Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The utter uselessness of aid in Africa......

 The truly depressing thing about living for so long in Africa is how aid achieves so little and in fact, is probably far more destructive than constructive.

Many people with the best intentions in the West spend a lot of time collecting and sending money to the African continent and it pours down the pit of greed, corruption, self-serving and incompetence like a torrent.

In the past 50 years some $3trillion in aid has come into Africa and the average African is worse off than they were 30 years ago. A few Africans are very, very, very rich.

There are moves by some nations who give a lot of aid to 'control' it by providing it as loans with conditions, but I would be prepared to bet that the Africans on the receiving end are not the least bit interested at the end of the day because they cannot milk it. Sad but true. Westerners caring desperately about poverty in Africa and Africans caring desperately only about lining their own pockets.

I would end aid, apart from emergency tomorrow I it was up to me. The West had to drag itself out of corruption, self-serving and incompetence by its bootstraps and everyone else should have to do the same. Only a fool keeps doing the same thing, no matter how many 'warm fuzzies' they might get from it, when it clearly achieves next to nothing, but momentary warm fuzzies for a few, the illusion of progress for some and it all spirals down the African drain anyway.

And Africa is awash in broken water pumps. Pay for a pump to go into a village and expect any or all of the following:

The local chief steals either all or part of it for a pump outside his own house; the local chief takes control of the pump and makes people pay for water; the pump breaks down and no-one has the skills to repair it or the money to buy parts......

  One particularly ludicrous example of Aid money ill-spent are the signs along the road from Lilongwe to Blantyre, in Malawi, telling people to wash their hands with soap after going to the toilet - the signs are in English and the local language is Chichewa, amongst others and the people can't afford soap and it would be the last thing they would buy. What lunatic came up with this idea which probably cost millions and achieves nothing.

The other factor which seems never to be taken into account is that when you build something - health clinic, school, water pump then there is a good chance the local chief will appropriate it and force people to pay to use it; that it will break down and no-one will have the skills to carry out the repairs; that it will break down and no-one will have the money or be prepared to find the money to repair it; that the 'parts' may be of more use than the whole and bits and pieces will be 'taken' over time, either to meet the needs of the local chief or to be sold by the desperate...... and on it goes.

Excerpt: One director of an African water charity speaking on condition of anonymity was scathing about how money was wasted. He described how corruption on the ground was rife, giving the example of how some international contractors paid more than $1,000 a day by water charities to drill boreholes had little concern for whether drilling was even appropriate, just as long as they kept themselves in a job. He concluded grimly: "If anyone ever told the truth, no one would give us anything." And this is the catch-22 many good charities find themselves in. They can keep quiet and watch money wasted in massive quantities, or expose the waste and risk damaging charitable giving to the sector as a whole.


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