Monday, July 27, 2009

Canada lost in Africa?

Or is it a case of Canada making changes to foreign aid to ensure that it effectively goes where it needs to go and not into the pockets of corrupt governments?

While reading this editorial, I was shocked... SHOCKED I tell you, that Canadian foreign aid was being shifted away from Africa. I mean, we've been giving aid to Africa for 40 years, how dare we stop it now.

Then I researched further and found THIS editorial listing the 3 African countries who are losing aid. Cameroon, Zambia and The Congo (doesn't say which one, because there're 2, but it really doesn't matter which one). Cameroon has a stable but corrupt government. Zambia has made some economic reforms, but 60% of the population still remains below the UN poverty line of $1.25 per day (average is almost $4 per day). The Congo? Both still see extensive fighting and neither one sees much development.

Who got more money? Countries in Latin America who have stable, democratic governments that are taking the aid money and developing their economies.

Hmmmm, so let's think about this... less money for poor corrupt African countries, more money for poor, less corrupt Latin American countries.

Nope, not seeing a problem here. There is a school of thought that we should stop development aid to Africa altogether. That the aid was hindering more than helping, and by sending aid (and increasing aid year in and year out), you not only increase dependance, but reduce the recipient country's need to develop an economy. It is also pointed out that increased developmental aid tempts many heads of state and government bureaucrats to steal from the pot, thus reducing the amount of aid that actually is used for development.

Some people say stop right now. I would say, stop it in 10 years. Give a timeframe that allows the recipients to make a conscious effort to reform their economies with a set time when the aid is phased out. This may make the aid more effective, but even if it doesn't, it allows us to stop giving aid that doesn't get used for the proper purpose.

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