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WHy The Aid To Africa Has Failed? December 1, 2013

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Aid to Africa, Corruption, Development, Dictatorship, Economics, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Culture, Oromo Identity, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Uncategorized.
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“Never mind that Africa receives roughly $50 billion in aid annually from foreign governments, and perhaps $13 billion more from private philanthropic institutions, according to Penta’s estimate. Never mind that Angola’s oil revenues are around $72 billion, and Nigeria’s $95 billion; that Africa boasts at least 55 verified and somewhat detached billionaires. I can testify that Africa is much worse off than when I first went there 50 years ago to teach English: poorer, sicker, less educated, and more badly governed. It seems that much of the aid has made things worse.” 

Here is in the following the renowned author  Paul Theroux  discusses why Africa’s aid industry is in a mess. For the details and original source please refer to:

http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424053111903747504579185800700741812.html#articleTabs_article%3D1

‘In its naked reality, Africa, the greenest continent, is still the most beautiful, the least developed, the wildest on earth. Vast plains, big animals, hospitable people, who have been enslaved, sidelined, colonized, and converted willy-nilly either to Christianity or Islam. This receptive amphitheater of goodwill and big game, inspires megalomania among its foreign visitors who strut upon it — it has always done so, for those who seek the singularity of a little excitement and glory. I sometimes think that if the poorer counties of America’s Deep South had rhinos and elephants, instead of raccoons and possums, the philanthropists might direct their attentions to those parts, too.A rich white donor in black Africa is a study in high contrast that puts one in mind of the gallery of role models: Tarzan, Mr. Kurtz, King Leopold, Cecil Rhodes, Livingstone, Mrs. Jellyby, Albert Schweitzer, Hemingway, Henderson the Rain King: the overlords, the opportunists, the exploiters, the visionaries, the hunters, the care-givers, the baptizers, the saviors, all of them preaching the gospel of reform and seeking a kingdom of their own, if not an empire.Henry David Thoreau, the 19th-century American author, believed that all such outgoing people had something discreditable in their past that through giving they aimed to expiate. And all are characterized by the rather touching innocence of a billionaire faced with the brutal truth that the relative simplicity of acquiring wealth is nothing compared to the extreme difficulty of giving money away, for the common good.’

‘The real helpers are not the schemers and grandstanders of the eponymous family foundations or charities; they are nameless ill-paid volunteers who spend years in the bush, learning the language and helping in small-scale manageable projects, digging wells, training mid-wives, teaching villagers that unprotected sex spreads HIV; and among these stalwarts are the long-serving teachers who have liberated Africans by simply teaching them English, and are still doing so, even as they make the local governments lazier. The so-called White Fathers (the Society of Missionaries of Africa) I met in Malawi who ran upcountry clinics used to say, “I guess I’ll be buried here.” No one ever says that now, and significantly none of the people I spoke with for this piece ever expressed a wish to spend any serious length of time in Africa. None speaks an African language. To the detriment of their aims, they are on better terms with the African politicians than the common ruck of African people. Years living simply on the ground in Africa convinced me that there was more for me to learn from Africans than to teach. I saw there were many satisfactions in the lives of people who were apparently poor; many deficits in the lives of the very wealthy. I saw that African families were large and complex and interdependent; that old age was revered, that Africa’s link to the distant past — to the dawn of the world — was something marvelous and still intact in many places. Most of all, I was impressed by the self-sufficiency of ordinary people. Without much in the way of outside help, the people in the countries I knew managed to endure, usually through the simplest traditional means, and finally to prevail. Africa has the schools, the money and the resources to fix its own problems; it’s appalling to think of donors telling them otherwise, of the whole continent terminally indebted and living on handouts.’

‘Never mind that Africa receives roughly $50 billion in aid annually from foreign governments, and perhaps $13 billion more from private philanthropic institutions, according to Penta’s estimate. Never mind that Angola’s oil revenues are around $72 billion, and Nigeria’s $95 billion; that Africa boasts at least 55 verified and somewhat detached billionaires. I can testify that Africa is much worse off than when I first went there 50 years ago to teach English: poorer, sicker, less educated, and more badly governed. It seems that much of the aid has made things worse.   I am not alone observing this fact. In his new book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality, economist Angus Deaton questions the usefulness of all aid, and describes how the greater proportion of the world’s poor are found not in Africa but in the booming, yet radically unequal, economies of China and India. Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo calls aid a “debilitating drug,” arguing that “real per-capita income [in Africa] today is lower than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the population — over 350 million people — live on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has nearly doubled in two decades.” The Kenyan economist James Shikwati takes this same line on aid, famously telling the German magazine Der Spiegel, “For God’s sake, please stop.” There have, of course, been a few successes. For all his faults, Bill Clinton’s strong-arming of pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of one-a-day AIDS medications, to less than a dollar per pill, has delivered real relief to Africa’s most vulnerable. But we also need to be honest about such grandiose ambitions: Most fail. (For lessons on what to avoid and what to do in order to execute effective philanthropy in Africa, see the box at end of story.) The most recent example of a Westerner running amok in Africa appears to be the celebrity-economist Jeffrey Sachs and his $120 million effort to end extreme poverty there. Nina Munk documents in her book The Idealist (see Penta Sept. 12) how, among other things, Sachs’ Millennium Villages Project poured $2.5 million over three years into a sparsely populated community of nomadic camel herders in Dertu, Kenya, and trumpeted its success. In actual fact, the charity’s paid-for latrines became clogged and overflowing, the dormitories it erected quickly fell into disrepair, and the livestock market it built ignored local nomadic customs and was closed within a few months. An incensed Dertu citizen filed a 15-point written complaint against Sachs’s operation, claiming it “created dependence” and that “the project is supposed to be bottom top approached but it is visa [sic] versa.” ‘

African Philanthropy Done Right

Foundation Source is the philanthropic advisor and partner to over 1,100 family foundations. Penta asked the organization’s chief philanthropic officer, Page Snow, to provide some basic guidelines on how to successfully execute philanthropic projects in Africa. Her advice:

“Beware the panacea. Millions of dollars are wasted on overly ambitious projects claiming to be a ‘killer app.” Projects that employ tried-and-true interventions, narrower in scope, usually have far greater impact. Demand responsible management. Ask tough questions if money is flowing into a charity, but isn’t flowing out to charitable causes. Avoid duplication. Be aware of other efforts already on the ground and make sure that your program isn’t a wasteful repeat but, preferably, leverages off what’s there. Support local, sustainable solutions. Avoid short term fixes by always seeking input from locals; plan for them to run the project on their own in the long-run. Beware of poor infrastructure projects. Make sure wells are dug where they’re actually needed, that the bridges and roads are integrated into existing plans by government or other NGOs.Use technology intelligently. Over 90% of households across sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to electricity for their everyday needs, let alone power for laptops. Make sure locals have the skills, resources, and necessary tools to keep tech-dependent elements of your philanthropic project running. Be prepared to face corruption. Even when a project has been granted governmental approvals, there’s no guarantee of official cooperation; corruption and regional conflicts pose considerable challenges. Be culturally appropriate. Put on your anthropologist’s hat. Africans have their own process for dealing with grief and loss; Western-style grief counselors following a natural disaster or war aren’t appropriate.”

http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424053111903747504579185800700741812.html#articleTabs_article%3D5

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