Rethinking Foregin Aid

Bill Muehlenburg over at culture Watch has a new article up talking about foreign aid that I think is worth a read. The west has been giving so much aid to these countries for years (1 Trillion to African countries in the last fifty years) yet they still seem to be at the same level of development that maybe it is time to start looking at other ways to help these countries grow and develop.

Dambisa Moyo is an economist who has just penned an important new book called Dead Aid (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009). In it she argues that most overseas aid in fact creates more poverty, not less. She does not oppose all foreign aid, and certainly finds a place for disaster relief and emergency aid.

But she is against the usual pattern of Western governments propping up corrupt and lazy governments in the developing world. Most money going there never makes it to those who most need it, but stays in the hands of greedy and crooked leaders.

Indeed, decades of money being thrown at Africa has done very little good. Says Moyo, “In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse – much worse.”

She is also critical of so many the Western celebrities who run around holding rock concerts, thinking they are doing some good for world poverty. Far from it, says Moyo: “They perpetuate a negative view of Africa. All that comes out from them is what I call it the Four Horsemen of Africa’s Apocalypse: war, disease, corruption, poverty. They never say, ‘Wow, guys, let’s try and change people’s image.’ They focus very much on the negative. They’ve become the face of Africa, and that’s an artifact of the aid model.”

Instead of over-reliance on intergovernmental transfers, she prefers – in part – mechanisms such as micro-financing. She admits that this is not the only piece of the puzzle, but it is in many ways it is to be preferred to the current inefficiencies, corruption and waste of our overseas aid programs

Listening to Dambisa Moyo speak and articulate her points is certainly worth it as well. We need to move away from this welfare society that so many want to continue to perpetuate and she make great points about how we should do that for African countries.

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