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Thread: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    If I were dictator of the world, I'd relocate all the people from Africa and make it one big game reserve. But I'm not.


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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    I have been thinking this for quite some time although I think most charity should also be removed to help reign in the populations of Africa.

    What do you think?
    I've come to a similar conclusion about two years ago. The problem with African Aid is that it does not promote the type of help Africa needs. For instance, the West donates huge amounts of food to alleviate malnutrition. This has the effect on completely decimating prices thus destroying any economic growth in the agricultural sector. So Africans stop farming because they can't make a living on it it. So less food is locally produced. You can see where this ends up. Coupled with lack of reproductive health choices causes land to be split into smaller and smaller plots of land and growing families, families slip further into poverty. Small farms can be alleviated somewhat with fertilizers, proper planting techniques and special seeds, but those are way out of the price ranges for these people.

    Second, aid generally doesn't do clinical economics as Jeffery Sachs likes to call it. It's a one size fits all for the most part. Medical and food. Remember that virtually every country on the planet built its economy on the foundation of its agriculture. By denying African countries a stable agricultural base the options for successful development are quite sad. What we see today is African development based off of mineral wealth. But mineral wealth results in a form of dutch diease, something most countries, developed and developing are poor at managing. For instance, what does Nigeria export? Hydrocarbons. Can you think of anything else? Mineral wealth can only get you so far and in a continent notorious for incompetent dictators, we won't likely be seeing a South Korean model of taking profits from mineral wealth and using them to expand industries for long term future growth.

    Third, and this is something many people don't quite seem to understand is that development aid can all go up in smoke in places like Africa. Kenya was a perfect example of where civil strife that is based in a tribal context can turn what was considered the Jewel of developing Africa into a literal **** storm. We need to break Africa of the tribal system if it is to truly develop. Or we will see civil conflicts on tribal tensions cause development and foreign aid gains to disappear.

    There is one area of foreign aid that we should be promoting, even throttling up. Eradication of Aids and Malaria. The impact of those on the economies of African nations is immense. Huge portions of the workforce are completely eliminated, huge amounts of education and work hours lost. If we could eliminate those two, Africa could develop exponentially. Even if we solve nothing else, eliminating those two would do Africa wonders.
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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    It depends where and how the foreign aid is spent. I agree that a lot of that money is wasted. Money spent in Somalia or Zimbabwe is basically just disappearing into a black hole, because almost none of it gets to the people who need it.

    Similarly, giving money to African nations to fight AIDS is the fashionable thing to do...but in many parts of Africa, there are much more deadly (but less sexy) diseases that ravage the country, such as influenza and tuberculosis.
    That is not entirely true. Africa is one hell of a big place and has many different problems depending on location.

    AIDs is a HUGE problem in certain countries, mostly in Sub Saharan Africa, where as in others it is not the main problem. In the west we barely have infection rates that go over 0.1 to 0.5% of the population, but it is estimated that in some African countries the HIV infection rate up to 20+% of the adult population. Now I know it is very hard to get accurate numbers, however if these estimates are even remotely true, then the impact on the population is devastating. In places like Uganda, Botswana and other Sub Saharan countries with high infection rates, the local economy and social fabric has been devestated due to the HIV spread and death rates.

    Unlike in the west, being infected with HIV in Africa is a death sentence pretty much. When the adults die, they leave uninfected children or even worse, infected children. So soon you have whole generations being taken out by mass deaths due to AIDs, and this creates huge problems for the economies of said nations, in the short and medium turn.

    Plus people hit with HIV die more than often from things like influenza and other "normal sicknesses" because that their immune systems are compromised.

    So I wouldn't say that we need to eliminate all foreign aid. I just think that we should bypass most of their national governments and give it directly to charities, and we need to target it more to the needs of individual countries instead of thinking of "Africa" as a monolithic entity.
    Well that would depend on the country. But most aid does go to specific projects and not in a "lump sum" to governments. As for giving to charities.. well I am sceptical of that too. There are just as many "scam" charities out there that exploit the situation for their own personal need. May it be financial, political or religious.

    To me the government run or international accepted charities (Red Cross, UNICEF and so on) are the best way of doing it, as long as the government run systems are not used to promote a political ideology over common sense. If they are, then they are no better than the religious based charities that only use the plight of Africa to spread the "good word" (regardless of religion) and that in turn contributes to the instability of the region....
    PeteEU

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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    Microfinancing seems like Africa's best shot at developing some industries. That and proper water management for farming. If Israel could do it, why not Africa? Zimbabwe, once Mugabe finally croaks or falls to an assassin, seems like a great place to try and influence positively for agricultural growth. They were producing a food surplus before their dictator came along, and Morgan Tsvangrai (however you spell it) seems nice and sane as a potential new leader.
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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    There is a very good debate on this on Intelligence Squared - Home you can get the podcast on itunes.

