Sunday, May 13, 2007


SDA’s excellent post today highlighting an essay by Stephen Den Beste triggered a few thoughts about poverty and aid.

Den Beste’s words about "development projects" and "why can’t we provide clean drinking water for everyone on earth", reminded me of the never-ending aid projects and campaigns to "help" long suffering Africa.

Many aid projects, as Den Beste hints, are "fundamentally easy" - the lowest of low-tech: digging wells for water, building fences for livestock, mosquito netting to combat malaria. These are the kinds of efforts that you’d think Africans would be fully capable of doing on their own.

Isn’t one of the big problems (albeit caused largely by dysfunctional and/or corrupt governance) in Africa the general economy, jobs, etc? Yet Western aid organizations are forever focused on funding and doing the work "for" Africa. Thirty years and a trillion or so dollars later it’s more of the same or worse. What’s that definition of insanity?

The only best way out for anyone ‘in need’ begins and ends with self-help. No one else can do better.

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