Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Question of Foreign Aid

Many of you may have heard of Dambisa Moyo, who has written extensively on the consequences of foreign aid.

I came across this video today which is a brief look into her work. She discusses how foreign aid is not successful in reducing poverty and in some instances inflicts further incentives for corruption in Africa.

Dambisa brings up important questions for Tanzania and greater East Africa: How are we using regional ties to use foreign aid efficiently? Where else can money go other than the government?


  1. Dambisa is a fresh breath to the whole aid discourse. I am personally tired of hearing we still are heavily dependent on foreign aid after 40 years of independence.

  2. Awesome post! It is definitely true how foreign aid does cripple developing nations - there was much discussion about foreign aid going into Haiti after the earthquake and how funds should not only go to short term solutions but also to long term sustainable projects that would help Haiti stand up. In this context, there is a really good TED talk - http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jacqueline_novogratz_a_third_way_to_think_about_aid.html

  3. The thing about African leaders is that very few will reject foreign aid in exchange for self made long term poverty eradication. I totally agree that a better message needs to be passed to the rest of the world but I just don't think many African leaders are ready to struggle hard to raise their own GDP. Totally cut off their aid slowly or suddenly, they will survive. Just like teaching a baby to cease suckling its called growing up. More children are on the way, one cannot suckle the same baby to a tune of 1 trillion.

  4. While everyone is complaining, I am also going to go ahead and throw in my two cents.

    Why is it that African nations are seen as suffering? If we are suffering and "desperately" need the help of other countries such as the United States or from organizations such as the IMF, then can someone please tell me what the word "independant" means?

    Or, wait, perhaps I missed the boat that said we were actually still dependant, and are living in an age of neocolonialism, that has to do with the ownership of African intellectual property.

    Ah, yes. That thing. Intellectual property. What about that? Do we have so little of this that we complain about our governments, our funders, our people?

    I beg to differ. Africa has the kind of intellectual property that I like to call "commando mode". Struggling creative minds know how to survive on little in Africa. The starts and/or owners of car wash joints, cell phone charging kiosks, crop growers and sellers, as well as the idealist government bearocrat - all of these people can make a little come back as a lot to their families and communities.

    So why aren't they seeing the resources that can help them do more? Well, in some ways Dambisa is right - because all the foreign aid is going to corrupt beaurocrats who live in nostalgia of a time when "things seemed to work properly" (uh... ever consider that things works properly until you came to office?). But in other ways, we need to realize that THERE IS CAPITAL IN AFRICA. There might not be cash, but there is land, there is strong will and stamina, there are minds who are itching... let's work with those first before we discuss foreign aid.

    Apologies for the rant. Vijana FM, I look forward to reading more about the capacity-building conversation.

  5. From BBC today:

    Al-Shabab militants raid UN base in Somalia
    Islamist fighters train in Mogadishu.

    A hardline Islamist Somali militant group has taken over a United Nations compound in the south of the country.

    The fighters from the al-Shabab group, which is linked to al-Qaeda, disarmed guards at the base in Wajid near Baidoa, a BBC reporter says.

    The fighters seized computers from the World Food Programme, as well as control of the local airstrip.

    In February al-Shabab ordered the WFP to leave the country, saying Somalis should buy food from local farmers.

    Aid agencies say that up to half the population needs food aid.

    Al-Shabab controls much of southern Somalia, while the UN-backed government is only in charge of a small part of the capital, Mogadishu.

    Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8609096.stm

  6. Interesting post and interesting comments. Before all, I agree with Dambisa more than 50%. Africa still needs foreign aid, unfortunately so I guess the issue is how can we become self reliant.

    I find this all this talk about foreign and development very similar to the on going discussion about raising taxes in the US. How so will be the question. Someone mentioned "intellectual property" and gave examples of small scale business people. What these people are doing is very good, but is not enough when we come to talk about developing a country as whole, we can only look into things like that if we are talking about pockets of development but as moving a country forward, they can only do so much with what they do, but again, every long journey starts with one step.

    Now let me come with the whole US and foreign aid discussion and how they are somewhat similar. Republicans and their fellow tea party conservatives oppose the whole issue of raising taxes, the argument behind that is understandable. In contrast, same people are questioning where is CHANGE that Obama promised. What I find interesting is this, people dont want more taxes, people dont even want teh rich to be taxed more, but people want to see CHANGE, people want to see better life, if you ask me, this is the classic story of someone who planted paw paw seeds and got upset why a mango tree didn't grow instead.

    Now back to Africa and foreign aid, foreign aid is much needed, simply because most of African countries annual budget is peanuts to reach all the goals that want to be accomplished. Africans are poor, therefore governments cannot depend on tax money from the people, that will be impractical. However, back to what someone else mentioned, its unfortunate that, the foreign aid money that is supposed to help boost the annual budget is stolen by the few for their personal use.

    Foreign aid is still very important, and the clean up of corrupt governments need to be done soon. In conclusion, there is no one answer to the many problems that Africa faces today.

  7. It's nice to hear bold remarks that will hopefully aweken some people!

    Considering the fact that our revenue will never be enough, should our leaders concentrate more on some sectors? Or try divide whatever we have (plus the aids, of course) amongst all other ministries (bila kusahau kununua mashangingi)?