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Published on July 2nd, 2012 | by Ben Sayah
Image ©

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="566"] ©UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran  - Darfurians Receive Efficient Water Rollers[/caption]

Since the acceleration towards decolonisation, western emphasis on foreign aid to sub-Saharan Africa has remained one of the greatest activist ideas of our time. Mass public demonstrations; political debate; charity concerts; and unmitigated celebrity support, have all resulted in calls for African aid to consistently grow ever louder. With global financial aid to the sub-Sahara amounting to almost $1tl, and UK support estimated to be raised to £10bn by 2013, questions have begun to emerge concerning the implementation, credibility, and justification of overseas aid.

Overwhelming evidence shows that although overseas aid may have a moral social effect on the domestic community providing the aid, support to Africa has made “the poor poorer, and the growth slower”. An overall lack in high quality overseas investment has led to the sub-saharan region to become debt laden and more prone to high levels of inflation. This failure to attract foreign capital can ultimately be attributed to a wider failure in recognising the flaws of overseas aid. Foreign provisions have resulted in an over reliance on consistent donations. Although it is clear that international, humanitarian and charitable aid can benefit some communities, this is largely only effective when a state undergoes a temporary tragedy. In Asia overseas aid was beneficial - even though the tragedy was horrific - simply because its effects were environmental and ravished a relatively stable flourishing global economy. African economies do not hold the same foundations. Only investments and assistance in forming the basis of a successful economy can prove credible in supporting these aid driven nations; aid by its nature cannot provide a platform for any economy to eventually establish and support itself.

In most successful states a social contract is established between the government and its citizens. Although in the UK this contract is extensive and largely unwritten, the basis of many important interactions between Whitehall and the British public are made through this contract. One of the most simple of entitlements of any political contract involves the provision of public goods for citizens. In return for paying taxes, governments forge the basis of varied conditional welfare systems which protect the livelihood of its body politic. Successful governments are re-elected, and provided with the opportunity to fulfill its political intentions; however unsuccessful parties/leaders are ousted, blasted to the margins of public appeal until they can again convince the electorate of their credible leadership plans. Although other policies are integral, welfare often stands at the centre of this deal. For emerging states, aid disrupts the formation of a social contract and often results in widespread corruption. Instead of governments being reliant upon its citizens to elect them into another term, they become ancillary to foreign providers. “African governments rationally spend more time courting and catering to their donors than on their constituents”. In essence, aid undermines the social contract; states fail to represent their people, and fail to actively form the basis for the long term provision of welfare. This often leads to governments spending money and resources in other areas, some of which result in financing corrupt modes of stateplay.

A number of arguments for providing international aid ultimately result in a greater focus upon the national moral leadership of the ‘Great’ Britain. The United Kingdom is a nation of great prestige, which does hold an incredible basis in being a global director of scrupulous international influence. Although this in some regards, and some circumstances should be congratulated, it is not a means or reason in itself to provide aid for certain nations. The failure to recognise this is unfortunately embedded in a general inadequacy to distance national pride from logical reasoning behind the supervision of international aid. A separation of these two formulations is imperative if an intellectual and appropriate provision of aid is going to be established. No longer can we assume that Britain should be altruistic because it occupies a void left from colonialism, or fulfills a national moral supremacy. Aid should be provided because it is the right measure for the recipient, not the donor. Although UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has specified that the UK is of “great influence” in providing aid to foreign nations, we need to begin to think seriously as to what sorts of support we should be financing for other nations.

With finances for aid soon to increase to £10bn in the UK alone, what can be done to ensure that this huge sum of money can in future be focused towards effective means for long term support? Although vital in the short term - rather than focusing funds on food and water provisions, aid should aim to support the means for African industry, agriculture and economies to flourish and - over time - supervise itself.

This should start with greater provision of education: currently 60% of the sub-Saharan population are under 25; this extensive populous will prove integral to the formation of a stable future Africa, so an investment in their education will equally confirm this success.

Alongside this, drawing an aid spotlight on the enhancement of African business and industry production will also prove significant: As matters stand African countries remain the most difficult places to do business; widespread corruption in company with poorly financed local and international transport links make basic requirements for modern business almost impossible. Overall, international aid which provides and builds the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the basis for industrial development seems - more than anything - to be the best long term solution for these business difficulties.

Furthermore aid provisions focused on the development and enhancing of African agriculture could in future see sub-Saharan nations as global food providers, instead of recipients. Currently Africa accounts for 15.5% of the world’s arable land, however 60% of the globes untilled arable land also resides in the continent. Clearly Africa has the arable resources to become a key provider of its own - and the rest of the world’s - major food provider. If aid resources became a matter of educating farmers with new techniques and practices, and furnishing them with modern equipment, this could provide the long term platform needed to ensure the relinquishment of hunger and famine for millions across the continent.

We need to stop providing aid that is ultimately failing to provide any long term solution to political and social problems in the sub-Sahara. Rather than subjugating these people to infinite western suppression under the supremacy of aid, we seriously need to begin to allow - and provide the requirements for - these nations to stabilise themselves as serious industrial, economic and agricultural competitors. Only long term solutions can alleviate long term suffering.

