From the Department of Self Promotion…

Here is an article on The Katoomba Group’s Ecosystem Marketplace, The Innovator: Can Lars Christian Smith Take Protected Areas to Market?


Dress for success


We have previously mentioned the current predicament of the Hadza. Here is an article in the Daily Mail, Face to face with Stone Age man: The Hadzabe tribe of Tanzania.

Ah, journalists. The Hadza don’t live in the Stone Age. “Hadzabe” is the feminine plural of “Hadza”; this usage is usually considered redundant in English, so we speak of the “Swahili”, not the “Waswahili”. The journalist writes,

I introduced myself and Naftal translated my words into clicks and whistles to an older Hadza called Gonga (Good Hunter in Swahili).

He smiled warmly, revealing surprisingly well-kept teeth.

The Hadza language, like many language in Southern Africa, use clicks as consonants, but no whistles.

There is a picture of the journalist in the article. He has surprising well-kept teeth for a British journalist.

What is interesting about the picture is that the young Hadza man is dressed up for the tourism business. Hadza men don’t usually use animal skins for clothing, and they certainly don’t use hoods. A hood makes no sense in the environment in which the Hadza live. There are photographs of the Hadza dating back to the 1930s, taken by Ludwig Kohl-Larsen, and there are later photographs taken by James Woodburn and others.

It is clear that increasing use of skins and also beads is a response to tourism. The Hadza are now on the tourism circuit. They put on their faux-traditional outfits for the benefit of tourists, and take them off when the tourists have left.

If that provides more income, why not? One danger is that government officials will find it embarrassing that there are people walking about in hides and skins, and will do little to help the Hadza with the biggest problem they face, loss of control and ownership of their lands.

Infant industry protection

Ha-Joon Chang writes that almost all rich countries got wealthy by protecting infant industries and limiting foreign investment.

Once upon a time, the leading car-maker of a developing country exported its first passenger cars to the US. Until then, the company had only made poor copies of cars made by richer countries. The car was just a cheap subcompact (“four wheels and an ashtray”) but it was a big moment for the country and its exporters felt proud.

Unfortunately, the car failed. Most people thought it looked lousy, and were reluctant to spend serious money on a family car that came from a place where only second-rate products were made. The car had to be withdrawn from the US. This disaster led to a major debate among the country’s citizens. Many argued that the company should have stuck to its original business of making simple textile machinery. After all, the country’s biggest export item was silk. If the company could not make decent cars after 25 years of trying, there was no future for it. The government had given the car-maker every chance. It had ensured high profits for it through high tariffs and tough controls on foreign investment. Less than ten years earlier, it had even given public money to save the company from bankruptcy. So, the critics argued, foreign cars should now be let in freely and foreign car-makers, who had been kicked out 20 years before, allowed back again. Others disagreed. They argued that no country had ever got anywhere without developing “serious” industries like car production. They just needed more time.

The year was 1958 and the country was Japan…

Read the article here.

Ha-Joon Chang is the author of Kicking Away the Ladder: Policies and Institutions for Economic Development in Historical Perspective and the forthcoming Bad Samaritans—Rich Nations, Poor Policies and the Threat to the Developing World. 

The Myth of Inevitable Progress

A review of Indur M. Goklany’s The Improving State of the World: Why We’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet by James Surowiecki.

The core message of Goklany’s book is that economic growth and technological change are the keys to improving people’s lives. But the success of China and India suggests that no one really knows how to bring these achievements about, which makes Goklany’s wide-eyed optimism about the future seem misplaced.[…]

The fact that every country’s experience is different does not mean that there are not deeper truths to be uncovered by looking at the experience of the world as a whole. But the truths thus far uncovered are relatively few in number and often limited in impact. So, yes, free trade is a good thing, subsidies to agriculture and official corruption are bad things, and so on. And policymakers should be aggressive in implementing those practices and policies that there is a good reason to think will work. But they also need to be cautious about taking theoretical pronouncements for reality, and they should be pragmatists rather than evangelists. After decades of misplaced certainty, it may be time to recognize the limits of our own knowledge — at least if we want the state of the world to continue improving.

Hadza hunters-gatherers under threat

The Washington Post reports on the Hadza hunter-gatherers,

50,000 Years of Resilience May Not Save Tribe

Tanzania Safari Deal Lets Arab Royalty Use Lands

YAEDA VALLEY, Tanzania — One of the last remaining tribes of hunter-gatherers on the planet is on the verge of vanishing into the modern world.

The transition has been long underway, but members of the dwindling Hadzabe tribe, who now number fewer than 1,500, say it is being unduly hastened by a United Arab Emirates royal family, which plans to use the tribal hunting land as a personal safari playground.

The deal between the Tanzanian government and Tanzania UAE Safaris Ltd. leases nearly 2,500 square miles of this sprawling, yellow-green valley near the storied Serengeti Plain to members of the royal family, who chose it after a helicopter tour.

A Tanzanian official said that a nearby hunting area the family shared with relatives had become “too crowded” and that a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family “indicated that it was inconvenient” and requested his own parcel.

The official, Philip Marmo, called the Hadzabe “backwards” and said they would benefit from the school, roads and other projects the UAE company has offered as compensation…

The long-run threat to the Hadza is habitat loss. Tanzania has for many years had one of the fastest growing human populations in the world, and the Hadza have lost land from encroachment by farmers and the destruction of woodlands. Ironically, what caused the destruction of one forest was the demand for charcoal from the neighboring Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The actions of the Abu Dhabi royal family may or may not threaten the Hadza’s livelihood, but obviously some Hadza believe it does. What the Hadza need are clear and well-defined property rights to their land, including rights to charge tourists and hunters.

Here are a few photos.