How the Aid Industry Promotes Poverty

How the Aid Industry Promotes Poverty June 8, 2007
Filed under: CODAC, Exploitation, NGOs, poverty, Africa — yeebo @ 4:26 pm
A new book, “The White man’s Burden” by professor of Economics at New York University, and a former employee of the World Bank argues that international development aid has become part of the problem of global poverty and not the solution. Care International, one of the global leaders of the aid industry, has also released a report, ‘Living on the Edge of Emergency — An Agenda for Change’ which also argues that “More than 120-million Africans face starvation because much of the £3-billion ($5,6-billion) in aid spent each year to help them is wasted.” According to Care International, “aid arrives too late, is targeted at the wrong things and is usually only a short term measure that doesn’t tackle the root cause of hunger…It is a disgrace that money is still given too late and for such short periods, then spent on the wrong things to truly fight emergencies … There is no excuse, when by spending money more intelligently, we can bring an end to all but the most unpredictable food crises” said Geoffrey Dennis, CARE’s chief executive. The statistics are quite disturbing. In the last 50 years, more than $2.3 trillion has been spent as development aid. So why are African children dying for lack of medicine costing less than $2? There are those who insist that contrary to the facts, history is not the cause of our poverty, but I am not one of them. Colonialism, neo-colonialism and now, globalisation, are the causes of this disturbing trend. The problem is that any attempts to take an independent path, free of this aid strings that tie us into other people cesspits, is always frowned upon by our new crop of leaders, and sabotaged by the international system led by the United States. Why has aid not helped to transform African economies? Why is it that the more aid a country gets, the more impoverished the people become. I ask these questions as someone which has worked in the aid industry for over 30 years. My first job after my post graduate studies was at the Upper Regional Agricultural Development Programme (URADEP), a World Bank-DFID programme for farmers in the Upper east region. Does anybody in the region remember FASCOM? In essence, we go back to the question posed by William Easterly in his book: that, “the West’s efforts to aid have done so much ill and so little good.” He gives examples like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) whose stated goal is to halve word poverty by 2015. However, his conclusions, are as porous as his attempts to be radical. It is true that the aid industry is full of grandiose policies and costly, and sometimes ineffectual campaigns like the MDGs, but what do they actually achieve? One of such western liberal projects is the Millennium Villages idea. What does this mean? In essence, what some western practitioners do is to plagiarise African initiatives, redress them in grandiose terms, sell them to donors, and make them sound as though this will solve the world’s problems. In the end, they don’t. Western NGOs, like their state-led development organisations, refuse to learn from their mistakes. Donor-led initiatives have a very short life span – they begin and end with donor money. When the funding comes to an end, the project dies with it. Secondly, in the last 20 years in Africa, development aid has been limited to workshops, workshops and workshops, led by the new NGO elites. Most of this has no practical relevance to poverty reduction. African NGOs are not blame. The priorities for aid and donor support are set in Washington, London, The Hague, and other western capitals. Africans are only invited to consultation meetings where what is discussed hardly features in the final reports. This is because aid is tied to the foreign policy interests of western donor nations. Organisations which call themselves non-governmental, receive more than 80%of their funding from the state: UK government, the US State Department, or the Danish Foreign Ministry, etc, etc. So even though some western NGOs may pretend to be ‘non-governmental’, they are governmental in practice. The Oxfams, Care International, International Rescue Committees, etc, etc, are closer to their governments than most African NGOs will ever be. Yet, I have been in meetings where African NGOs are derided and patronised by the their international counterparts because these African NGOs are supposedly close to their governments. At any rate, what is wrong with being close to a government? Look at the priorities of most donor organisations, and you will not fail to notice that building schools, health centres, day care centres, or social centres do not top the list of their priorities. Since September 11, US aid has tended to favour organisations working to eliminate ‘terrorism’, but what about the causes of terrorism? What this implies is that western donors have the money, and they together with their cohorts, dictate how this money is spent. Governments such as that of the NPP follow suit, and behave as though poverty is not the reason why they sign the Millennium Challenge Accounts. If this is the case, northern Ghana will receive more than 60%of this grant, but what has happened?

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Microcredit drives real development

Views on a powerful force: Posted by charlsking on June 14th, 2007

The extension of the small loans to the poor, who don’t qualify for the traditional bank loan, can be called as Microcredit. These small loans give the poor a chance to develop their business as well as to develop them financially. In microcredit system money is given to the people many times when they need it and for this reason it helps to generate monetary transaction. Ultimately the economy gets the necessary boost.

This program is better accepted by the poor women rather than the men because the women have proven to be the better manager of their loans; they pay them promptly most of the time. Naturally a woman is better controller of many things and it includes finance. Now they feel more confident about their future. They were suppressed either by others of by their husbands. Because most of the time they were dependent on them. Now as they earn their own livelihood and also help their child’s education, they feel comfortable and confident.

Some features of microcredit program:

Evaluating credit as a human right.

