Amber Huff https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/18843/all cached version 04/07/2018 11:12:11 en Why #DefendAfrin? Confronting authoritarian populism with radical democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/amber-huff-salima-tasdemir-patrick-huff/why-defendafrin-confronting-authoritarian-populism-with-radi <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The war in Afrin starkly highlights how the dynamics of power and resource grabs by the US,&nbsp; Russia, and their regional alliances, have shaped contemporary struggles for life and democracy. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Demo_in_Afrin_19_Jan_2018.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Demo_in_Afrin_19_Jan_2018.png" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A demonstration in the city of Afrin, Syria in support of the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) against the Turkish military operation against the Afrin Region. 19 January 2018. Voice of America Kurdish. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>This is the third article in a series on ‘confronting authoritarian populism and the rural world’, linked to the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (</em><a href="http://www.iss.nl/erpi"><em>ERPI</em></a><em>). The article opening the series can be read </em><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/marc-edelman-ian-scoones-saturnino-m-borras-jr-lyda-forero-ruth-hall-ben-white-and-wendy-wolford/con"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>On 20 January, Turkey launched a brutal air and ground <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/afrin-turkey-invasion-syria-enclave-kurds-ypg-airstrike-war-civil-a8182266.html">invasion of Afrin</a> canton in Northern Syria. Turkey claims that the Orwellian-named ‘Operation Olive Branch’ is a fight against terrorism and an effort to secure Turkey’s borders. However, Afrin, one of the three founding cantons of the autonomous rural region in Northern Syria commonly called by the Kurdish name of <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/10/kurds-rojava-syria-isis-iraq-assad/505037/">Rojava</a>, has been one of the most stable and peaceful regions in Syria since the state collapsed in 2012, and part of a radical experiment in decentralised democracy. </p> <h2><strong>Seeing the invasion of Afrin in context</strong></h2> <p>Some choose to see Turkey’s current aggression against Afrin as simply the next violent episode associated with the Syrian civil war, while others choose to take at face value Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s claims to be ridding regions bordering Turkey of their militant threats. </p> <p>Instead, the <a href="What%2520is%2520clear,%2520though,%2520is%2520that%2520Turkey%25E2%2580%2599s%2520attack%2520on%2520Afrin%2520should%2520be%2520viewed%2520within%2520the%2520long%2520tradition%2520of%2520the%2520Turkish%2520state%25E2%2580%2599s%2520strong%2520animosity%2520towards%2520any%2520type%2520of%2520self-expression,%2520self-rule%2520or%2520self-organization%2520of%2520the%2520Kurdish%2520people.">attack on Afrin</a> should be viewed in the context of the Turkish state’s long support of jihadist groups in opposition to the Assad regime in Syria and the intensification of a century of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/world/europe/un-turkey-kurds-human-rights-abuses.html">violent opposition</a> towards any type of self-expression, self-rule or self-organization by Kurdish people; particularly the large Kurdish population living within Turkey who, the government fears, are emboldened by the existence of autonomous Kurdish regions on its borders.</p> <p>The war in Afrin, viewed in this wider context, starkly highlights how the crises and contradictions of <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03066150.2017.1339693">the current political conjuncture</a>, including those arising from the dynamics of <a href="https://roarmag.org/essays/islamic-state-invasion-iraq/">power and resource grabs</a> by the US and Russia and their alliances in the region, have shaped contemporary struggles for life and democracy. </p> <p>In this case putting forces that represent systems of neo-imperial and extractive ‘<a href="https://roarmag.org/essays/call-solidarity-defend-afrin-defend-humanity/">capitalism, authoritarian statism, religious fundamentalism and in some cases pure fascism… in charge of establishing democracy and peace</a>’ has opened spaces for new forms and manifestations of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/marc-edelman-ian-scoones-saturnino-m-borras-jr-lyda-forero-ruth-hall-ben-white-and-wendy-wolford/con">authoritarian populism</a> to emerge or deepen their hold on society. </p> <p>Such spaces have fueled the rise of the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, strengthened right-wing nationalism and given free-license to governments wishing to suppress dissent violently thereby consolidating collective self-expression within their borders in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’.