana farming is quite simple in practice. It involves raising hatchlings for approximately 7 months, and then releasing them to forested areas. The fattening and maturing of the animals can be sped up using feeds such as broken rice, meat, bone, fish meal, papayas, mangoes, bananas, avocados, leaves and flowers. In addition to meats, the eggs are edible and the juvenile iguanas can often be sold as pets.
To date, iguana farming has been pioneered in Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua. Should the practice of iguana farming get established here in Grenada, doing so would result in repopulating an indigenous species that has been hunted near to extinction; provide income and meat for farmers and local markets in the event of the arrival of the avian flu; and protect Grenada’s forest cover by promoting forest based farming of iguanas and fruit bearing trees.
Count your chickens before they hatch: Iguanas are low fat, low cost, environmentally friendly and bird flu free.


(Part 1 of 2) Communities with free roaming chickens have been the ones hardest hit worldwide for the H5N1 virus, commonly known as ‘the bird flu’. This is because transmission of the disease requires contact with infected birds, or contaminated surfaces. When chickens roam free (particularly in urban areas), playing children come into contact with contaminated surfaces, slaughter debris is carried in the gutters, and people simply walk on contaminated surfaces while heading to school, work or the local store.
In 2003, the bird flu spread over a great deal of Asia. In 2004, it reached Malaysia. By 2005 the flu was in Russia, Mongolia, Turkey, Romania and now the bird flu has spread to so many places it is truly a ‘global disease’. It is also a disease that kills more than half of the people who catch it. Healthy people, young people - the bird flu does not discriminate.
But it is not a pandemic yet. According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) a disease is not a pandemic until it presents three characteristics. To be a pandemic, it must: Infect humans, be a serious illness and spread easily and sustainably. The bird flu scores 2 out of 3, and medical authorities say it is only a matter of time before the bird flu masters human to human transmission and becomes a major scourge for this planet.
We can only hope that a pandemic is far into the future, and take steps in the meantime to protect the country from the disease that is already out there, and heading our way. Birds need to be kept in enclosures, called ‘coops’ or ‘aviaries’ that prevent them from mingling casually with humans and other chicken stock.
Free roaming chickens not only present a major health risk to Grenadians the potential economic impacts could be catastrophic. A bird flu outbreak in Grenada would not only have a dramatic impact on Grenadians through loss of life by those who die, but gathering up the free roaming birds for slaughter would be a dangerously time consuming task. In addition to this, if the bird flu was found in Grenada, this would cause serious quarantine issues for international travellers, because it would be virtually impossible for a person travelling from Grenada to declare they had not been on a farm recently. Grenada is a farm.
A key defence for the bird flu is containing the birds. Another defence is preparing the health community to deal with an outbreak, as its arrival is inevitable. Another defence will be the subject of next week’s article, where we will explore one creative way to help Grenada withstand the social, and economic impacts of the bird flu pandemic, when it arrives.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


The government of Grenada is about to embark on a Country Poverty Assessment that will determine the characteristics, extent, geographic concentration, severity and causes of poverty in Grenada. The information generated by this assessment can help direct policy and decision making and possibly attract financial resources to help alleviate poverty.
However, these assessments are not without controversy. All these papers and consultations cost a lot of money, are often heavily influenced by foreign interests, and are not likely to have a great impact on poverty alleviation.
But a poverty assessment is not an optional exercise for any developing country government. It is a condition for receiving aid, obtaining country loans or being eligible for debt relief through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The idea behind the Poverty Assessment is to conduct research that can provide information to draft a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which is also a requirement for aid, loans and debt relief. In turn, the ‘PRSP’ is supposed to be a tool for understanding poverty, engaging citizens, and directing policy with the aim of alleviating poverty.
Supporters of the PRSP’s claim that these conditionalities put poverty first on development agendas, while also encouraging participatory decision making from all sectors of society (civil society, the private sector, faith based organizations and the government). Critics claim that the PRSP is merely an extension of the Structural Adjustment Programmes, of the 1980’s and 1990’s which were also forced upon developing countries by the IMF and World Bank. Critics claim that Structural Adjustment Programmes and now PRSP’s compromise the sovereign right of developing countries to determine their own development priorities and spending.
Supporters on the other hand, argue that the foreign influence on policies, research and spending help to protect the poor from governments who may not use aid, loans or debt relief wisely. This concern may be valid for some countries, but the policies are applied with a broad brush that does not discriminate between the responsible governments and those which are less accountable to their citizens.
Structural Adjustment Programmes forced governments to embrace ‘free market’ policies and to cut social spending (such as education), privatizing public utilities, devaluing currencies and opening markets to imports. These actions have been sharply criticised for worsening the conditions of the poor, as well as hurting domestic markets. The PRSP’s are now supposed to identify ways to alleviate poverty without changing the core structure of the world market system.
Grenadians and visitors to the island who are blessed with employment and the power to make consumer choices can use their spending power to help the poor, and foster Grenada’s economic independence. When shopping for meat, milk, eggs or vegetables, purchasing locally made products before the imports will help support local employment, production and trade, which in turn, will help alleviate poverty. By buying products that are produced or made locally, consumers are protecting their domestic market. In this way, whether the Poverty Assessment and the PRSP makes a difference or not, Grenadians can engage in poverty alleviation and support Grenada on their own terms.