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There are numerous forms of aid, from humanitarian emergency assistance, to longer term development aid. Some provide food aid, or military assistance, but all these forms of aid seem to be accompanied with criticism, either around inefficiency of delivery, or of political agendas or more. This section attempts to look at some of these issues.
6 articles on “Aid” and 4 related issues:
Foreign Aid for Development Assistance
In 1970, the world’s rich countries agreed to give 0.7% of their gross national income as official international development aid, annually.
Since that time, billions have certainly been given each year, but rarely have the rich nations actually met their promised target.
For example, the US is often the largest donor in dollar terms, but ranks amongst the lowest in terms of meeting the stated 0.7% target.
Furthermore, aid has often come with a price of its own for the developing nations. Common criticisms, for many years, of foreign aid, have included the following:
- Aid is often wasted on conditions that the recipient must use overpriced goods and services from donor countries
- Most aid does not actually go to the poorest who would need it the most
- Aid amounts are dwarfed by rich country protectionism that denies market access for poor country products while rich nations use aid as a lever to open poor country markets to their products
- Large projects or massive grand strategies often fail to help the vulnerable; money can often be embezzled away.
This article explores who has benefited most from this aid, the recipients or the donors.
Read “Foreign Aid for Development Assistance” to learn more.
Food aid is a crucial part of helping tackle world hunger. However, food aid comes in various forms, and is often criticized for benefiting donors and their interests more than recipients. For example, during the Cold War in particular, food dumping was common place. Today long term food aid is giving way to emergency relief. While this is important it also has its challenges. Ultimately it seems that food aid still helps the rich more than the poor. This section provides an overview of food aid.
Read “Food Aid” to learn more.
Military aid can be controversial. Its stated aim is usually to help allies or poor countries fight terrorism, counter-insurgencies or to help suppress drug production.
Military aid may even be given to opposition groups to fight nations, which was commonplace during the Cold War where even dictatorships were tolerated or supported in order to achieve geopolitical aims.
The aid may be in the form of training, or even giving credits for foreign militaries to purchase weapons and equipment from the donor country.
It is argued that strengthening military relationships can strengthen relationships between nations and military aid may be a way to achieve that. But it seems some aid goes to oppressive regimes which may help with geopolitical aims but may not necessarily help people of the recipient nation.
Read “Military Aid” to learn more.
Food Aid as Dumping
The way the food aid programs of various rich countries is structured may be of concern. In fact, food
aid (when not for emergency relief) can actually be very destructive on the economy of the recipient nation. Dumping food on to poorer nations (i.e. free, subsidized, or cheap food, below market prices) undercuts local farmers, who cannot compete and are driven out of jobs and into poverty, further slanting the market share of the larger producers such as those from the US and Europe.
Read “Food Aid as Dumping” to learn more.
Myth: More US aid will help the hungry
With kind permission from Peter Rosset of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (or FoodFirst.org as it is also known), chapter 10 of World Hunger: 12 Myths, 2nd Edition, by Frances Moore Lappé, Joseph Collins and Peter Rosset, with Luis Esparza (fully revised and updated, Grove/Atlantic and Food First Books, Oct. 1998) has been posted here. It describes in detail the issue of food aid and the United States of America’s aid policies, the problems it causes and who it really benefits.
Read “Myth: More US aid will help the hungry” to learn more.
Non-governmental Organizations on Development Issues
What does an ever-increasing number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) mean? NGOs are non-profit organizations filling the gap where governments will not, or cannot function. In the past however, some NGOs from the wealthy nations have received a bad reputation in some developing nations because of things like arrogance, imposition of their views, being a foreign policy arm or tool of the original country and so on. Even in recent years some of these criticisms still hold. However, recently some new and old NGOs alike, have started to become more participatory and grassroots-oriented to help empower the people they are trying to help, to help themselves. This is in general a positive turn. Yet, the fact that there are so many NGOs popping up everywhere perhaps points to failures of international systems of politics, economics, markets, and basic rights.
Read “Non-governmental Organizations on Development Issues” to learn more.
Food Dumping [Aid] Maintains Poverty
Food aid (when not for emergency relief) can actually be very destructive on the economy of the recipient nation and contribute to more hunger and poverty in the long term. Free, subsidized, or cheap food, below market prices undercuts local farmers, who cannot compete and are driven out of jobs and into poverty, further slanting the market share of the larger producers such as those from the US and Europe. Many poor nations are dependent on farming, and so such food
aid amounts to food dumping. In the past few decades, more powerful nations have used this as a foreign policy tool for dominance rather than for real aid.
Read “Food Dumping [Aid] Maintains Poverty” to learn more.
Read “Sustainable Development” to learn more.
Read “Natural Disasters” to learn more.
Causes of Poverty
Poverty is the state for the majority of the world’s people and nations. Why is this? Is it enough to blame poor people for their own predicament? Have they been lazy, made poor decisions, and been solely responsible for their plight? What about their governments? Have they pursued policies that actually harm successful development? Such causes of poverty and inequality are no doubt real. But deeper and more global causes of poverty are often less discussed.
Read “Causes of Poverty” to learn more.
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