Didn’t we try that in 1938?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Didn’t we try that in 1938?, William Easterly asks:

African Problem to be Addressed African Research Survey, 1938 UN Millennium Project, 2005
Malaria “mosquito bed-nets …malaria control by the spraying of native huts with a preparation of pyrethrum” “insecticide-treated nets…. insecticides for indoor residual spraying …{with} pyrethroids”
Nutrition “…the African suffers from deficiency of Vitamin A” “Malnutrition {is also} caused by inadequate intake of … vitamin A”
Soil fertility “methods of improving soil fertility {such as} green manuring” “using green manure to improve soil fertility”
Soil erosion “increasing absorption and reducing runoff on cultivated land {through} the use of terraces” “Contour terraces, necessary on sloping lands… when furnished with grasses and trees…{to avoid} soil erosion”
Land tenure “… legal security against attack or disturbance can most effectively be guaranteed by registration” “security in private property and tenure rights … registration of property”
Clean drinking water sinking boreholes “Increase the share of boreholes”

People forget that technology does not implement itself:

Technical knowledge needs people to implement it — people who have the right incentives to solve all of the glitches and unexpected problems that happen when you apply a new technology, people who make sure that all the right inputs get to the right places at the right time, and local people who are motivated to use the new technology. The field that addresses all these incentives is called economics.

(Hat tip to Alex Tabarrok.)

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