Here’s a classic example of how Western NGOs use front groups in less developed nations to make claims that would be too tenuous for them to make themselves.
Bipasha Dutta is “Senior Assistant Coordinator, Climate Change, Food Security and Governance Unit” of an organisation called Eminence, a Bangladeshi NGO. Eminence’s stated objective is to work for “a progressive Bangladesh where people live in health equity”. It presents itself as a “grass roots” type organisation which organises “citizen’s forums” and presents itself as the voice of the voiceless masses in Bangladesh.
However, this facade of grass roots action is belied by the fact that eminence is a project of, and “funded by Population Action International“. Population Action International is a US organisation fthat was founded in the Sixties during the height of the population explosion panic as “Population Crisis Committee” by William Draper and Hugh Moore. Moore (a wealthy Southern businessman) published Ehrlich’s book, The Population Bomb and sat on the board of the Population Reference Bureau, a front for eugenics after WWII. Draper, for his part, was a well connected figure in Washington who urged that it was time to “push the panic button” on India and withhold all food and aid supplies until Delhi agreed to create a “paramedical” force of thousands to go around the country inserting IUDs to “dispel that threat” as Draper put it.
Despite its heartwarming words about a “progressive” Bangladcsh then, Eminence is funded by those whose interests are primarily population control, which explains the fact that everything they do has a disquieting slant towards focusing on women’s reproduction and reproductive heath.
For example, Eminence claims that climate change poses a major threat to women’s reproductive health in Bangladesh, arguing that,
While looking at the relation between climate change and reproductive health, the first point of entry could be the incidence of natural disaster. Since the most visible and severe effect of climate change is the increase of natural disaster including cyclones, flood and draught, it is very likely that a large number of population, including the women of reproductive age would be greatly affected
Financial Express: Impacts of Climate Change on Women’s Reproductive Health.
Dutta claims that following these disasters women are at more risk of sexual violence. Not only that, but also to low birth weight and to a perpetuation of repressive marriages in the aftermath. Surprisingly, Dutta includes the Asian tsunami as a natural disaster caused by global warming:
Miscarriage and abortion increases in crowded shelter houses. Forced marriage of the pregnant widowers after tsunami caused low-birth weight children. Even cases of sexual harassment take place on the way to shelter where they lack gender-friendly sanitation facility. Also, prolonged exposure to filthy water during post-disaster period causes severe skin diseases and gynecological problems to women.
All of this highly unusual and dubious rationale is by way of a lead-in to Dutta’s mention of the work of Eminence which he says has been studying how global warming affects women’s reproductive health in Bangladesh. He offers the following example from “field data” (i.e. not peer reviewed work, but raw data) in 2011 –
Abida from Bakultala village of Southkhali Union reported just after AILA that contraceptive methods remained unavailable because local shop and pharmacy were destroyed, shops remained closed for 15 days, communication and transportation system were interrupted, field health providers remained absent, and FWA were unreachable due to bad communication. Thus, due to unavailability of contraceptive method she became pregnant at an age of 17. Since the communication system was disrupted she could not go to ANC. As a result, she had to deliver her child with the assistance of a traditional birth attendant at home. Her baby is malnourished and has been suffering from different diseases (Field Data, 2011).
Here we can see the real concern of Eminence’s funders over global warming and women’s reproductive health in Bangladesh. This is a country where reliance on subsistence farming and a lack of infrastructure (power plants, water, etc) are causing death and misery for millions. But there is no mention of this at all. It’s doesn’t fit their picture of a “progressive” Bangladesh.
Instead, we are told that global warming led to the local store being closed for two weeks and this in turn is blamed for a teenager getting pregnant. If this link were made directly by a Western NGO it would be seen as incredibly insensitive and patronising, the idea that this is a problem on a par with lack of infrastructure and electricity. But when a local NGO which claims to be about “grass roots” participation, but which is funded by the Population Crisis Committee’s later alter-ego makes the claim it’s another story. Such a link can then be referred to in the Western media without fear of being seen as insulting.