DISCUSSION ON INTERNATIONAL AID
Problems and Solutions
moderated by Phil Bartle, PhD
Contributions will be added to the top of this collection as I receive them
Date: 2 Jul
----- Original Message -----
Sent: July 02
Editor's Note: Bono and his fellow rockers are appealing to G8 countries (preparing to meet next week in Scotland) to cancel African debt, increase aid and open markets with the goal of reducing poverty. But the agenda supported by the stars would likely perpetuate Africa's poverty as global market dependence keeps farm incomes low and production geared to monocultural crops for export, rather than domestic consumption. Erecting trade barriers may offer greater prospects for beginning to address African poverty.
Bono hears boos
By WAYNE ROBERTS
Dublin, Ireland – Bono and I were both very busy this week in Dublin. U2 and he were back in their old hood in the north end for a set of three concerts, while I was at a three-day conference of 150 policy wonks trying to work up ways to feed the world when cheap oil runs out sometime soon.
The rocker and aid impresario Bob Geldof hope to "make poverty history" when they confront the G-8 next week in Edinburgh. But even if the leaders of the globe's wealthiest countries accept the songsters' proposals, Bono may find new meaning in "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
That's because among the senior energy, food and enviro analysts at the meeting I'm attending here at University College, the consensus is that Bono and Geldof could become complicit in making poverty endure.
The duo promote three policies that could, Geldof says, fix Africa's problems "in 10 seconds." Cancel the interest-bloated debts to international bankers that cripple the finances of African governments. Raise foreign aid levels to .7 per cent of rich countries' GNP. End the subsidies and protections, especially in Europe, that discriminate against the African exports that could finance development through trade, not aid.
But, says England's Helena Norberg-Hodge, winner of the Right Livelihood Award, commonly recognized as the alternative movement's Nobel Prize, "At the very best, these proposals will likely increase African poverty."
Though it's not their intention, Bono and Geldof "actually serve the interests that are key to the globalization project that will keep Africa in its debt trap," she says.
It seems to make sense that more exports of products that take advantage of Africa's climate – coffee, cotton, sugar and cut flowers, for example – could provide badly needed help for a cash-starved economy. But think again, says Darrin Qualman, research director of Canada's National Farmers Union, a workshop leader at the Dublin conference.
"We're the poster children for export agriculture. Canada has succeeded brilliantly," he says. Farm exports jumped from just $10.9 billion in 1988, the year before the first free trade deal kicked in, to a whopping $28.2 billion just 14 years later. But "the result has been the worst farm income crisis in Canadian history since the 1930s Depression."
Food prices stayed flat despite overall inflation, resulting in a 24 percent drop in real income for farmers. In the same period, farm debt ballooned from $22.5 to $44.2 billion. And here's the kicker:all the new money from increased exports went to farm supply companies and bankers who covered farm purchases of tractors, fuel, fertilizers, pesticides and seeds – exactly the opposite of what developing countries need to get out of debt.
Farmers always get the wrong end of the stick in a free trade, high export economy, says Qualman. That's because everything that farmers sell is in competition with goods grown by up to 2 billion of the world's farmers, but everything farmers need comes from sectors dominated by three or four near-monopolies.
"The farm income crunch is caused by this imbalance of market power in the global food chain," says Qualman, and will have the same impact on Africa's chocolate, cotton and coffee producers as it did on Canada's grain, oil seed and meat producers.
Not that anyone in media or government will admit it, he says. "They can't say that power relations determine farm incomes, so they make up lies about inefficiencies, oversupply and subsidies. They can't bring themselves to say the system itself is broken."
If supporters of Africa understood this trajectory, says Qualman, "their issue would be the right to build barriers, not tear them down."
Annie Sugrue spoke to the meeting about her experience as head of a multimillion-dollar South African community economic development group, EcoCity. She scoffs at any suggestion that trade will help impoverished people in sub-Saharan Africa, where 46 per cent of the population survives on less than $1 a day.
"They're totally marginalized, outside the economy. It's complete rubbish to say they're going to be involved in trade," she says.
South Africa's clothing workers all lost their jobs to imports from China, says Sugrue. "If anyone wants to help Africa, they should cancel trade, not just the debt." European trade barriers to African food exports actually help the poor in Africa, she says, because they force local producers to grow for the local market. When that doesn't happen , as in Kenya, the best land goes to produce bargain-basement flowers for Europe instead of food for the home market.