    Its a complex subject but i think there is no doubt some aid is based on people making themselves feel good than actually helping people.
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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Korimyr the Rat View Post
    Africa does not suffer from overpopulation.
    Not as a whole perhaps, but in cultivated areas it may. Typically farming land is split up between the sons in a family. As population has increased the land clearly hasn't. Thus smaller and smaller plots of land are being forced to support growing populations. The white farms of Africa operated on economies of scale and thus didn't have to divide up crops merely to survive. Mugabe's land "reform" put Zimbabwe into the same system as the rest of Africa. Reducing populations on plots of land would help the problem. Instead of a small plot of land supporting two adults and six children which will then be divided into three plots of land between the three sons, the same size plot of land would support two adults, one son, and one daughter. The land then gets inherited by the one son, no division. As the son doesn't use up all of the crops, he sells some and sends his kids to school. Dividing the plots among growing populations strips them of their profits. No profits = No education. No education is the death of a country.
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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by obvious Child View Post
    Not as a whole perhaps, but in cultivated areas it may. Typically farming land is split up between the sons in a family. As population has increased the land clearly hasn't. Thus smaller and smaller plots of land are being forced to support growing populations. The white farms of Africa operated on economies of scale and thus didn't have to divide up crops merely to survive. Mugabe's land "reform" put Zimbabwe into the same system as the rest of Africa. Reducing populations on plots of land would help the problem. Instead of a small plot of land supporting two adults and six children which will then be divided into three plots of land between the three sons, the same size plot of land would support two adults, one son, and one daughter. The land then gets inherited by the one son, no division. As the son doesn't use up all of the crops, he sells some and sends his kids to school. Dividing the plots among growing populations strips them of their profits. No profits = No education. No education is the death of a country.
    What astounds me is that there are primitive methods of doing things that they don't use.

    Water filtration, food preservation etc. What aren't these aid organizations do anything to teach them some amount of self preservation.
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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    What astounds me is that there are primitive methods of doing things that they don't use.

    Water filtration, food preservation etc. What aren't these aid organizations do anything to teach them some amount of self preservation.
    The aid organizations to me always seem like they are merely there to stop the current hemorrhaging, not fix the problem to prevent future hemorrhaging. Dafur for example. The aid organizations there are to help prevent or slow disease and starvation. They aren't seriously actively trying stop the fundamental reason why people are suffering from diease and starvation: the civil war. True they are lobbying governments, but they aren't toppling the government.

    To be accurate those, some organizations are providing water filtration through new technologies like simple UV sanitation.
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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteEU View Post
    That is not entirely true. Africa is one hell of a big place and has many different problems depending on location.

    AIDs is a HUGE problem in certain countries, mostly in Sub Saharan Africa, where as in others it is not the main problem. In the west we barely have infection rates that go over 0.1 to 0.5% of the population, but it is estimated that in some African countries the HIV infection rate up to 20+% of the adult population. Now I know it is very hard to get accurate numbers, however if these estimates are even remotely true, then the impact on the population is devastating. In places like Uganda, Botswana and other Sub Saharan countries with high infection rates, the local economy and social fabric has been devestated due to the HIV spread and death rates.

    Unlike in the west, being infected with HIV in Africa is a death sentence pretty much. When the adults die, they leave uninfected children or even worse, infected children. So soon you have whole generations being taken out by mass deaths due to AIDs, and this creates huge problems for the economies of said nations, in the short and medium turn.
    I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of parts of Africa that have been devastated by HIV...just that that isn't true everywhere. For example, in West Africa and Central Africa, the countries are virtually flooded with aid money to fight HIV that most of them don't need...yet they don't get nearly as much money to address things that actually *are* a problem in their country, such as contaminated drinking water.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteEU
    Plus people hit with HIV die more than often from things like influenza and other "normal sicknesses" because that their immune systems are compromised.
    True...but those "normal sicknesses" are a much bigger problem than HIV in many parts of Africa.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteEU
    Well that would depend on the country. But most aid does go to specific projects and not in a "lump sum" to governments. As for giving to charities.. well I am sceptical of that too. There are just as many "scam" charities out there that exploit the situation for their own personal need. May it be financial, political or religious.
    This is true, but most charities are not like that. There are plenty of charities to help Africa that are very reliable and honest...unfortunately the same cannot be said of African governments. I can count the number of reliable and honest African governments on one hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteEU
    To me the government run or international accepted charities (Red Cross, UNICEF and so on) are the best way of doing it, as long as the government run systems are not used to promote a political ideology over common sense. If they are, then they are no better than the religious based charities that only use the plight of Africa to spread the "good word" (regardless of religion) and that in turn contributes to the instability of the region....
    I don't even really have a problem with charities telling people about their political/religious beliefs, as long as receiving the aid isn't conditional on acceptance of those beliefs, and as long as the beliefs they are promoting aren't actively harming the communities (such as Catholic charities misleading people about condoms). If some charity just wants to tell people about Jesus while they're handing out food, I really don't mind that.

    However, your point about ideology infecting the foreign aid process is well taken. In that aspect, I think many Western nations could learn from China. China seems to have developed a system of economic aid that isn't conditional on accepting any ideologies...and it seems to be working quite well. China's only interest is finding business partners, not promoting human rights, and it actually seems to be doing more to promote human rights than a lot of Western aid does.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 03-21-09 at 11:36 PM.
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    Re: Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by obvious Child View Post
    The aid organizations to me always seem like they are merely there to stop the current hemorrhaging, not fix the problem to prevent future hemorrhaging. Dafur for example. The aid organizations there are to help prevent or slow disease and starvation. They aren't seriously actively trying stop the fundamental reason why people are suffering from diease and starvation: the civil war. True they are lobbying governments, but they aren't toppling the government.

    To be accurate those, some organizations are providing water filtration through new technologies like simple UV sanitation.
    That is a serious problem, it makes me rethink any notion I have of donating to an African charity.

    They need to help fix it and not band aid it.

    Using materials available would be a much wiser option in my opinion.

    A hollow stick, a piece of charcoal, some sand and grass, then you assemble it and you have a crude but effective water filter.

    Using to much technology in an non technological world has a short term life.
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