Update: “Rwanda Coffee Success Story” from William Easterly’s AidWatch (HT Texas in Africa)
Texas in Africa has a great related multi-part series of discussion questions May 4-7 about the Western approach to aid and development in Africa:
This week I’ve been trying to sketch an outline of how Westerners tend to develop and characterize our relationship with Africa and the people who live there, specifically with reference to the international aid and development system. I’ve argued that the savior mentality is misguided, that Africa is not rightfully ours to save, and that a better way to assist would be through a paradigm of empowerment. . . .
Today I want to conclude this series by thinking about what is probably the biggest barrier to moving into an empowerment paradigm: the governments that give and receive aid. . . .
Why? Because aid – for donor governments and the governments which receive the bulk of aid – is inherently political. Except in cases involving natural disasters or epidemic disease, donors don’t typically give freely to everyone out of the goodness of their intentions. Aid projects are funded at least in part (and sometimes entirely) on the basis of donor priorities. When aid projects take into account the real, expressed needs of recipients (which is, I’m glad to say, increasingly real for most project), they are often structured in such a way as to advantage suppliers or producers in the donor state, or to reward good governance or provide support to an ally.
As we might expect, there is often a contrast between donor goals and what is actually needed in order to improve the material situations of the recipients. . . .
NYTimes: “At Front Lines, AIDs War is Falling Apart”; “Paper Cuts: How Obama’s Father Came to Hawaii”; “Letters: From Kenya to America”
Reuters: Donors to slash Tanzania budget aid.
Nick Wadhams at NPR:“Somali Pirates Take the Money and Run, to Kenya”
The Times (London): Book review–“War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times by Linda Polman
Humanitarian aid prolongs conflict and misery because the bad guys learn how to exploit it”;
“Easy Money: the great aid scam”