Helping poor families to overcome poverty by their own help.

Getting loans on trust.

Creating its own methodology for maintainance, not following the normal banking system.

Encouraging self employment.

Bringing the bank to the people to provide financial help.

Continuous flow of funds if paid in time.

Voluntary saving programs to the poor borrowers.

Availability of concurrent or simultaneous loans to the borrower.

Interest rates at lower than normal rate.

Giving high priority to establishing social capital and promotes education.

It also creates concern about the environment.

New fishery development at Sonda

fishees.jpg

The dam at Sonda now has a dual function, irrigation and Fish rearing.

The fish are Chambo, native only to Malawi.

The daily progress is recorded at http://www.blipfoto.com/wellsforzoe

The pic show a new stage of our development at Sonda. The following is Harison’s mail.

John,

I went to the Fisheries and bought 400 fish which I put in Sonda’s dam. The guys are very happy of the development.

Fish has a good market here in Mzuzu and we can as well try it. We are going to harvest them after 6 months.

Find attached pictures.

Regards to Mary and the family.

Harisen.

The dam was built, from soil, by the 4 men of the co op in April to irrigate the crops. I might add, at no cost to Wells for Zoe, except some advice and encouragement.
My suggestion about the fish has obviously been taken on board. It’s wonderful.
I’d love to be there, but my daughter Caitriona is enjoying the celebrations!
So watch this space.

Cuppa with a Cause

Harry’s Cafe bar, in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, held a fundraiser today in aid of Wells for Zoe. With all proceeds of coffees and teas going to help fund its projects in Malawi.
The pic shows John Waters, Irish Times Journalist and Author with proprieter Derek Bennett outside, in the rain today.
I took about twenty pictures but most have people rushing by, with and without umbrellas and getting “in the way”, such was the ferocity of the rain showers.
John was probably saying “when will this snapping stop”, I’m getting wet, or worse!!
The venture was a huge success, thanks to Derek’s generosity, which we greatly appreciate

Aids Aid and Helplessness

This country, Malawi, gets billions of dollars a year from the guilty developed world, trying to win a losing battle against an unknown silent killer.
Earlier this week I was told that “you people came here and insisted we grow maize as our staple crop and now you send Aid to try and cure our famine problems, with no idea what you are doing. You should all go home and leave us to solve our own problems: you have made us a nation of beggars unable to think for ourselves. We sit and wait for the next hand out, fertiliser coupon or white jeep, while our depleted land descends into oblivion, while we try and pretend that unsustainable artificial fertiliser will bring us more than fleeting relief.
I was being lectured to by a man I greatly admire and who was honoured with a doctorate by his government for his work on organic agriculture, in the back garden of his house at freedom gardens. (Well his 22 acre swamp farm)
He goes on “they (the Government) have all seen it, but do nothing” “they are obsessed with artificial fertiliser as a cure all”.
He adds, “All our plants here are grown without the use of fertiliser or pesticides”. Anyone can do it.
I was on my third visit booking in two new recruits for a week in this amazing place. The week costs 6000 MKw (about 31€) for bed, board and especially the hands-on training.
He tells me he has no agricultural training nor was he even a farmer, in a country where anyone who has the academic knowledge sits in an office admiring their piece of paper qualification and adminstering.
What has started me off was working with two young field officers of a local NGO and having worked with the Government Agricultural field officer in another area the day before.
They seemed to have a mission which was bounded by maize and fertiliser, they spoke of model gardens and composting, but hadn’t been involved in either. They had no seeds, no access to seeds, seedlings or knowledge of how to find the likes. They were fulfilling the role. Ministers without portfolio.
It looks as if they got a six month course on maize and maybe tobacco and were let loose to fend for themselves. Their superiors with the academic training and knowledge seem reluctant to part with any of their knowledge maybe for fear of lessening their status.
So excited were Minds and Frazier, from CADECOM (A dioscesan group working on food security and Aids), at the prospect of a dam and a model garden, that they took off their good clothes and shoes and got stuck into the work like the rest of us.

Frazier has decided that all the knowledge learned with us can be used on his own land. “I can do this for myself now”, commenting on the dam construction, in Elamuleni and composting methods used by the co op in Ecaiweni
This was always my simple ambition, that Malawians should teach each other with a little help from their friends, be that encouragement, technical know how or a bit of micro credit. The knowledge is there but doesn’t seem to pass over the next hill between villages. Sometimes I feel that it takes a white person’s, compliment, before people believe they are doing a good job.
We need to get them feeling confidant in their own abilities, which they undoubtedly have.
Did I mention the silent killer, which is everywhere, transmitted by teachers, nurses and other educated young people who should know better, driving sparkling jeeps, sent with a plan written in stone.
If I look at most areas where I work, in Malawi, I wonder where all the millions went in the past 20,30 or 40 years.
I speak of the deadly AID virus (not aids): the unstructured handout, the cheque in the post, the killer freebie, the idea that money can solve everything.
Malawians die waiting for it. They fail to sow their crops, waiting on coupons for fertiliser. They depend on the whities with the handout. They do become beggars. They unknowingly neglect their land, losing their spirit and dignity.
Malawi may be the poorest place on the planet, but let us give them their dignity of a better deal.
Let us stop sending them well paid graduates, with soft, clean hands and no common sense or practical side to their brain, instead send non graduates, who know what they’re doing, to be their mentors.

