Can Aid Solve Poverty in Africa?

Published on 19th January 2009

Although Africa is rich in natural resources, paradoxically, most of its countries are afflicted and pounded by domestic hunger, poverty, diseases, conflict, genocides, corruption, environmental degradation, and massive underdevelopment among others. From its natural resources, one would expect to see people enjoying  high standards of living. Instead, Africa is full of people still struggling for their basic needs. The unemployment rate in Africa is one of the highest in the world (36% to 42%)  since the year 2000.

Currently, Africa accounts for 1-2 per cent of world trade. A further 1 per cent increase in trade from Africa would be equivalent to five times the amount of aid the continent currently receives. Therefore, Africans have to remedy their weakness by developing good policies.

Development and prosperity calls for hard work. Unfortunately, in developing countries (especially in Africa) most of the rulers and the ruled see development as the result of foreign aid and donor hand-outs, rather than people’s own efforts. However, given its dismal development records, Africa and Asia falls short of being able to provide its people with adequate resources, to have even the basic capabilities to feed its population and prepare suitable ground for development, the need for foreign aid in these countries seems indisputable. Particularly, today, with soaring fuel and food prices, aid to Africa has even become more essential and timely.

Queueing for Aid-water
African leaders should promote the welfare of poor and innocent people in the continent and work hard to build amicable and amiable relationships among African communities. Above all, they must determine to promote Africa’s economic development, with competitive global markets, improvement of health, a more cohesive social structure, and better standards of living.

The gap between the rich and poor has been consistently increasing for the last few decades. On one hand are people who have more than enough while on the other hand are people who find it difficult even to get the bare minimum. Do we need such a huge difference between the economic conditions of the two groups? 

 The Aid given to Africa and most parts of the developing world (according to a BBC reporter in a January 1 2009 documentary) is literally misused. The Reporter ( who has covered Sierra Leone and Uganda as case studies) demonstrated to the world that the AID given by UNICEF, WHO and other International donors is  misused.  There are millions of poor people all over the world suffering from Malaria, Typhoid, TB, HIV/AID and malnutrition, among other problems, while their governments commit scandals associated with the “Aid”.  If this tendency continues, the problems in the poor countries would remain the same.

Foreign aid is valuable, if the recipient country benefits from it in the reduction and elimination of poverty, inequality and unemployment through promotion of work-culture. It can only be realized by bringing cultural transformation to the existing deep-rooted dependency and parasitism, through helping people to help themselves.

Our hearts bleed for these poor and innocent people in Africa who are forced to eat something out of the waste basket and are forced to put their mouth at the most intolerable and unthinkable places to get a few drops of water. We should “fight against all odds” to bring a positive change in Africa.

By Ravinder Rena

Ravinder [email protected] is currently working as Head of Economics, Department of Business Studies  at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. He has served in Eritrea for more than a decade.

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