Thursday, July 07, 2005

For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!

Please read this entire interview with Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati from DER SPIEGEL. My first impulse was to copy the entire interview.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa...

Shikwati: ... for God's sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

SPIEGEL: Even in a country like Kenya, people are starving to death each year. Someone has got to help them.

Shikwati: But it has to be the Kenyans themselves who help these people. When there's a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program -- which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It's only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it's not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa ...
He makes excellent points about the African AIDS crisis too. Rather than copy the whole thing though, I will be emailing the link to family and friends.

I'm sure that even if they read it, none of this would make an impression on the misguided folk demanding MORE aid for Africa. Their heads are messed up.

Part of the problem, of course, is that most of us have no understanding of basic Economics. I've been trying to catch up by reading Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman. I almost bought Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS, but I'm not quite ready for that monster.

You should also read Surrender or Starve, Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea by Robert Kaplan. It was originally published in 1988. I have the updated, reprinted 2003 edition. The same problems with corrupt governments causing famines and unneeded aid increasing the disasters are detailed in this book.

According to the Jewish sage Moses Maimonides there are eight degrees of charity, the highest being one which enables the recipient to gain self-sufficiency. In the case of Africa, this means, according to the interview, "just leave them alone". They can solve their problems if we stop treating Africa as a continent of invalids, and start treating them like fellow human beings.

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At 9:02 AM, Blogger Rancher said...

Hopefully the aid can be administered a little smarter than before. Bono of all people was saying the same thing. What’s necessary is bypassing the local governments and dealing with NGO’s that actually spend the money on the ground. I’d like to leave the UN out of the equation too.


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