This is an extension of the previous posting on Scorecard of Globalisation: 20 Years of Diminished Progress.
... bourne out of the realization that numbers and graphs, do not tell the whole story...
Ghana used to be a favourite story in 1980s, to highlight the benefits of globalization. This small West African country - known as Gold Coast during its British occupation till 1956 - is (or used to be) a rich land of gold, cocoa, rice and timber.
For various historical/political reasons it "liberalized" its economy in 1983 when it took a loan from IMF - and became the favourite example of the wonders that GPL - globalization/ privatization/liberlization - can do for a country. Its success was compared with the growth of the South-Asian economies... etc. etc.
Ghana is now a HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Country), and has received "structered loan relief" 26 times!!!
In 2001, John Kampfner, a BBC correspondent visited Ghana, and filed this report, which are snapshots of life in Ghana:
Ghana - prisoner of the IMF
The policy is called cash and carry. Patients pay for everything - for surgery, drugs, blood, scalpel, even the cotton wool. Betty's parents are dead. Her husband is out of work. Her jailers are as ashamed as she is. But user fees have to be collected to keep the hospital going.
Ghana used to be called the model pupil. Now after 20 years of economic fundamentalism, what does it have to show for it? It's now about to join the ignominious club of highly indebted poor countries.
So, if the economic experiment has failed in a place like Ghana, what chances for anywhere else?
The poor have to pay for all the essentials of life, for education; for clean drinking water - even to go to the toilet.
Her children help her out. If she's lucky, she receives £2 a week.
She tells me of her shame, of the pains she feels carrying her heavy loads of stones. She can only send two of her children to school now, but they are chased home by the teachers if she hasn't paid the fees on time.
Mary begins each day with a trip to the public toilet. If she's run out of money, she begs the woman at the booth to let her children in for free. Then she walks to the nearest borehole where she pays for a bucket of water.
This is what the World Bank calls full cost recovery.
The Agyekum family used to live well. They owned a farm. Then one day a mining company forced them off their farming land and took away their livelihood.
Tarkwa is at heart of Ghana's gold mining industry. Gold may be the country's biggest export earner, but the people get nothing out of it. Urged on by the international institutions, the government allows mining firms to operate virtually tax-free for up to 10 years. Environmental and other regulations are kept to a minimum.
Yao's reaction to the events of 11 September was typical of many here. He was shocked and horrified. And yet, what struck me was the speed with which so many Ghanaians - as pro-British and pro-American as they are - made a link between terrorism and poverty.
"We're living in a world where so many people are feeling taken for granted," he tells me, "that unless the big powers become more sensitive to the demands of weaker countries, all of us are endangered."
The international institutions don't try too hard any more to defend their record. Peter Harrold, the World Bank's man in Ghana, admitted that global inequality was posing a much more immediate danger now.
And what about the IMF? "You learn that economic growth doesn't necessarily mean you're tackling social problems", its representative, Girma Begashaw, told me. Why, I asked, had it taken so long for this to dawn on him? All of us, he said, have to learn from experience.
And yet, in spite of the rhetoric, the attempts at contrition, in the villages the same economic fundamentalism is still being applied with the same vigour.
Why American rice?
The village chief invited us for lunch. We ate chicken feet, soup and rice - American rice. A mile away is the Katanga valley, once Ghana's rice bowl. It now lies fallow.
Ghana used to be self sufficient in rice. But then the World Bank and IMF decreed that markets had to open and subsidies had to stop.
Wherever I looked, I saw double standards. People here have to pay for the essentials of life, like water. In America, the government pours millions of dollars each year into propping up its water system.
And why is American rice the staple now for Ghanaians? Yes, you've guessed it. American rice is subsidised.