29 April 2012
The Truth About Foreign Aid
Trillions of dollars of developmental aid have been given to Africa over the past sixty years. However, more than half of Africa’s people live on less than a dollar a day. This amounts to over 350 million people, a number which has doubled since the 1980’s (Moyo “Why”). Clearly foreign aid is not working effectively and is even hurting developing countries in the long run. The International Monetary Fund, a leading aid lender, has cautioned its donors about having hope in the developmental change that aid can achieve, and told governments and aid organizers not to be so exuberant in stating how aid can solve everyone’s issues (Moyo, Dead, 47). Shoving money into struggling economies, conflict ridden nations, and corrupt governments does not help in any way, and even causes a downward spiral of aid dependency. Foreign Aid, especially money from the World Bank, has been proven to be ineffective and harmful in the long run in Africa, and something needs to be done about it. In the 1990’s, there were 27 major armed conflicts around the world, and 17 of those conflicts were in Africa. Africa also receives more foreign aid than any other region of the world. There are other factors, such as the takeover of natural resources and tribal disagreements, that contribute to conflicts and wars, but foreign aid is another incentive for different political groups to try to take over a certain country. Countries that receive foreign aid become almost too desirable for factions to resist taking over because they want control over those resources. For example, some say that the civil wars fought in Somalia were fought for control of large-scale food aid (Moyo, Dead, 59). Also, when civil wars break out, aid agencies think that sending more aid, money or supplies, will help the problem or help the people affected, but really, in the long run, it just makes the conflict more heated because more is at stake (Easterly 151).
Foreign aid causes more corruption. Donors are rightly concerned that foreign aid money that is supposed to be used for development is being used to fund corrupt and unproductive expenditures. Experts say that 100 billion dollars of the World Bank’s loans for development have been used corruptly (Moyo, Dead, 52). Africa is known for its corrupt government officials. Monbutu, president of Zaire, stole five billion dollars from the twenty billion dollars the World Bank had given Zaire from 1965 to 1997. The sad thing is, the World Bank found out that Monbutu was stealing money in 1978 but did nothing to stop him and continued to give Zaire aid with no restrictions. Monbutu continued his greedy spending until he was finally cut off in 1990 (Easterly 149). In 2009 Bakili Muluzi, former president of Malawi, was accused of stealing twelve million dollars of aid money, showing that the problem is improving very little (Moyo, “Why”). Because aid is not kept track of very closely and aid conditions have been shown to be ineffective, it is easy for corrupt officials to use it for their own benefit. Development agencies tell people that aid helps stop corruption by providing funds for ethics training and creating higher wages for public officials so there will be no need for corruption (Moyo, Dead, 48). However, in reality this does little to help. If there was no aid, there would be nothing to tempt officials. Aid allows government officials to be lazy and not pay any attention to their people. Since the people do not have to pay taxes, because of the aid given to the country, they do not have a say in how the money is being used. This amounts to “no taxation without representation” in reverse. All that the government has to do is ask donors for the money and be poor enough to receive aid and they can stay in power without doing any work (Moyo, “Why”). Aid also allows corrupt governments to prosper and continue their rule...
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