by Paul I. Adujie; L[email protected]
New York, United States
No wise military commander would attempt in good sense, to feed a battalion or a brigade with the same amount of food which is only sufficient to feed a platoon.
This is just as no intelligent farmer would in all good judgment, attempt to feed 200,000 chickens or 200,000 cows, with the same amount of grains which would satiate just 100 chickens or 100 cows. Otherwise, such a military commander will have a very hungry brigade, battalion and such a farmer, would have malnourished livestock of whether chickens or cows!
In foreign aid logic, more is given to platoons commanders and less is given to commanders of battalions and brigades. More is similarly given to farmers with fewer livestock, while much less is given to the farmers with many more thousands of livestock. And those given less are frequently required to do much more, and those given nothing at all, are blamed for poor outcomes, nonetheless.
Such is the nature of foreign aid.
Aid is never directed at places in the world where the need is greatest. Foreign aid has a pattern of being directed at those who are connected. And those with clout and those with the requisite vehemence and cohesion to pepper donors with complaints when they are not offered aid. NPR Gwen Thompson reporting from two countries in Africa, managed to have repeated for each, the irrelevant fact that these countries are aid beneficiaries of USA and I have never heard any journalist/reporter say the same of Israel, as the American journalist who reports from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
There are those who are completely ignorant of how foreign aid is allocated, size and what nations are recipients. Out of such ignorance, some have assumed that so much or even too much foreign aid, has been given to African nations. These ignoramuses therefore argue that foreign aid to Africans is ineffective. Or that it creates dependency. But by the time that you look at the tables and schedules of US Foreign Aid below, you will agree, and see the lie about Foreign Aid. Ignorant people should stop using Africa as cover for the foreign aid which actually flows elsewhere, far from Africa!
There is a reason why Israel never was in a position to have to rely on Bono of U2 or the musicians and artistes who performed We Are the World, Live Aid in support for victims of drought and famine in Ethiopian and Somalia to advocate public charity as form of aid. It is the same reason why Israel for instance never has to deal with the conditionality World Bank and International Monetary Fund stringent strictures, which are frequently imposed on African nations and nations such as Argentina etc. The World Bank and IMF, is seen in developing countries, as tools by which western nations control public policies and the lives of peoples in the developing world. And anyone who has heard of the so-called “Structural Adjustment Program” understands the ruination it wrought in many developing countries worldwide. Israel receives more aid and more loan guarantees than all of Africa. So Israel does not need the scandalous fund raising theatrics. Israel was never subjected to controls and strictures of The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund or IMF. And why not?
In the metaphorical scheme of things, regarding foreign aid, it is as if African nations are the ones who must travel longest distances in the desert, and they are the ones with a junk car with a broken radiator and burnt gasket, and before donor give Africans 8 ounces of radiator coolants, donors first announce such plans 2 years in advance. And worse, donors actually loudly announce plans to donate gallons of radiator coolants, but eventually only deliver mere 8 ounces of coolants.
These same donors are keenly aware of the fact that Israel does not have a lot of passengers to transport, and a great distance to travel, and yet, they will quietly and surreptitiously supply brand new Cadillac Escalade to Israel without ostentatious announcements or even a whimper of donations of brand new Cadillac and Lexus filled with high octane fuels to Israel, in the competition to drive through the desert, the outcome between both teams is slanted and predetermined.
Donors who are only willing to donate junk cars to African nations are also quick to want to complain about our African drivers of such junk cars. Donors are blaming African drivers for the fate of the junk cars, fates which should be clear to any observer that the best driver could not magically turn the junk pinto into a Cadillac or Lexus or some sort engineering marvel. Even if with best efforts and intentions are invested into junk cars, a clunker is a clunker still.
Again, this is the crux of the matter too regarding foreign aid; foreign aid is something that does not flow to any part of Africa. But, it so irritating to hear Western commentators wring their metaphorical hands as they moan and bemoan “aid-fatigue or donor-fatigue”! How do you suffer fatigue from what you have not done? How is possible to suffer “donor fatigue” connection with Africa, when 99% of your donations go to nations outside Africa?
