Scramble in Africa

It's very strange that I've been writing this blog for so many months and rarely comment about the field I actually work in - international development. Initially, my blog was a mental escape while I was living in Sudan. Writing about pretty clothes and other things in other countries was a nice mental break from the reality I was living. This isn't to say that the experience was bad, as most my posts from that time was about what I was going through. Anyway, since moving to Washington, I've started swimming in my field! Just last week alone, I attended two seminars looking at various issues - one on property rights in Uganda and the other one reconstruction in Iraq. While I could right a bible about those two issues, I will instead mention an article I recently read in the Economist called 'A Scramble in Africa.' The article basically discusses how in many countries there are so many NGOs or other organizations working to 'help' that those nations resources are being stretched. "Health workers in several African countries say they are so busy meeting western delegates that they can only do their proper jobs—vaccinations, maternal care—in the evening." Isn't that crazy?!?! The large number of organizations working in each country are for the large part work as little islands doing their own thing even if that thing is a duplicate of something another org is doing or isn't in line with the priorities of the country (that is if the government of that country has even sat down to even think about their priorities)!
The article even talks a bit about 'tied-aid' "One of the oldest problems bedevilling the business is the practice of “tied aid” (ie, requiring some of it be spent in the donor country). This increases inefficiency (tying is reckoned to raise the cost of aid to the recipient by 15-30%) and adds to the problem of fragmentation. So it is good news that Britain, Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands are untying their aid." While the Brits may be untying their aid, the U.S. of A. is keeping our aid nice and LOCKED up! Basically, a large portion of what the U.S. spends in a country, actually comes right back to the American people. For example, even flying out to a country, you have to use American airlines, if you are purchasing a car, it has to be an American model/manufacturer, and of course food aid is the biggest monster with most of the 'aid' assisting American farmers! And when I say American farmers, I'm not talking about Joe Sixpack small time organic farmer. I'm talking about one of the BIG 3 companies that control the farmering industry!

Anyway....enjoy the article and I'll talk more about my field later!


The Bohemian Bahamian said...

I can't wait to read more from you about your field. I hope all is well, take care!

Chinye said...

I've been following your blog for months now, and I can't believe this is the first time I have some across this article. You've taken the words out of my mouth. Have you written more about your field? I would love to more about it!