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International Aid: What works?

©UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran  – Darfurians Receive Efficient Water Rollers

Since the acceleration towards decolonisation, western emphasis on foreign aid to sub-Saharan Africa has remained one of the greatest activist ideas of our time. Mass public demonstrations; political debate; charity concerts; and unmitigated celebrity support, have all resulted in calls for African aid to consistently grow ever louder. With global financial aid to the sub-Sahara amounting to almost $1tl, and UK support estimated to be raised to £10bn by 2013, questions have begun to emerge concerning the implementation, credibility, and justification of overseas aid.

Overwhelming evidence shows that although overseas aid may have a moral social effect on the domestic community providing the aid, support to Africa has made “the poor poorer, and the growth slower”. An overall lack in high quality overseas investment has led to the sub-saharan region to become debt laden and more prone to high levels of inflation. This failure to attract foreign capital can ultimately be attributed to a wider failure in recognising the flaws of overseas aid. Foreign provisions have resulted in an over reliance on consistent donations. Although it is clear that international, humanitarian and charitable aid can benefit some communities, this is largely only effective when a state undergoes a temporary tragedy. In Asia overseas aid was beneficial – even though the tragedy was horrific – simply because its effects were environmental and ravished a relatively stable flourishing global economy. African economies do not hold the same foundations. Only investments and assistance in forming the basis of a successful economy can prove credible in supporting these aid driven nations; aid by its nature cannot provide a platform for any economy to eventually establish and support itself.

In most successful states a social contract is established between the government and its citizens. Although in the UK this contract is extensive and largely unwritten, the basis of many important interactions between Whitehall and the British public are made through this contract. One of the most simple of entitlements of any political contract involves the provision of public goods for citizens. In return for paying taxes, governments forge the basis of varied conditional welfare systems which protect the livelihood of its body politic. Successful governments are re-elected, and provided with the opportunity to fulfill its political intentions; however unsuccessful parties/leaders are ousted, blasted to the margins of public appeal until they can again convince the electorate of their credible leadership plans. Although other policies are integral, welfare often stands at the centre of this deal. For emerging states, aid disrupts the formation of a social contract and often results in widespread corruption. Instead of governments being reliant upon its citizens to elect them into another term, they become ancillary to foreign providers. “African governments rationally spend more time courting and catering to their donors than on their constituents”. In essence, aid undermines the social contract; states fail to represent their people, and fail to actively form the basis for the long term provision of welfare. This often leads to governments spending money and resources in other areas, some of which result in financing corrupt modes of stateplay.

A number of arguments for providing international aid ultimately result in a greater focus upon the national moral leadership of the ‘Great’ Britain. The United Kingdom is a nation of great prestige, which does hold an incredible basis in being a global director of scrupulous international influence. Although this in some regards, and some circumstances should be congratulated, it is not a means or reason in itself to provide aid for certain nations. The failure to recognise this is unfortunately embedded in a general inadequacy to distance national pride from logical reasoning behind the supervision of international aid. A separation of these two formulations is imperative if an intellectual and appropriate provision of aid is going to be established. No longer can we assume that Britain should be altruistic because it occupies a void left from colonialism, or fulfills a national moral supremacy. Aid should be provided because it is the right measure for the recipient, not the donor. Although UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has specified that the UK is of “great influence” in providing aid to foreign nations, we need to begin to think seriously as to what sorts of support we should be financing for other nations.

With finances for aid soon to increase to £10bn in the UK alone, what can be done to ensure that this huge sum of money can in future be focused towards effective means for long term support? Although vital in the short term – rather than focusing funds on food and water provisions, aid should aim to support the means for African industry, agriculture and economies to flourish and – over time – supervise itself.

This should start with greater provision of education: currently 60% of the sub-Saharan population are under 25; this extensive populous will prove integral to the formation of a stable future Africa, so an investment in their education will equally confirm this success.

Alongside this, drawing an aid spotlight on the enhancement of African business and industry production will also prove significant: As matters stand African countries remain the most difficult places to do business; widespread corruption in company with poorly financed local and international transport links make basic requirements for modern business almost impossible. Overall, international aid which provides and builds the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the basis for industrial development seems – more than anything – to be the best long term solution for these business difficulties.

Furthermore aid provisions focused on the development and enhancing of African agriculture could in future see sub-Saharan nations as global food providers, instead of recipients. Currently Africa accounts for 15.5% of the world’s arable land, however 60% of the globes untilled arable land also resides in the continent. Clearly Africa has the arable resources to become a key provider of its own – and the rest of the world’s – major food provider. If aid resources became a matter of educating farmers with new techniques and practices, and furnishing them with modern equipment, this could provide the long term platform needed to ensure the relinquishment of hunger and famine for millions across the continent.

We need to stop providing aid that is ultimately failing to provide any long term solution to political and social problems in the sub-Sahara. Rather than subjugating these people to infinite western suppression under the supremacy of aid, we seriously need to begin to allow – and provide the requirements for – these nations to stabilise themselves as serious industrial, economic and agricultural competitors. Only long term solutions can alleviate long term suffering.

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