Grey Thoughts
Charity - The Failure of Aid
Helen Hughes provides a reality check for those who thinks writing cheques will solve the worlds poverty problems. From her article at Online Opinion
Nevertheless, the number of displaced Africans has grown to 40 million, deserts have spread and African agricultural production is down so that even where people have not been driven from their homes, millions are starving.

Western generosity - government-to-government aid, concessional loans by multilaterals and relief contributions by non-government organisations - has played a role in these outcomes. Cynical, inept and corrupt African leaders have not only been able to borrow to fund their extravaganzas but have continued to victimise their people knowing that the West will come to rescue those who escape alive.

Giving people money is not sufficient to changing their conditions in the long term (generally). This is because money does not help them to grow or learn, but merely allows them to continue on without these experiences. It may even be the case that AID given has allowed corrupt and repressive regimes to stay in power a lot longer than before thus increasing the amount of suffering.

An article in The Independent on 'Mozambique: The nation that proves aid works' also makes this case, although you wouldn't know it by the headline. As Scott over at the Daily Ablution says
Perhaps the headline should read: "The nation that proves aid works - if accompanied by privatisation, market reforms, and a multiparty electoral system."

So let me reiterate. Giving money is not enough. It never has been and never will be. Training, security, a free market and democracy are essential to any recovery. This means people need to get involved in more than just signing a cheque. People need to get their hands dirty.

Update: Tino, swedish blogger provides a good reminder that the US is leading the world in most spheres, including AID.
In Official Development Aid, the US gave 19 billion dollars in 2004, 25% of world total. This is a doubling since Bush came into office. The US gives 60% of all world food aid, saving million from hunger every day.

Unlike most nations, the ODA is only a small part of American Aid. In total, Americans (mostly the private sector) give some 60 billion $ each year, again dwarfing any other nation. Scholarships given by American Universities to poor students from the thirds world amount to 1.3 billion dollars, the same as the entire foreign aid given each year by Switzerland!
I wonder how they would do if foreign aid workers were counted? I would be interested to know how foreign workers getting their hands dirty in those in countries accepting aid are Christian?

Update 2: Spiegel has a related article which raises some very good points.
portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It's a simple but fatal cycle.
I hadn't thought about this, but the huge amount of cheap food coming in would cripple any local agriculture. The same goes for clothing and the like sent as aid. Economically, AID seems to cripple the local economy, as much as constantly spoiling a child cripples them emotionally.

Read the whole thing.

Update 3:
The Daily Demarche has a copy of related posts here and here.
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