Aid: A Dependency Culture

 

Agony does not sleep

South Sudan – Liberia – Malawi – Uganda – the nightmare continues:

For decades, Sudan has been torn apart by war and, famine rages. As of July 2011 Sudan is two countries; a northern Arab state and a predominately Black and Christian South Sudan. Over the years war has cost 1.5 million lives, the destruction and displacement is untold. Even today the conflict continues in the Darfur and tension is high in the Blue Nile region.

What future, what hope for such a ravaged landscape? Aid pours in relentlessly but to what effect? South Sudan is in the top 3 for humanitarian aid and in the top 10 for general aid. It has received over $4billion in aid since 2005. War, hate and distrust abound; the government of the north are accused of genocide against the people of Darfur. And the army of the new government in the south has been accused of human rights abuses in the Jonglei region.  There are border disputes, oil disputes; how soon before tension gives way to conflict? In such an environment it is so easy to impose or become dependent. In that scenario dependency just adds hopelessness to the existing nightmare.

The situation in Liberia is not a whole lot better. The Civil War may have ended in 2003 but there is still massive disruption in all walks of life. Liberia has the worse infant and maternal mortality rate in all sub-Sahara Africa. The UK recently gave another £8 million, the USA considerably more. Aid constitutes around 30% of gross income, yet the horror story continues.

Malawi has only recently been reintegrated into the world community. The late president was believed guilty of human rights abuses and the aid was suspended. When he died suddenly in April, his successor, Joyce Banda the vice president took over. She promised changes and the aid came flowing like a waterfall. Altogether the international aid donors sped $500 million to a beleaguered Malawi.

Same government – change of faces – loads of money!

The wheels on the bus…..  Sorry, it’s the cynic in me.

Aid now accounts for about 40% of gross income while 80% of the people survive at subsistence level in agriculture.

Uganda is a real horror story of aid not being any aid whatsoever! Most recently (12th October) it was reported that ten million Euros (€10m) given in aid had been frittered away, many suspect into Swiss bank accounts. The Irish, Swedish and Dutch governments are furious and are demanding an investigation. Their anger is justified but this is just one of a host of stories about corruption in Uganda. But, but, but the aid still pours in; £100m annually from the UK alone.

“Corruption thrives at a large scale in government”. Nicholas Kallingi. The Monitor.

  •          The World Bank estimates that Uganda loses $300m in corruption each year.
  •          The President has a private jet, the Prime Minister a new Mercedes.
  •         Auditors have found 7,600 ghost workers whose names appear in payroll & pension payments.
  •          Global Fund has given Uganda the lowest grant – of $300m to combat HIV, TB and malaria because of their concerns over corruption.
  •          NY Times, of Uganda – “…to be one of the most corrupt nations in the world”.

What is really sad is that Uganda could be a beacon state in sub-Sahara Africa. It has all the means necessary to be a strong, independent and wealthy country.

However:

In Uganda, US aid has ultimately created more problems than it has addressed. NY Times.

….aid has continued to stunt economic, democratic and private sector development in Uganda……..the country remains hooked to aid despite its rich mineral wealth.                    Observer (Feb 2012)

Moreover, several states in the region of sub-Sahara score very poorly on the Transparency International Perception Index. With ten (10) as a high, many score below five (5).

A crystal ball could not help the aid agencies. They have poured their Liberal guilt into Africa by the boatload and created an insipid mire.

A Genuine Legacy?

  •          Rwanda – 33% of income is aid.
  •          Liberia – 30%
  •          Malawi – 40%
  •          South Sudan – 40%+
  •          Uganda – 40%

    Help or hindrance?

Can anyone honestly say that these countries have not become dependent on aid? Not only have they become dependent on aid but that very balance of their economy determines the politics of these nations. It gives the incumbent government an enormous power of patronage which can be fully utilised to their advantage come election time. Thus elections may appear free & fair but there’s a whole shipload of buts here!   See Post: Made of Sand, Rwanda. Aid: Where Doubts Arise.

Aid – corruption – elections

You decide

Hope: An Internal Spring?

“Let us not become addicted to free things….people have learned how to be fed and not feed themselves”. Salva Kiir, President, of South Sudan. (2012)

“Money from rich countries has trapped many African nations in a cycle of corruption, slower economic growth and poverty”. Dambisa Moyo (2010)

“Huge bureaucracies are financed (with aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not independent”. James Shikwati (2005)

These statements make it abundantly clear that many Africans are conscious of their continent’s need. What is required now is a seismic shift from the aid donors in attitude and programme. Listen and learn; let there be an internal spring!

 

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