September 28, 2004

Diary of Egypt

A very interesting blog-diary of a trip to Egypt. Excerpt (via Winds of Change):

One point that stuck with me in particular was his notion of the Rational Peasant, because I had been walking around Cairo and seeing much behavior that struck me as bizarre. In Cairo, as opposed to places like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, it's nearly impossible to avoid being confronted with Egypt's endemic poverty. It's quite common to see fellahin walking with donkeys pulling carts loaded with vegetables, fruits, or bread from the rural areas south and north of the city--20 and 30 kilometers away from the point of sale (usually the side of the road). This, for instance, struck me as irrational in an era of highways, buses, and trains. Why couldn't these peasant farmers save themselves (and their donkeys) the trouble and simply sell their produce to a middleman, who would then transport the goods and sell to shops? Or band together with friends, borrow money, and purchase an old truck to share?

Obviously, many did so, or the streets would have been overrun with donkey carts. But what my new friend told me he had learned in his years of development work was that it was important not to assume that peasants hadn't considered these possibilities.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at September 28, 2004 11:45 AM
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