</p> <h2><strong>Opening spaces for radical democracy</strong></h2> <p>The resulting contradictions can also open up spaces for new alliances, philosophies and praxes of emancipation and resistance. Despite being surrounded by enemies on all sides, including hostile state actors, state-backed jihadist groups and Al Qaeda, Rojava has maintained its autonomy since the Movement for a Democratic Society (now the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria), a multi-ethnic multiparty coalition, rose to prominence in 2012. </p> <p>This period has offered the world the spectacle of a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/08/why-world-ignoring-revolutionary-kurds-syria-isis">remarkable, radically democratic experiment</a> amidst the wreckage wrought by the deadliest and most geopolitically complex war of the twenty-first century, and its lessons are influencing debates and movements around radical alternatives across the world. In 2014 Rojava’s three cantons, Afrin, Kobanî and Jazira, united under ‘<a href="https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/english-version_sc_revised-060314.pdf">The Charter of the Social Contract</a>’. This formed the basis for the implementation of a new form of non-statist governance called <a href="https://libcom.org/news/democratic-confederalism-kurdistan-25042016">democratic confederalism</a>, based on ‘bottom-up’ confederated democracy, religious and ethnic pluralism, ecological society, and substantive women’s liberation. </p> <p>So what has been accomplished in practice? In Afrin, as across Rojava, <a href="https://libcom.org/news/democratic-confederalism-kurdistan-25042016">democratic confederalism</a> is based on the idea that <a href="http://ocalan-books.com/downloads/EN-brochure_democratic-confederalism_2017.pdf">society can be run truly democratically</a> when power rests with the people rather than with state bureaucracies. The basis of governance is a network of inclusive, community-level assemblies or communes that are the primary locus of decision-making across sectors from sanitation to economy to education. </p> <p>Local assemblies, through elected representatives, form confederations across cities and regions that coordinate their actions to implement decisions. This system includes a mandated co-chairmanship at every level as a mechanism ensuring ethnic and gender pluralism in decision-making at the same time as preventing individuals from consolidating power over communes or at higher levels. </p> <p>In Rojava and neighbouring Bakur (the part of Kurdistan located within the borders of Turkey) <a href="https://cooperativeeconomy.info/">co-operatives are playing a key role</a> in reshaping the ravaged economy of the region, with the immediate goals of <a href="https://cooperativeeconomy.info/two-years-after-opening-suz-co-operative-meets-most-of-afrins-needs/">meeting people’s basic household needs and controlling dramatic price fluctuations resulting from price-gouging and monopolies</a>, and longer-term goals of attaining sustainability and self-sufficiency.</p> <p>Foremost, what is often simply called the <a href="https://undercoverinfo.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/k-star.pdf">‘Women’s Revolution’</a>, which aims to restructure the ways that patriarchy has shaped society and individuals, is an overarching driving force behind democratic confederalism’s radical democratic transformations. </p> <h2><strong>Defending autonomy and democracy</strong></h2> <p>Self-defence has been crucial to the preservation of life and gradual institution and evolution of democratic confederalism in Rojava, because liberating the region from the brutal threat of Islamic State and defending populations against cross-border attacks by the Turkish military and Syrian- and Turkey-backed jihadist militias have all been necessary for survival. While the YPG (People’s Protection Units) and YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) have played a key part in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), tactically allied with the US military to eliminate the Islamic State, defence against other threats have fallen exclusively to the YPG and YPJ. </p> <p>It is this reality of the need for self-defence that is being twisted and mobilised by the Turkish state as justification for the bloody invasion of Afrin Canton. In Erdoğan’s framing, securing Turkey’s borders from ‘terrorism’ means carving out a 30-kilometer ‘safe zone’ across the border of a neighbouring country, which not only eradicates the YPG, YPJ and that which they defend, but puts countless civilians, including hundreds of thousands of refugees already displaced by violence elsewhere in Syria, at risk of further displacement, injury and death. </p> <p>An autonomous ‘Kurdish’ experiment in revolutionary democracy is at stark odds with the authoritarian, ultra-nationalist and anti-Kurdish discourse that has intensified in Turkey since the last general elections in 2016. This has included a shocking <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/16/erdogan-claims-victory-in-turkish-constitutional-referendum">constitutional referendum</a> that transformed Turkey from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential republic, with consolidated power in the executive; numerous acts of violence against ethnic minority groups in Turkey; the arrest and detention of elected MPs from the left-leaning and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), and the widespread suppression of