Those in the world who have probably heard of such terms, such as donor-fatigue and or, aid-fatigue are liable to think Africa in the same sentence as they would upon hearing of war, chaos and a starving child. But those terms, are marketing tools of disinformation. Those vexatious terms erroneously lead readers and listeners, of those who spout them, into thinking that so much or enough has been given or done for Africa already. Africa is therefore as, thereafter thought of, and presented in portrayals of irredeemable basket case. It is critical to examine the role played by this erroneous portrayal of Africa, which in turn affects policy formulations and haphazard implementations, in particular reference to foreign aid. This is an effort to show how, even the best optimist, the most enthusiastic worker becomes discouraged by those who peddle disinformation and then pretend no amount of efforts will change Africa. The truth is, not enough has been done, let alone too much. Where then does the donor-fatigue and aid-fatigue arise from?
It is noteworthy that foreign aid is determined by criterion, which have nothing to do with where the needs are greatest or where the largest population of neediest cases reside. What determines the destination and quantum of aid are rather mere ephemerals of friendship, lobby, clout and the quality or lack, in the leadership of a given aid donor country. These flimsy factors which have nothing whatsoever to do with need, are often fleeting, but, sometimes, also as a result of inertia. Successive administrations send foreign aid, to where aid was always sent.
There is this astonishing discovery that successive American administration, regardless of whether it is led by social conservatives or liberal-progressives, tend to direct aid, to where aid was always directed. The truth about foreign aid is almost silly and amusing, it will make anyone with good sense have a rethink of what we all thought we knew about foreign aid. Too many people seem to have this sort of auto-response when asked about Africa as the destination of foreign aid. A woefully mistaken belief and hence the auto-response!
When it comes to foreign aid to Africa, here is what happens. Western nations take the best friends forever or preferred non-African friends, to Five Star Restaurants in foreign aid metaphorical terms. Western nations treat these non-Africans to sumptuous 14 course meals of caviar, champagne, wines, desserts and more. At the end, their “conscience” suggests photo opportunity of a feel good type with the Africans, and so, leftovers and doggie-bags are brought to the Africans in full glare of television cameras from CNN and BBC etc in tow. And in the full glare of television cameras, Africans are portrayed in dire straits and genuflecting and picking up the leftovers with gratitude and appreciation with so much flourish.
Remember that the television cameras were conveniently out during the events of sumptuous dinners with foreign aid donors’ best friends. Africa is then splashed all over the news, as African was actually the recipient of the 14 course meals sumptuous dinner! Africans are the ones everyone hears and sees being feted. Someone could argue, that westerners are entitled to spend their own money, however and with whomever they prefer. True! But why lie about who the major recipients or beneficiaries are? They are not Africans! Let there be truth in charity, as we demand truth in advertising. Foreign Aid is not squandered on Africa as many have been made to believe!
Africa receives less than one percent of foreign aid. But discussions about foreign aid, frequently pretend that Africa is the epicenter of foreign aid and that Africa is the major beneficiary of foreign aid and this is not so at all. Again, I implore you to be the judge… see the accompanying tables and indexes.
After slavery, after colonialism and after World Wars and After various economic meltdowns, what Marshall Plan or forms of financial bailouts, rescues etc were offered to Africans compared to the Marshall Plan, bailouts and rescue packages which were offered to the rest of the world over and over again?
Powerlessness is evil! Africa has been made powerless since slavery and colonialism, hence the world says and does what it pleases regarding Africa, things which are clearly unacceptable elsewhere.
“War and Peace” or “War: What Is It Good For”; was not written about Nigeria or Africa. The Medieval War was not fought in Africa or by Africans. The Hundred Years War was not about or of Africa. And yet, it has become fashionable for revisionists to pretend that chaos scenario or chaos theory came about, because of Africans.
The Balkans has brimmed with crises for a hundred years. The “troubles” in Northern Ireland is known to Dubliners and everyone else on earth. The World Wars, I and II, were not caused by Africans. Oliver Cromwell was not an African. Adolf Hitler and Nazis were not Africans. Napoleon Bonaparte was not an African. The Balkans is not in Africa. And despite all these, revisionists have convinced a good segment of the world populations that war and chaos is of African origin and still resides there? That would make Chechens Africans? Ditto Afghans and Pakistanis? That would have made Tamil Tigers Africans? The truth of the matter is, I do not like wars. This is regardless of whether or not such war is on the African soil or somewhere else in the world. But the fallacy which is repeated about Africa as the center of war and chaos is simply nonsense!
