So sang Kristofferson and Joplin after Bobby McGee left them heartbroken and bereft.
That may be true in the sense that relationships and possessions carry obligations which are fetters on your freedom.
Throughout Africa, freedom from colonial rule has led to continued corruption and tyranny, the destruction of agriculture and plunder of natural resources without regard for posterity and a disregard for welfare of the people, which will soon leave nothing left to lose.
In the supposedly more civilised ‘western world’, increased freedoms have led to the inability of governments to curtail or restrict the increasingly conflicted demands on the fiscus and the disempowerment of Police, Border Control and Armed Forces. Soon they too may have nothing left to lose, because everything is free.
But I digress.
I have recently done a course on What Works in Development Aid strategies
The course started off by saying that not many aid strategies worked because of the rip-offs by the empowered elites in recipient countries.
Somalis, Sudanese and Ethiopians are still starving after how many years and dollars of aid . In addition, because the development aid in health has been so successful, there are many more people doomed to hunger!
We are talking big money: $135 billion in 2014 spent by OECD countries alone!
The United Nations sustainable development goal number 1 is: to leave no-one behind by 2030. Cute, hey?
Perhaps consideration should be given to the existence of the development aid industry as a whole: from UN agencies, to government ministries, to universities to aid workers and supply chain operators – is it worth the significant expenditure of taxpayers dollars?
Should foreigners be intervening in sovereign states to prolong life expectancy in a world where natural resources are being depleted and destroyed by too many people?
Or is the development aid industry too entrenched to re-consider its roots. The disguise or suspicion of imperialism and market growth will remain.
Should we continue to shore up tyranny by removing the desperation of their populace, who eventually must be the authors of their own liberation? The alternative is the one that communism and agencies like the CIA instigated: arming people to enable them to confront abuses. Is the morality not the same?
The survival of our world is threatened by the wholesale destruction of our environment by unrestrained economies with burgeoning populations. The survival imperative is to safeguard resources. Economic and political interventions are apparently tenuous and entail the appeasement of tyrants for success, which is morally unpalatable.
Military intervention to impose and sustain appropriate institutions and practices is an alternative, but failed in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somaliland, Syria and is much more expensive and politically sensitive!
However, my putative rant hit a brick wall.
A little more research and thinking about the topic suggests that it is in fact very necessary expenditure:
- On average, the richer states spend only about 0.7% of their gross national incomes on aid (relatively insignificant)
- it curbs global spread of diseases
- it buys friends, allies and access to resources
- it provides markets…
- the aid industry employs many people at home and abroad; e.g.: in the US all aid supplies must be made in the US.
In 1990, 1.9billion (36%) of the the world population of 5.3 billion, lived in extreme poverty. In 2010, only 1.2 billion (18%) of the increased population of 6.8 billion, lived in extreme poverty. Aid is believed to have significantly contributed to this reduction in poverty and increased life expectancy and the eradication of a number of diseases.
It also definitely contributed to the 28% increase in population.
There are other secondary (or maybe primary objectives), like the renewed
scramble for Africa, illustrated by the numerous and significant projects
funded and manned by China.
It is ironic that China was one of the main supporters of the spread of communism in Africa, until its loss of credibility.
However, over 150 countries (of the 196 in the world) have committed
themselves to the United Nations Development Programme’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
This is where our hopes lie, as signatories can be held accountable to their commitments.