The Nature of Western Aid to Africa

814 words | 3 page(s)

The giving of aid to the developing world and the effect that this aid has on those who receive is one of the most important and hotly contested topics in contemporary international relations. Some argue that the receipt of such aid is vital in order to develop the economies of the poorest of the world’s countries and to enable those who live in desperate poverty to stand a chance of emerging from it. Others take a fundamentally libertarian stance and argue that developed nations have no responsibility to care for underdeveloped countries and that the spirit of giving aid goes fundamentally against the capitalist ethos which informs modern democracies.

This paper will adopt neither of these positions, although it will argue that the giving of aid can be seen as a fundamentally negative aspect of modern social relations. It will do this by showing that, rather than assisting those whom it claims to help, the form of aid as long term interest based loans only serves to perpetuate conditions of exploitation and domination which precipitate the need for such aid in the first place. The continuing repetition of these relations, regardless of the context or the length of time given to them, cannot do anything other than continue the state of affairs which they claim to desire an end to. The rest of this paper will demonstrate that this is the case by considering some of the specifics of the modern system of aid allowance and donation.

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"The Nature of Western Aid to Africa".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

One generally accepted understanding of aid is that it functions as a sum of money loaned by a developed nation to a developing nation with the intention of stimulating growth and enabling said nation to work its way out of poverty and into economic growth. Jeffrey Sachs makes this clear when he attempts to draw attention to previous aid programmes which have been successful in their attempts, such as the development of India’s ‘green revolution’ (Sachs, 2006). This view of aid however necessarily leads to a contradiction, as it is clear that attempting to do such actions is never as simple as it may appear.

One standard argument about aid is to state that it should be simply a case of caring about the suffering of the world’s poor enough to be able to provide them with what they need. One writer notes, however, that the giving of aid is simply not this simple. They state that, when it comes to mosquito nets which cost a tiny amount and could easily be supplied by the World Health Organisation that; ‘nets are often diverted to the black market or wind up being used as fishing nets or wedding veils…they simply don’t get to the people who need them’ (Postrel, 2006). There is a general consensus that the money given through aid can be seen to be problematic and that it often does not reach the people for whom it is intended.

However, to claim that this complexity is exceptional fundamentally misunderstands the nature of aid. It has never been stated that aid is intended to simply act as a charitable donation. Several commentators have noted that the world no longer believes in the rhetoric of a benevolent system of aid; a belief which, in the face of the actual actions of developed nations is now untenable. One writer notes that UN attempts to rescind poverty have failed to such an extent that by 2015 ‘380 million poverty stricken people will remain in the condition from which the UN promised to liberate them’ (The Economist, 2006). It may seem contradictory that the UN should fail so much at giving the amount of aid which it has promised, just as it may seem contradictory that particular cheap items are not delivered where they are urgently needed.

However, it is important to realise that when considered with a broader remit of capitalist relations these contradictions cease to exist. Aid is only ever given as an advance on future growth, from which the nation which gives will profit. As such it can be seen to fundamentally repeat the relationship of exploitation it claims to want to end.

In conclusion, this paper has argued that the provision of aid should be seen as indicative of a situation which necessarily reproduces poverty and inequality through the maintenance of fundamentally unequal relations, both on a domestic and on an international scale. Any appeal for more aid which not take this into account is likely to only exacerbate the situation further rather than solve it.

  • “Aspirations and Obligations.” The Economist. Web. 2005. Retrieved from: http://www.economist.com/node/4385253?story_id=4385253
  • Postrel, Virginia. “The Poverty Puzzle.” The New York Times. Web. 2006. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/books/review/19postrel.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&.
  • Sachs, Jeffrey D. “How Aid Can Work.” The New York Review. Web. 2006. Retrieved from: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2006/dec/21/how-aid-can-work/.

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now