Malawi off track on primary education

Included to make a comment on statistics!

I only ever comment on what I see, and I have yet to see anything that might approximate to any type of decent primary education, in any village where we work. These are remote nad rural, but how can you teach up to 80 students who are sitting on a bare floor, looking at a white board, that was once black, with no chalk, no books, no copies, learning by rote from poorly or untrained teachers, who are paid one third the wage of nurses, (about €60 per month).

Contrast this with free University education, how dim can you be!!

The answer to so many issues in Malawi is good, appropriate primary education and more especially for girls. The enclosed article is more windowdressing and only shows what you can do with statistics. Get real.

Malawi off track on primary education
BY DICKSON KASHOTI
08:23:09 – 12 June 2007

Malawi is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for gender parity in primary and secondary education but off track in relation to universal primary education.

A draft report of the number of primary school age children in school and their survival to Standard 5 and adult youth literacy rate, says only a tiny fraction of those who enroll in Standard one complete primary school.

According to the draft joint programme review for 2006, which assesses the Ministry of Education, since the introduction of free primary education in 1994, the education sector has made significant progress with around 80 percent of primary age children now in school, saying gender parity has now been achieved at primary level.

“Literacy levels amongst young people have dramatically improved by 13 percent between 1998 and 2005. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain. Although access at primary level is good compared to many other countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region, 20 percent of primary school children are not attending school and quality continues to be low,” says the report.

The report says less than a third of children who enroll in Standard one complete primary school. Nearly a fifth of children repeat a year. Only three percent of Standard 4 students were recently assessed competent in Mathematics and English.

At secondary school level, the report says, access is poor: only 6,000 children started secondary school in 2005, saying this means only about seven percent of the children who started primary school in 2006 would have probably proceeded to secondary education.

“Quality at secondary also needs to improve: on average, 50% of secondary students fail the final exam. In addition, as the MGDs highlights, access to
tertiary education needs to expand if Malawi is to produce the professionals it needs to work, in hospitals, schools, business and government. On average, 1,300 students a year graduate from the universities of Malawi and Mzuzu,” says the report.

The report asks government to align national budgets with MGDs, saying the 2006/07 budgets were poorly aligned and this affected the quality of education.
Malawi is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for gender parity in primary and secondary education but off track in relation to universal primary education.

“Literacy levels amongst young people have dramatically improved by 13 percent between 1998 and 2005. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain. Although access at primary level is good compared to many other countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region, 20 percent of primary school children are not attending school and quality continues to be low,” says the report.

The report says less than a third of children who enroll in Standard one complete primary school. Nearly a fifth of children repeat a year. Only three percent of Standard 4 students were recently assessed competent in Mathematics and English.

At secondary school level, the report says, access is poor: only 6,000 children started secondary school in 2005, saying this means only about seven percent of the children who started primary school in 2006 would have probably proceeded to secondary education.

“Quality at secondary also needs to improve: on average, 50% of secondary students fail the final exam. In addition, as the MGDs highlights, access to tertiary education needs to expand if Malawi is to produce the professionals it needs to work, in hospitals, schools, business and government. On average, 1,300 students a year graduate from the universities of Malawi and Mzuzu,” says the report.

Madonna Says “Women Are The Future Of Africa”

I include a link to the article above.
For the first time I have something in common with Madonna, and that’s progress. Fair play to her if she highlights and improves the lot of Malawian women, who are wonderful and deserve a little hand up.

http://storiesonmalawi.blogspot.com/2007_06_12_archive.html

Los Angeles, CA (BANG) – Madonna believes “women are the future of Africa.” The singer, who was inspired to adopt Malawian orphan David after visiting the poverty-stricken region last year, is now working on a documentary to increase awareness of the plight of African orphans.

Madonna told Vanity Fair magazine: “I want to see girls with educations. I think women are the future of Africa.”

The pop superstar has teamed up with director Nathan Rissman to produce a film exploring the lives of the thousands of infants and children who have been orphaned, often as the result of HIV and AIDS.

Madonna said recently: “I asked one of the children in Malawi, ‘If you’ve got the world listening to you, if there’s one thing you could say to the world, what would you say? And the boy said, ‘Please just help us forget we’re orphans.’ ”

Madonna, 48, adopted 19-month-old David after traveling to Malawi to help build an orphanage as part of the Raising Malawi project in October. The “Material Girl” singer also has a ten-year-old daughter, Lourdes, from a previous relationship, and a son, Rocco, six, with her director husband Guy Ritchie.