A major factor and huge contributor of the challenges which Africa has faced is the image of devastation inflicted upon Africa by Western media and press. It is either out of inertia, intellectual laziness, dishonesty or outright racism that Western journalists do this in matters concerning Africa; whatever the case is, it is plainly unacceptable and rather voyeuristic. Western journalist will amaze you with how they are quick to become some pseudo experts on Africa. They will also kill your joy with a strain of ineptitude which allows them to always address African matters in the singular as they were siblings of Sarah Palin of Africa is country fame. Often, you will hear, “This is John Doe, reporting from Africa!” If the same journalist will not say, “This is John Doe, reporting from North America” or “This is John Doe, reporting from Europe” why is the treatments for countries, and cities in African nations grouped together? Why is the treatment reserved for Africans always warped, twisted and inconsistent with treatment of everywhere else?
Western journalists report from Afghanistan, Myanmar-Burma, Tibet, Japan or Vietnam or Pakistan, with accompanying sounds of local music, atmospherics and flavors, and never reporting from South East Asia or Central Asia for instance. But, you must have heard, this year, that “This is John Doe reporting with the Pope in Africa. This is John Doe, reporting with Hilary Clinton in Africa. Western media are more focused on Britney Spears, Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, and most recently, on the life and death of Michael Jackson, than on coverage of substantive issues concerning the African continent during the past ten years. Western media revel in squandering their attention and would be valuable coverage time on salacious and scandalous prurient behaviors of certain celebrities!
In the news, politics, chaos, war, foreign aid, AIDS are portrayed as phenomena peculiarly African. I have observed over time that only African writers, singers, and sundry which are critical of Africa would get publicity or a mention in the Western media. If all you write or crow about is war, crises, chaos, bad leadership, diseases, Ebola, AIDS, genital circumcision sensationally labeled clitoral mutilation by Westerners, you will get a mention in the Western press and may even be showered with publicity! But whatever you do, never lay any of the blames at the doorstep of Western interlopers and intermeddlers in African affairs! Westerners always seem to be in the business of selecting and imposing their preference of leadership on developing nations. And these are frequently persons who are unpopular with the local populace in their own nations, fine with Western nations because they are pliable and can be manipulated on strings like puppets by Western nations. Think Pervez Musharaf of Pakistan.
Think Hamid Kharzai in Afghanistan. Think Mahmoud Abbas in Palestine. Think Chalabi in Iraq for a time. I reckon that in a hundred years, there will be Westerners blaming poor people in these countries for being such basket cases. These countries are being engineered now for future failures, and when the results become apparent, the entire world would have forgotten how Western nations are engineering these failures, being engineered right now by the West. Engineered, it seems to me to, be mere expansion of consumer base or markets for products from western nations, or suppliers of energy or other materials which propel the engines of western nations’ economies.
Such is the history of Africa too. Africa is a case of “Planned Obsolescence” planned by Westerners. Think Slavery. Think Colonialism. Think Berlin Conference 1884-1885 and the meddling-interferences in African affairs ever since! And yet, the face of paucity of foreign aid from Western nations, Africa is presented in humiliating terms, as the recipient of the bulk of foreign aid. Westerners proclaim loudly, that they have poured aid into Africa, but it has not changed Africa’s lot.
The Truth about Foreign Aid, is that, Africa is not where foreign really goes. The bulk of foreign aid, in reality, flows elsewhere and not Africa! How come then, that westerners and their journalists are always screaming about donor or aid fatigue? There was no Marshall Plan for Africa similar to the ones for Europe and Asia after the World War II. There was no Bailout for Africa similar to the ones for Asia and Mexico in the 1990s. There have been no meaningful foreign aid efforts for African nations. See foreign Aid Tables and Links.
U.S. Foreign Assistance to Africa: Claims vs. Reality – Brookings Institution
U.S. Foreign Assistance to Africa: Claims vs. Reality
US Foreign Aid By Country
US Foreign Aid to Israel