The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the negative effects of aid in Africa. Certainly this view is not new, nor is it a consensus among experts; certainly Jeffrey Sachs will tell you something different. But it is certainly an interesting read. Below some of what Moyo explains:
“Yet evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that aid to Africa has made the poor poorer, and the growth slower. The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment… Over the past 60 years at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet real per-capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the population — over 350 million people — live on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has nearly doubled in two decades“.
The article paints a pretty tragic picture, which seems accurate and well supported, but also I can testify from some empirical evidence on my own. When I was a volunteer in Bhutan, I saw UN money being casually wasted on nothing. In the highlands of Peru, you can see hundreds of failed projects scattering the landscape. While Moyo attributes the cause to a lack of a solid economic trajectory, I think the causes go deeper. As I posted a few weeks ago, I think this has to do with a problem we face in the West. It’s a problem of the materially rich, and morally and spiritually poor. What we do is a reflection of who we are. The Pope nails it here:
“[Western Aid] ‘purely technically and materially based… has left God out of the picture [and] has driven men away from God’ is in fact responsible for the situation of disparity turning the ‘“third world” into what we mean today by the term. It has thrust aside indigenous religious, ethical and social structures and filled the resulting vacuum with its technocratic mindset. The issue is the primacy of God’.
‘…the peoples of Africa, lying robbed and plundered, matter to us. Then we see how deeply they are our neighbors; that our lifestyle , the history in which we are involved, has plundered them and continues to do so… Instead of giving them God, the God who has come close to us in Christ, which would have integrated and brought to completion all that is precious and great in their own traditions, we have given them a cynicism of a world without God in which all that counts is power and profit, a world that destroys moral standards so that corruption and unscrupulous will to power are taken for granted. And that applies not only to Africa.’”