An economy designed to overcome mass poverty and hunger must prioritize agriculture for domestic consumers, agrees Norberg-Hodge, who is director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture and an editor of the acclaimed mag The Ecologist. "Any solutions that create dependence on the global marketplace are not sustainable," she tells NOW.
Export agriculture inevitably leads to mechanized mass production of one crop, the only way to ensure the uniformity and low prices demanded in First World markets.
That's a surefire way of excluding small producers, who grow a diversity of traditional foods with low-cost hand tools.
The package deal of debt cancellation, increased aid and free trade for Africa is also promoted by British prime minister Tony Blair, U.S. president George Bush and the Anglo-American mass media.
It's time to face the music that this is not the company anyone should keep or the strategy anyone should support who wants to make African poverty a shame of the past.
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Sent: July 02
Aid to help poor people fight poverty is never simple or easy, whether it is international aid or within our own countries. The problem is here in Canada as much as with you in Pakistan. This latest extravaganza of rock entertainment by Bob Geldorf and Co., for example, is so simplistic it is criminal. Giving money or food to poor people does not make them self reliant. Debt forgiveness will free up money for some countries, like Sudan, so they can buy more arms to massacre and oppress their southern citizens. Aid to sophisticated poor countries will go into the pockets of politicians and civil servants for their private use, and not get to the poor people. Projects designed to avoid or bypass that process are hindered by not getting their certification or needed cooperation to do the project.
I think we should avoid the calling residents along a lane in a slum lazy or uncooperative when they do not provide local communal labour to build latrines. Who decided the latrines were needed? If Unicef or UNDP had a target for so many latrines being built in Gujranwala or Silkot, then it is not surprising that those people do not see why they should donate communal labour. If they are poor, they are probably working more hours a week that those who already have good sanitation. They are too busy staying alive.
When children from poor families are being exploited in anything, making carpets, making bricks, making footballs, making sportswear for rich countries, often their low wages are the only income that their families might have. It should be no surprise that those families object to their children taken out of work and put into school. Perhaps some of their schooling can be taken to the families (I saw this working effectively by Rädda Barnen in Bangladesh) as a second best alternative.
When I worked for the UN, my boss had to fight the UN bureaucrats to design a project that was based upon the recipients deciding their own priorities. The planners wanted to know if it was a water project or clinic project, and he said he could not tell them until the community members decided. It caused headaches for the planners, but it was possible. Most UN programme officers do not want the bother.
If the people of Gujranwala need latrines, do they themselves know this? If you want them to help build them for free, then a lot of effort and resources must be used to convince them. Planners in big office buildings do not see this as a necessity.
If you work with a community and try to implement the priorities of the funding agency, then you are not really a mobiliser, but a contractor trying to implement the priorities of the donor agency. No matter how professional, how skilled, how committed to genuine mobilization, you are not mobilising; it is not your fault; you need also to survive. The necessary education should be directed towards the donor agency.
But I see you as a good mobiliser. You are using my training material, translating it into Urdu, upgrading the skills of your staff, seriously questioning the realities of assistance. Unfortunately, you are not alone in this dilemma; there are many others facing the same.
There are other donor agencies, a few in the UN, many more NGOs, who understand the problem, and are willing to fund according to (1) the priorities of the recipient communities, and (2) willingness to put in a large budget component for awareness raising, PRA, dialogue with communities and local authorities and other community management training elements.
Strictly speaking, if a community does not want what you have to offer, you should walk away and find another community. In reality this is not always possible.
Most people in poor communities, and their government officials, see the need for water, but do not see it so much as a health issue, and they do not see that it should be linked with hygiene education and sanitation facilities. Water is easier to talk about than shit because of community values and tastes.
I do not have a simple solution for you. Simple solutions in my experience cause further problems. But we need to advocate for more developmental approaches, and demonstrate the failings of charity approaches. We face oppositions at many levels, based on vested interests. The job is bigger than we first conceive
Date: 2 Jul
In these day I think time is playing very important role in community development, I mean when the settlement are develop it create some needs and these belong to the needs of resident community and this is the proper time for mobilization in these communities. You are mobilizing these communities according your agenda.