journalists and academics critical of the state. </p> <p>It is little surprise that the aggression against Afrin, and by association, Rojava, comes just in time to shore up popular support inside Turkey for Erdoğan’s re-election as president in 2019. </p> <h2><strong>High stakes</strong></h2> <p><a href="https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/2018/02/07/do-not-let-afrin-become-another-kobane/">International calls for solidarity</a> and a wave of demonstrations across the world have brought attention to the high stakes in Afrin, though the media has been slow to follow suit. Although the offensive has just begun, civilian deaths and injuries <a href="http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/010220181">climb</a>, and <a href="https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/turkey-syria-recent-developments-northwestern-syria-idleb-governorate-1">as many as 30,000 people have been displaced</a> from border communities since the invasion began. As is always the case, the most vulnerable members of society are <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/afrin-turkey-invasion-syria-enclave-kurds-ypg-airstrike-war-civil-a8182266.html">most at risk</a>. </p> <p>At stake, not least, and deserving of our attention and solidarity is a radical alternative to both violent authoritarian nationalism and the broader systemic violence now associated with the contradictory nexus of blind elite cosmopolitanism, neo-imperialism and intensifying militarization that drives uneven globalization. </p> <p>As <a href="https://roarmag.org/essays/call-solidarity-defend-afrin-defend-humanity/">Dilar Dirik</a>, an activist in the Kurdish Women’s Movement, recently wrote, the war in Afrin ‘symbolizes two options that the peoples and communities of the Middle East face today: between militarist, patriarchal, fascist dictatorships on the one hand, controlled by foreign imperialist interests and capital, or the solidarity between autonomous, self-determined, free and equal communities on the other’. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The <strong>Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative</strong> (<a href="https://www.iss.nl/en/research/networks/emancipatory-rural-politics-initiative-erpi">ERPI)</a> was launched during 2017 as a response to the rise of <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03066150.2017.1339693">authoritarian populism</a> in different parts of the world. Our focus is on the rural origins and consequences of authoritarian populism, as well as the forms of resistance and variety of alternatives that are emerging.<br />&nbsp;<br />In March 2018, a major <a href="https://www.iss.nl/en/events/authoritarian-populism-and-rural-world-2018-03-17">ERPI event </a>will be held in The Hague, the Netherlands, bringing together around 300 researchers and activists from across five continents. ERPI small grant holders will present research insights and debates will focus on mobilizing alternatives, generating new research-activist networks across the world.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />You can also follow updates from ERPI on <a href="https://twitter.com/TheErpi">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/TheERPI/">Facebook.</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/marc-edelman-ian-scoones-saturnino-m-borras-jr-lyda-forero-ruth-hall-ben-white-and-wendy-wolford/con"> Confronting authoritarian populism: the rural dimension</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openindia/achin-vanaik/hindu-authoritarianism-and-agrarian-distress">Hindu authoritarianism and agrarian distress</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ercan-ayboga/solution-for-syria-en-route-democratic-federation-of-north-syria">Solution for Syria en route: ‘Democratic Federation of North Syria’ </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/cemal-zkahraman/rojava-where-water-is-twice-as-expensive-as-oil">Rojava, where water is twice as expensive as oil</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/behnam-amini/kurdish-struggles-and-challenge-of-foreign-support-case-of-syria">Kurdish struggles and the challenge of foreign support: the case of Syrian Kurds</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/rahila-gupta/rojava-inspired-womens-councils-europe">How Rojava-inspired women&#039;s councils have spread across Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/derek-wall/western-blind-spot-kurds%27-forgotten-war-in-syria">Western blind spot: the Kurds&#039; forgotten war in Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nadje-al-ali-latif-tas-g-ltan-ki-anak/kurdish-women-s-battle-continues-against-state-and-patriarchy-"> Kurdish women’s battle continues against state and patriarchy, says first female co-mayor of Diyarbakir. Interview </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/necla-acik/kobane-struggle-of-kurdish-women-against-islamic-state">Kobane: the struggle of Kurdish women against Islamic State</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dilar-dirik/feminist-pacifism-or-passive-ism">Feminist pacifism or passive-ism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dilar-dirik/erdogan-s-war-on-women">Erdogan&#039;s war on women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/evangelos-aretaios/rojava-revolution">The