Thursday, January 3, 2013

food blackouts in Kinshasa

The New York Times reports on a new and outrageous form of power outage: délestage, the way ordinary people balance money and meals in Congo (Kinshasa.)

"If today we eat, tomorrow we’ll drink tea," said Dieudonné Nsala, a father of five who earns $60 a month as an administrator at the Education Ministry. Rent is $120 a month; the numbers, Mr. Nsala pointed out, simply do not add up. Are there days when his children do not eat? "Of course!" Mr. Nsala answered, puzzled at the question. "It can be two days a week," he said.

It's not that the numbers don't add up. It's that they're impossible. Income of $60. Rent of $120. Unless there's a huge source of other income, not only will there be no food, but there'll be no home either.Which leads to the suspicion that coop -- the Kinois version of System D/informality -- is how most people cope, including administrators at government agencies.

Congo is rich in minerals -- but last on the global hunger list. Talk about an extractive economy.

No comments: