USA defeats Ghana in World Cup match, but can Ghana defeat the ‘Resource Curse’?
Like so many of you, I cheered at home earlier this week as the USA’s Clint Dempsey scored the quickest goal of the World Cup so far, seconds after kick-off, and later as John Brooks put the US ahead of Ghana with an 86th-minute goal. The 2-1 victory over Ghana in the first round was significant, since the USA was eliminated by Ghana in the past two World Cups.
But the game also made me think about a much more important issue for Ghana than emerging from the so-called Group of Death: avoiding the “resource curse” that has plagued too many African nations.
Ghana is Africa’s second largest gold producer. But Ghana, which traders named the Gold Coast due to its mineral wealth, hasn’t seen its hopes for the gold trade realized. Mining hasn’t transformed the country’s economy or addressed poverty. In fact, most of the gold money leaves the country, and the industry has seen human rights violations, pollution, land grabs, and conflict between security forces working for the mining companies and the local communities. Ghana is struggling to properly regulate the industry, and many people turn to illegal mining to support themselves – often at a terrible health and safety risk as they use toxic mercury in the process. Despite their mineral wealth, a quarter of Ghanaian citizens live in poverty.
Oxfam America has been working with our partners in Ghana for years on extractive industry issues – making sure natural resources benefit Ghanaians, and they have the right to decide how these resources are developed. Ghana has taken big steps to try to avoid the “Nigerian model” and push the government to put strong transparency protections in place. The government has made a strong commitment to transparency and good management of these resources by passing a Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) in 2011 designed to make sure that payments between companies and the government are transparent.
To help, visit our natural resources rights page, or tell the SEC to protect transparency. You can also watch the documentary Big Men, which follows Ghana’s oil discovery and the debate over how to develop the reserves.
While the World Cup is an exciting time for countries around the world, Ghana’s most important match right now isn’t in Brazil, but back home fighting poverty and corruption. If the oil wealth isn’t managed properly, it could fail to address the poverty or even make it worse. The question is whether this revenue will go to support sustainable and inclusive development.
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Fighting Climate Change through Corporations
If General Mills and Kellogg are serious about their commitment to addressing climate change, they will come clean about their position on the President’s Climate Action plan and exactly what they are doing about it. They can start by publicly supporting the EPA’s new rule, disassociating themselves from the backwards lobbying by the US Chamber, and signing on to Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy’s (BICEP) Climate Declaration.
Farmers from different hemispheres come together to face the same changing climate.
Virginia lives in a region that relies on water flowing from rivers emerging from glacier and snow melt. Living and growing at an altitude of 13,500 feet, these indigenous farmers have relied for centuries on the Pastoruri glaciers, and a progression of seasons that alternated between rainy and dry, warmth and cold. The changing seasons have not been kind to Virginia’s potato and vegetable production and Virginia said that since climate change is taking effect, “there is little water, little rain, and spring water is scarce. In the area, there are places where there is no water.” If the Pastoruri glacier continues to disappear and the weather continues to become more extreme, there will be limits to the community’s ability to adapt. That is why Virginia came to ask food companies and people in the US to do their part to fight climate change and decrease greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate this growing disaster.
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Starting June 11th, Oxfam launched an interactive series of maps on the working poor and a new report that illustrates how raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would give 25 million workers across the US a much-needed raise. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which works out to $15,080 per year for a full-time worker. That’s almost $4,000under the poverty line for a family of three.
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