Rojava revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rosa-burc/confederal-kurdistan-commune-of-communes">Confederal Kurdistan: the &#039;commune of communes&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nadje-al-ali-latif-tas-ayla-akat/kurds-and-turks-are-at-edge-of-cliff">Kurds and Turks are at the edge of a cliff</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Russia United States Syria Turkey Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World Patrick Huff Salima Tasdemir Amber Huff Mon, 12 Feb 2018 08:20:16 +0000 Amber Huff, Salima Tasdemir and Patrick Huff 116056 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ebola: exposing the failure of international development https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/amber-huff/ebola-exposing-failure-of-international-development <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Ebola crisis has revealed the consequences of deep-seated, unequal global social and economic relations that international development, as practised in recent decades, has had a role in creating.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;A year ago, Guinea’s Ministry of Health and <a href="http://www.msf.org.uk/ebola">Médecins sans Frontières</a> received reports from health centre staff of a mysterious disease killing people in rural southern Guinea. Within weeks of the reporting, the infection was identified, and cases were being investigated in the bordering countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. A toddler named <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/28/ebola-virus-guinea-first-victim-patient-zero">Emile Ouamouno</a> was eventually identified as the first victim of what we now call the Ebola crisis – a crisis that has since bestowed tragedy on tens of thousands of affected people and families in West Africa. </p> <p>The extent, impact and grave difficulties in controlling the disease since its identification last March have not been haphazard. Far from it. Rather, the Ebola crisis has revealed the consequences of deep-seated, unequal global social and economic relations that international development, as practised in recent decades, has had a role in creating. </p> <p>Indeed, if anything positive is to come out of the Ebola crisis, it is the unmasking of this truth.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Causes of epidemic disease <br /></strong></p> <p>Since his death, little Emile has become known to most simply as ‘Patient Zero’, and widespread attention has focused on the role of <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/">bats</a> (the likely carrier of the virus that killed Emile) and the consumption of <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/201404030751.html">bushmeat</a> (which is <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-12/e-baa122614.php">not likely</a> to be the origin of this epidemic). </p> <p>However, epidemics of diseases like Ebola do not have simple, single causes. They arise from the interaction of ecological, economic, social and political <a href="http://steps-centre.org/project/drivers_of_disease/?referralDomain=health-and-disease">factors</a>. It is important to remember that following Emile’s death, each of the thousands of incidences of Ebola virus disease in this epidemic has been transmitted from one person to another, primarily in the care contexts of hospitals, home care of the sick, and care for and burial of the dead. </p> <p>The current Ebola epidemic is <a href="http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2014/11/11/factors-might-led-emergence-ebola-west-africa/">unprecedented</a> in terms of duration, <a href="http://apps.who.int/ebola/en/ebola-situation-report/situation-reports/ebola-situation-report-28-january-2015">deaths</a>, livelihood losses and geographic scope. Also, in terms of the resources allocated to avoid spread to richer more privileged settings. Survivors will feel its <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/nov/24/ebola-reducing-stigma-survivors-libera-sierra-leone-guinea">social</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/10/ebola-liberia-catastrophe-generation-poverty">economic</a>, and <a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report/100952/mystery-over-ebola-survivors-ailments">bodily</a> consequences far into the future. <br /></p> <p>These circumstances highlight just how central to our wellbeing are the ‘ecologies’ that we create. </p> <p><strong>Opening the debate <br /></strong></p> <p>As we near the first anniversary of the identification of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, it is past time to examine the conditions that created an environment for a disease like Ebola to flourish. </p> <p>Bringing together a diverse group of key policymakers, NGOs and researchers, today marks the launch of <a href="https://www.ids.ac.uk/project/ebola-lessons-for-development"><em>Ebola and Lessons for Development: Inequality,&nbsp;Structural&nbsp;Violence&nbsp;and Infectious Disease</em></a>, an <a href="https://www.ids.ac.uk/">Institute for Development Studies</a> initiative. Authors present nine briefing papers that argue that we must look beyond the immediate issues of response and control to reflect on bigger and broader questions and lessons learned about relationships between international development practice and the current crisis. </p> <p><strong>Global health and health systems <br /></strong></p> <p>For much of the past decade, global control of infectious diseases has been largely oriented around developing mechanisms to link health and security concerns. The World Health Organization (WHO) has made strengthening global health security a strategic objective, but was unable to marshal a rapid international response to the epidemic due to the organisation’s institutional structure and recent cutbacks affecting its emergency response capacity. </p> <p>International efforts around containing the outbreak were relatively powerless when confronted with the lack of effective and accessible treatments or vaccines for Ebola, and with weak national health systems in countries experiencing the worst of the raging epidemic. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have all experienced the repercussions of <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(14)70377-8/fulltext">harsh social and economic reforms</a> that have been pushed as a condition of international aid, weakening states and decimating their public sectors and services, including health systems.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>Beyond the Ebola crisis response <br /></strong></p> <p>Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have unique national political, economic, and social histories. Yet, in recent years their pathways have been linked through international agreements, policy reforms, and conflicts. Prior to the outbreak, they were all recovering from major socio-political and economic ruptures, including over a decade of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-17768957">violent armed conflict</a> in Sierra Leone and Liberia that spilled over into Guinea. </p> <p>At the same time, they have recently experienced dramatic economic growth. Economic growth is often assumed to lead to mass improvements in quality of life in developing countries, but this has not been the case in these three countries. Rather, recent growth has been largely inequitable, benefitting international investors but not resulting in equal improvements in public services and economic opportunities for everyday people. </p> <p>These trends are related to important ecological changes in the region as well. Primary causes of environmental change in West Africa involve expansive ‘land grabs’ – deals in which companies and foreign governments lease large areas of land in lower-income countries for the commercial production of <a href="http://wle.cgiar.org/blogs/2012/10/16/landgrabbing-feeding-the-world-or-the-corporate-bottom-line/">food or fuel crops</a>. These <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/15/risks-over-increasing-global-land-deals">grabs</a> are facilitated through policy reforms designed to attract and incentivise international investment in large-scale mining, timber, and commercial agriculture, especially for the production of hybrid oil palm, one of the world’s most rapidly expanding cash crops due to its use in producing <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/apr/04/energy.indonesia">biodiesel</a>. </p> <p>Across West Africa, establishing large oil palm plantations causes massive changes to <a href="http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0114-urey-ebola-palm-oil.html">ecosystems</a><strong>,</strong> and fragments the habitats of wild animals (like bats) that are the natural hosts for diseases like Ebola. As wild animals face large-scale environmental changes, often changing migration patterns and feeding behaviour to survive in ways that can increase people’s risk of exposure to diseases. </p> <p><strong>Gender, community and control in context <br /></strong></p> <p>In another facet to this complex epidemic, vulnerability to Ebola infection is highly gendered, and women have made up as many as three-quarters of the cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. This is related to the important roles that women play as providers of professional and home-based care in giving life, and in burying the dead. </p> <p>Elizabeth Mills (Institute of Development Studies) and Jennifer Diggins (University of Sussex) <a href="https://www.ids.ac.uk/publication/the-pathology-of-inequality-gender-and-ebola-in-west-africa">highlight</a> that ‘<em>Livelihoods, and especially women’s livelihoods and the wellbeing of female-lead households, have been heavily impacted by epidemic control measures. In Sierra Leone and Liberia, for example, where women play a critical role in food production and cross-border trade, restrictions and border closures have greatly diminished women’s earning power.