If the human settlement is not needed your agenda community is not ready to work with you then your work is like government agencies work. In this time your work is not owned by community, they are not care any construction or other.
Is it true?
When I am working with UNDP, project namely PLUS in Gujranwala. We are completing 58 lanes (low cost sanitation program) community paid for this easily. When I am working in a village, I am not able to motivate those villagers. I think Gujranwala is a big city and peoples are living in the slums are needed (sewerage) they except it provide us hand in work.
When I am working in UNICEF project at Sialkot on elimination of “Child labor from Soccer ball industry”. We are enrolling children in the school. Community not ready to enrolling their children in the school. When sanction is effective against Industrialist than community enrolling children in the schools.
What is this?
In these days we are creating awareness on HIV/AIDS but I felt our work is not effective against our effort. We are not mobilizing community as whole in our working area.
Even we are not mobilizing MSM (they are living under vulnerable conditions).
They are not interested in it (instead of this we have complete things for donor but ground realities are different).
Am I failing as mobilizer?
The micro enterprise schemes that work have several features. They have very low loans, charge market rates of interest, and are aimed mainly at women. Although it may sound like sexism or gender bigotry, women are more likely to use the loans as planned, develop a small business for their family and personal benefit, and do not waste the money on entertainment, women (prostitutes) and booze. Along with the loan comes a LOT of training, how to handle credit, record keeping, planning, marketing, accounting, and technical advice on production. Those schemes which are similar to the famous Grameen Bank setup in Bangladesh, are most likely to succeed.
We must be realistic and aware of conditions. Civil servants are under paid, and are expected to find sources of income based on diverting or embezzling public funds to their own pockets. The do not usually face any negative sanctions for doing so but are usually praised fro helping their home communities and families with their ill gotten gains. A government run credit project is among the most vulnerable for corrupt civil servants and politicians to exploit.
I am not at all surprised that you list so much money by your clients not repaying their loans.
Many civil servants act as if a micro credit system is easy, and that they can implement it. Without all the required training it will fail. It also needs much monitoring, as well as modest loans and female clients. I was accused of being a racist for resisting such approaches, large loans, male clients, half baked enterprise plans, being told I was a foreigner and should not impose my culture on theirs. A Kenyan cabinet minister said in a conference that Africa had no corruption, and the idea was invented by Europeans to put down the black man. Two weeks later he was arrested on charges of corruption.
If a man comes and says he has a fantastic plan for a business, but does not need training or a support group in lieu of collateral, tell him to get his loan from a bank.
As you translate the income generation handbook into Urdu, keep these notes of mine in your mind. I will keep you informed about the urban gardening, and suggest your NGO would be more successful with that than attempting another income generation project.
When I first started working in Peshawar, 1988, it was this time of year, and the temperature reached 49 degrees. Walking outside was like swimming in molasses.
At 09:38 AM Touqeer Abbas wrote:
Dr i re-translate mobilization for civil society lol.
todays i have a question. Government of Pakistan start income genrating program under the title of PRSP, and they are providing supporting loans for running business,i know in 5 villages of sialkot they loss 12 million rupees and they are still running his program WHERE THEY ADJUST THEIR LOSSES?
the output of this program is nill WHY COMMUNITY IS NOT DEVELOPED
OPP 's ( a very big NGO working in pakistan) cradit program is near about 200 million in pakistan and major partner are fail to replicate this program in their areas.in some cities this program is run as local money lander style.they earn a lot through this program.they replicate this program like
local body select person and they provide money @ 0.50 Rupees per day per thousend and local organization provide this loan @ Rs. 0.60 /day/000 and installment is due after 30 days. and loan is on daily product bases.
ARE YOU THINK LOANEE TAKES FRUIT FROM THIS PROGRAM?
Date: 10 Jun
The writer thinks that too much foreign aid is wasted and in the end it will not do what was intended.
The U.N. recently announced that the world population will grow by 40 percent in the next half century.
The U.N. believes that wealthy nations must dramatically increase foreign aid to underdeveloped countries in order to stave off a humanitarian disaster that could result from this third-world population explosion.
Foreign aid brings mostly corruption, while exacerbating the underlying problems. The United States and other wealthy nations should shun the billion-dollar publicity-stunts and instead commit to developing democratic institutions that foster free markets.
