To the People

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bono Hates Starving African Babies

That's the thesis behind a new book called Dead Aid by African economist Dambisa Moyo. In it, she argues that all of the aid being funneled to the country thanks to international pop stars is actually doing more harm than good:
Consider the figures. In the past 50 years, the West has pumped around £35 trillion into Africa. But far from improving the lives of ordinary Africans, the result of stateadministered charity on such a colossal scale has, argues Moyo, been 'an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster'.

The effects are easy to see, yet always ignored. Over the past 30 years, the economies of the most aiddependent countries have shrunk by 0.2 per cent per annum.
Can you give us an example of how, Ms Moyo? Funny we should ask:
Imagine there's an African mosquito-net maker who manufactures 500 nets a week. He employs ten people, and this being Africa, each of those employees supports as many as 15 relatives on his modest but steady salary. Some 150 people therefore depend on this thriving little cottage industry, producing a much-needed, low-cost commodity for local people.

Then, Moyo writes: 'Enter vociferous Hollywood movie star who rallies the masses and goads Western governments to collect and send 100,000 mosquito nets to the afflicted region, at a cost of a million dollars. The nets arrive and a "good" deed is done.'

The result? The local business promptly goes bust. Why buy one when they're handing them out for free? Ten more people are unemployed, and 150 people are without means of support.

Like all such aid hand-outs, it's an idiotically short-sighted way to treat a complex problem.

And that's not all. In a year or so, those nets will have sustained wear and tear, and will need either mending or replacing. But the local net-maker is no longer around.

So now those previously independent and self-sufficient Africans have to go begging the West for more aid. Intervention has actually destroyed a small part of Africa's economy, as well as its spirit of enterprise. Thus aid reduces its recipients to beggary in two easy moves.

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