</em>’ </p> <p>Control efforts have been structured around curfews, mass cremations, lock-downs, quarantines – of houses, villages and entire regions – and the use of military force to maintain these measures, severely rupturing fundamental features of social, political, economic and religious life. </p> <p>During the crisis, much attention has been focused on the fact that people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have avoided health facilities and actively resisted public health teams, which is often attributed to ignorance of biomedicine and refusal to abandon ‘traditional culture’. In fact, these ideas encourage those working in international development to underplay the persistence of inequitable policies and practices of exclusion and neglect that create atmospheres of mistrust between states, citizens, and response partners. These practices underpin the vulnerability of people who live in some of the world’s poorest communities. </p> <p>These powerful ideas, too, distract from the importance of <a href="http://www.ebola-anthropology.net/">learning from</a> and supporting local responses to hazards like Ebola. Evidence emerging from the current epidemic and previous outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases shows they can be better addressed through coordinated collaboration between medical response teams and those with a range of other forms of expertise, including community members with deep knowledge of the social and environmental context of the outbreak, and sometimes long experience with the disease itself. </p> <p><strong>Lessons for development</strong> </p> <p>There is now an urgent need to reinvest in global health and national health systems to support the development of sustainable rapid response programs and build trust across sectors. </p> <p>Linda Waldman (Institute of Development Studies) <a href="https://www.ids.ac.uk/publication/urbanisation-the-peri-urban-growth-and-zoonotic-disease">argues</a> that <em>‘we must bring people at the social and economic ‘margins’ of urban societies to the forefront of development planning. Only in this way can urban communities help to dismantle institutions that have functioned to exacerbate and entrench inequities and foster atmospheres of mistrust.’</em> </p> <p>We must invest in the capacity to learn from local experiences and support local responses. Pervasive stereotypes about ‘traditional culture’ can have dire consequences when they misdirect planning and interventions. <a href="http://steps-centre.org/2014/blog/ebola/">Local knowledge</a> and perspectives must be at the heart of the political, public health and biomedical responses to development planning and crisis response. </p> <p>Legacies of inequitable development create the vulnerabilities that result in hazards turning to disasters. To focus only on the immediate circumstances of the Ebola epidemic is, to use the language of medicine, to address the symptoms of a pathological condition rather than the underlying and complex dynamics that allow the problem to arise in the first place. </p> <p>In this context, we must learn from and address underlying causes to build a more just, resilient and sustainable future. If we are to take an overarching lesson from this Ebola crisis, it is quite simply, that now is the time to radically rethink development. </p> <p><strong>Read the IDS briefings </strong><a href="https://www.ids.ac.uk/project/ebola-lessons-for-development"><strong><em>Ebola and Lessons for Development: Inequality,&nbsp;Structural&nbsp;Violence&nbsp;and Infectious Disease&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></strong></a><strong> </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/tooni-akanni/confronting-ebola-in-liberia-gendered-realities-0">Confronting Ebola in Liberia: the gendered realities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/philippa-atkinson/ebola-crisis-exposing-failures-of-local-and-global-governance">The ebola crisis: exposing the failures of local and global governance</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/bob-rigg/ebola-between-public-health-and-private-profit">Ebola: between public health and private profit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/open-security/experts-from-range-of-disciplines/ebola-and-global-health-politics-open-letter">Ebola and global health politics: an open letter</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights-blog/alicia-ely-yamin/ebola-human-rights-and-poverty-%E2%80%93-making-links">Ebola, human rights, and poverty – making the links</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Liberia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Guinea </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Sierra Leone </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Sierra Leone Guinea Liberia Civil society International politics Ebola 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Editor's Pick women's health 50.50 newsletter Amber Huff Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:30:33 +0000 Amber Huff 90792 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Amber Huff https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/amber-huff <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amber Huff </div> </div> </div> <p>Amber Huff is a Research Fellow in Resource Politics at the Institute of Development Studies, a member of the ESRC STEPS Centre, and a member of the UK Kurdistan Solidarity movement. </p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amber Huff is a social anthropologist and political ecologist who researches linkages between environmental and development policy, landscape change, and human wellbeing. She is a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies </div> </div> </div> Amber Huff Tue, 24 Feb 2015 19:53:20 +0000 Amber Huff 90811 at https://www.opendemocracy.net