Sunday, February 22, 2009

Microfinance, not aid

The 'Anti-Bono' is how the NY Times describes Dambisa Moyo. She wants foreign aid to Africa to stop because it breeds corruption and dependency and it makes the governments "beholden to foreign donors and not accountable to its people."

You do come across these arguments every so often, although even hinting at them in Ireland is akin to shouting "I'm a witch" in 17th century Salem. Ostracism is the best you can hope for.

Moyo compares Africa to China and asks why no one is feeling sorry for China.
Forty years ago, China was poorer than many African countries. Yes, they have money today, but where did that money come from? They built that, they worked very hard to create a situation where they are not dependent on aid.
Is she right that aid has such a malign influence in Africa? I don't really know. I'm not sure corruption is unknown in China either.

I suppose the best answer I can think of is that it's possible aid is part of the problem. Certainly the current model is not working, but that doesn't mean it would be easy to ignore the media campaigns driven by those who are part of the aid 'industry'. You'd have to be pretty sure that aid people are wrong when you know from the news that there's some form of calamity about to unfold.