Thursday, December 20, 2007

Aid - the road to no-where

"Foreign assistance is far from charity," J. Brian Atwood, the USAID director under former President Clinton, told Congress in 1995. "It is an investment in American jobs, American business."

Just in case it was not already quite apparent we read here .

Under the Buy American Act, the U.S. Agency for International Development must spend aid money to buy products and services from U.S. suppliers whenever possible, and then deliver them aboard expensive U.S.-flagged ships or planes.

The World Bank estimates that throughout the 1980s, more than half of all aid was tied to what donor countries wanted to export, often at higher prices than could be found on the market. This practice reduced the value of aid by anywhere from 11 to 30 percent.

Often donors did not understand Africa or talk to Africans. The Norwegian government built a fish processing plant on Lake Turkana in the 1970s to provide jobs for nomadic cattle herders — soon doomed in part because the local community had no fishing culture.
In a self-assessment in 1987, the World Bank found 106 out of 189 African development projects audited — almost 60 percent — had serious shortcomings or were complete failures. African agriculture projects failed 75 percent of the time. A recent report on aid from the World Bank's private arm, the International Finance Corporation, found only half of its Africa projects succeed.

In the 50 years since the first African countries won independence, the world has spent $568 billion on Africa. Yet Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago

"Africans do not want to be viewed as a charity case," adds Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank managing director. "Ninety-nine point nine percent of Africans are people who are getting on with their own lives. All they are asking for is....a set of tools."

We in Socialist Banner will add that what also is required is a new social system , something that the World Bank cannot deliver , only the workers themselves .

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