Not everyone agrees that aid creates poverty. But we thought of the aid-to-poverty cycle this week.
A World Bank report said about $130 million in aid to the Somalia transitional government between 2009 and 2010 is missing. Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed said the funds didn’t reach Somalia and might have been diverted by corrupt individuals. Meanwhile, the transitional government can’t pay workers their wages.
Paul Theroux wrote about the aid-to-poverty cycle in a New York Times essay seven years ago:
When Malawi’s minister of education was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the education budget in 2000, and the Zambian president was charged with stealing from the treasury, and Nigeria squandered its oil wealth, what happened? The simplifiers of Africa’s problems kept calling for debt relief and more aid. I got a dusty reception lecturing at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation when I pointed out the successes of responsible policies in Botswana, compared with the kleptomania of its neighbors. Donors enable embezzlement by turning a blind eye to bad governance, rigged elections and the deeper reasons these countries are failing.
Many African reformers oppose the current system of international aid. They say it props up corrupt regimes and thereby perpetuates oppression and poverty.
Here’s an ABC News clip from John Stossel (with an appearance by Kenyan reformer John Githongo) about aid to Africa: