So I'm in Senegal.
It's work -- this time an assessment of the business environment for the agricultural sector. As in the Philippines, this is an area I knew very little about a few weeks ago. Fortunately, it's a group effort, and the team includes several agricultural experts.
It's... really good to be working. As a practical matter, getting dropped by BearingPoint made very little difference. But apparently large parts of my brain were not interested in hearing this.
Some Damn Subroutine Or Other: Yaaah! We're unemployed! How are we going to feed all these kids!
Another Subroutine: It's all our fault! We were never on time for meetings and stuff! We suck!
Conscious mind: Ummm... I thought our employer went bankrupt?
Subroutines: No no! We totally suck!
Another subroutine: Hey, let's be depressed! We've seen other people react to stress that way, and it looks like fun! Let's be... listless!
Yet another subroutine: Oh, yeah! That'll work really well! Let's be listless and anhedonic and easily distracted too! Hey, can we do peevish also?
Wife: Can I get a word in here?
-- Anyway. Senegal is a month of work -- half in country, half not -- and then in July I have another three weeks in Uganda. So we're set for the next little while. It's hard on Claudia and the boys, though, so I need to find something a little more permanent.
Senegal is sort of the success story of West Africa, insofar as West Africa has a success story. On the plus side, Senegal has never had a civil war; never had a military dictatorship, or even a particularly obnoxious authoritarian ruler; has avoided serious ethnic and religious conflict; and has seen a peaceful transfer of power to the political opposition. Modern Senegal has free speech, a more or less free press, and a bajillion political parties. Meanwhile, the country's economy has chugged along with steady moderate growth, outpacing -- though not by much -- the rapid growth of the country's population.
That's the good news. The bad news... well, it's West Africa. Nearly half the country still under the poverty line. Crazy high unemployment. Way too much of the rural population trapped either in subsistence farming or in producing export crops that are at the mercy of international prices. Inequality is high. Exports don't begin to pay for imports. Tens of fhousands of Senegalese every year emigrate, legally or otherwise, to Europe and the US. The country's Human Resource indicators are... well, bad.
Wups, team just got back from their farm trip. More in a bit.