From : Jessica
Hi Dr. Phil,
That's it for now
From : Duncan W
Dr Phil was talking about how the Canadian government heavily subsidizes Canadian farmers, undercutting the foreign farmers we are supposedly helping with foreign aid. At that, the aid is invariably tied to conditions that work in Canada's favor, so it's not like we're acting in the purist spirit of altruism.
In fact, it's outright dirty politics. The whole process is just a way to give the appearance of altruism without doing anything helpful at all. The idea should raise some alarm bells. The labels of 'developed' or 'developing' countries can be misleading. If we, the western world, are actively (even if unintentionally) sabotaging the economies of 'developing' countries for our own economic gain, then there isn't any truth at all to the idea that someday, with our help, all countries of the world will stand firmly on their own two feet.
Call me a cynic, but I think that this sort of pretend foreign aid is going on, and that there are two reasons for it. The first is some convoluted politics and the second has to do with some basic assumptions about how the world works that I want to question here.
The first reason (the political stuff) is basically economic, and in talking about economics I am WAY out of any field I know anything about, so if any of you can correct me on this, than please do. But here is what I think. The idea of government subsidies to businesses to create work is something that has never made sense to me. Or for that matter, spending large amounts of public money in general in a particular area to 'boost the economy' or some other reason that sounds superficially sensible to someone like myself who doesn't have a good understanding of economics looks a little less sensible up close.
I come from Nova Scotia, where the government used to pour vast amounts of money into steel mills in Cape Breton for no other reason than to employ the locals. It made no sense in the overall scheme of thing, but then the debate surrounding it was NEVER about the bigger picture- it always focussed exclusively on Cape Breton, with any remark about wasted money being slammed as an attack on Cape Breton as a whole. But this is what subsidies are like- they're pretty easy to put in, but woe be unto the politician who tries to take them away.
Maybe the most extreme example of this sort of thing is the US military. The amount of redundancy is extraordinary- why exactly do they maintain the US Marine Corps (which has more troops than the entire British Army, and more aircraft than the RAF) to do exactly the same job as the US Army? My guess this is leftover from WW2, where the Army went to Europe and the USMC fought in the Pacific. It was a system to fight a war on two fronts, and allowed each to specialize their training a bit. But this is no longer necessary, and the Army and MC are stepping on each other's operational toes all the time. The Marines were in Afghanistan, which is a landlocked country.
Why is this happening?
Because no American politician will dare to even mention the idea of trimming down the forces. It's a political No Fly Zone. Because the military is Big Money and the American system doesn't allow for direct equalization payments between the states, it's impossible to get rid of any military entity once it's created. The Canadian military isn't quite the same because we do allow for direct equalization payments. But it happens in other ways. The famous Iltis jeeps were purchased at obscene prices from Bombardier just to keep the money spent here at home- the military was screaming for the better (and cheaper- go figure) vehicles that were being offered by one of those big German companies (I can't recall right now). And I've heard second hand that we're doing it again with the Stryker vehicles.
It's not a uniquely military problem, it just happens a lot in the military field because there's a lot of money there. But a lot of the same thinking was behind the space program, for example. I wouldn't be surprised at all if something similar was going on in the agricultural sector, though I can't prove it. I would imagine there would be hell to pay for any politician who floated the idea of cutting these subsidies back, whatever his reasoning.
The second reason I think pretend foreign aid happens is, as I said, some basic assumptions people have about the way the world works. The idea is that all people have the same right to be pursue wealth, and will all be perfectly willing to deprive the other to better their own lot. So far I'm in total agreement, but I stop agreeing with this line of thinking when it makes the assumption that it's automatically a zero sum game.
The laws of supply and demand mean that the more people around the world are producing, the lower the cost gets. Propping up third world farmers so they can produce on even terms with western farmers would drop the overall cost of food, and get a lot more people fed. The relatively low cost of our western food is an illusion: we're paying for it through our taxes anyway. So I think overall, Canadians would come out better off. Plus we could all sleep a little better knowing we're playing fair and not sending phony aid.
I think the only group to come out worse off from legit foreign aid would be the Canadian farmers, who would no doubt be up in arms about it. But maybe our tax money might be better spent retraining them in other areas. We're already sending money their way anyway.
Anyway, it's just my thoughts on it. I'm not taking any economics courses, so I could be just spouting nonsense here.
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