News: "Please Stop the Aid!"

In an article in Der Spiegel, the Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, says aid to Africa does more harm than good. He explains the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem. Even though it is an older article (which hit again today), the question is still a right one to ask today.

To be honest, as an aidworker with a conscience, I often struggle within myself "if we really make a difference". In both general and in specific cases. Up to what level can we, "the West", "the Industrialized Nations", stand by and watch poverty, decease, starvation, lack of education take its toll in poorer countries. And as of what level is the aid we are providing, starting a vicious circle of making people dependent on this foreign aid. Corrupting their economy? When do we stop? And how do we stop? How do we, the aid agencies, ensure that we do not fall into a trap of 'inventing aid-needs' just to ensure we still have a job?

Even more so, and a more burning question: in what way, do we, "the West", "the Benefactors", have OUR economy stimulated through our own foreign aid? In what way is foreign aid just a way to offload the excess commodities we produce in our heavily subsidized economy, and thus act in a very selfish way?

In what way have we, the humanitarians, become so effective during the aftermath of armed conflicts in eliminating the human suffering fast, that in the end we indirectly encourage armed conflicts? Would there be less armed conflicts if the 'humanitarian consequences" were graver, and hit the media harder?

I do not have the answer. These are questions which we often do not ask ourselves (us = aid workers) enough. And we should. I see it as one of my tasks, being part of this 'humanitarian world', to ask these questions aloud, from within the "aid world". Even if they see me as a pain in the ass. I know deep down inside, these are the right questions to ask.

Have a look also at
the comments the Spiegel article generated.

Picture courtesy
. For updated humanitarian news, check out The Other World News


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