Active Citizenship Can Change Your Country Essay Sample
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Active Citizenship Can Change Your Country Essay Sample
Introduction Foreign aid can be defined as “any action by a government or citizen of one country, which helps to promote economic development in another country” (Kazimbazi and Alexander, 2011, p. 28). Many countries situated in Africa do receive substantial amount of foreign aids from other countries, international organisations and private philanthropists. Foreign aid is mainly provided in the forms of financial aid, technical support and food aid.
According to Wall Street Journal (2009), over the past 60 years the amount of foreign aid provided to Africa has exceeded USD 1 trillion and foreign aid has been provided to deal with a wide range of serious problems such as extreme poverty, fighting with HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, internal conflicts and abuse of human rights, child labour and human trafficking etc. This essay critically analyses the topic of foreign aid in Africa. The essay starts with discussions of reasons and motives for foreign aid.
This is followed by analysing the benefits of foreign aids. Moreover, the essay is concluded by discussing opposite viewpoint addressing the disadvantages of foreign aid to Africa. Reasons and motives for foreign aid Generally, reasons for providing foreign aid can relate to humanitarian, political and economic motives (Lancaster, 2007). Humanitarian motive is closely associated with moral or ethical responsibilities of rich individuals and countries to help poor individuals and countries.
Humanitarian motive for providing foreign aid is also associated with the notion of altruism, which stresses the moral obligation of each individual to help other individuals (Moyo, 2009). Moreover, ulitarilism, as an extreme version of altruism dictates that the moral standards of actions are determined by the levels of their capacity to provide benefits to all parties (Lundsgaarde, 2012) Political motive, on the other hand, can be guided by strategic interests of developed countries in a way that foreign aid is provided in exchange for a support of a particular stand or initiatives.
The Marshall Plan initiative can be mentioned to illustrate the case of foreign aid guided by political motive, because this initiative has been developed in order to safeguard European countries from the influence of Communist USSR. The relevance of political motive to the provision of foreign aid to Africa in particular can be specified as minimal because this point is barely addressed by media and individual writers and researchers. The provision of foreign aid as economic self-interests can be facilitated mainly in two forms. Firstly, foreign aid can be provided in order to develop new markets to sell the products of developed countries.
The case study of Nestle Cerelac baby food can be mentioned to explain this point. Specifically, Nestle has been accused of inappropriate marketing practices in africa in a way that its Cerelac baby food products have been advertised as being more beneficial to babies compared to breastfeeding (Baby Milk Action, 1997). Secondly, provision of foreign aid can be used as a means of disposing of surpluses. Developed countries, as well as, many developing countries maintain certain amount of food surpluses to be consumed in times of natural catastrophes, environmental disasters etc.
It is a common practice to send these surpluses as foreign aid to poor countries such as Uganda upon the approach of their expiry dates. The benefits of foreign aids and level of dependency of Africa on foreign aid European Recovery Program, also known as The Marshall Plan is considered to be a major force behind the evolution of foreign aid towards its present form. The Marshall Plan involved the donation of up to 3 percent of national income in the USA to restore Europe following The Second World War.
Due to the major positive impact associated with the implementation of The Marshall Plan officials in highly developed countries became convinced that the same strategy could be used to solve extreme poverty and other issues faced by countries in African continent. The publication of ‘Assessing Aid’ by the World Bank in 1998 also marks an important event in the development of foreign aid practices. These practices mainly consist of providing food or cash or reducing the levels of debts of countries involved.
Supporters of foreign aid to Africa in general, point to the developments associated with a range of specific programs and initiatives such as UN Millennium Project, Poverty Eradication Action Plan, and others. Moreover, World Economic Forum (2005), African Development Bank, World Food Programme and International Fund for Agriculture and Development are often credited for assisting in the development of overall infrastructure in Africa, and promoting economic growth through various aid programmes and a series of debt relief initiatives.
Nevertheless, still Africa is highly dependent on foreign aid “since the mid-1990s, Africa has enjoyed an influx of foreign aid amounting to 80 percent of its development expenditures and has been the beneficiary of a number of generous donor initiatives” (Branch, 2011, p. 84) Supporters of providing foreign aid to Africa argue that “ever increasing injections of foreign aid have been essential for the long-term rehabilitation of infrastructure, for funding new projects, and for balance of payment support” (Leggett, 2001, p. 60)
The UN Millennium Project, introduced by the UN in 2000 is especially praised by various parties for its considerable progress in terms of achieving its declared goals. Specifically, the official eight goals of the UN Millennium Project consist of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering woman, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development (Sumner and Mallett, 2013).
The positive impact of the UN Millennium Project to promote growth in Africa has been linked with tens of thousands of families using combinations of fertiliser trees, phosphorus, and biomass, construction of emergency obstetric care facilities for women, achieving the coordination of African AIDS Commission with 1000 partner agencies, and addressing the issue of female genital mutilation (UN Millennium Project Report, 2005). Moreover, UN Millennium Project is credited for the development of financial instruments in order to protect farmers against price fluctuations and natural disasters.
The launch of Commission for Africa in 2005 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in the UK has been perceived by some as indication of focused approach being adopted by highly developed countries in terms of assisting Africa with its severe problems. Comprising seventeen members in total and nine members from Africa, the Commission for Africa has aimed to propose a coherent package of initiatives to making Africa stronger and more prosperous.
Importantly, recommendations proposed by Commission for Africa have been discussed and taken into account in G8 meetings in Glenagles on July 2005. Global initiatives such as Live 8 charity concert organised by Irish pop star Sir Bob Geldof has involved more than 1000 musicians performing with the broadcasts on 182 television networks and more than 2000 radio networks worldwide. Communicating the message of making poverty a history, the concerts took place on July 2, 2005 in 10 venues in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, USA, Canada, Japan and Russian Federation.
The success of Live 8 is linked to the fact that rather than asking individuals, organisations and countries for financial contribution in a direct manner, the initiative has aimed to increase the level of awareness of people towards the issues of poverty in general. Provision of food aid to Africa and its advantages Provision of food aid to Africa is associated with a set of conflicting objectives such as the willingness of developed countries to dispose of expiring food surplus at the same time when implementing their foreign policy (Branch, 2011).
The benefits of food aid to Africa is obvious and they are related to providing resources free of charge, saving many human lives from famine, and a potential for achieving stabilisation of food supply and price. At the same time, disadvantages of providing food as a foreign aid include formation or increasing level of dependency of receiver to this type of foreign aid and high costs associated with supply of food for donors. Disadvantages of foreign aid to Africa: popular sceptical arguments
As it has been discussed above UN Millennium Project is often praised by UN member governments for making substantial contribution in terms of promoting growth in Africa. At the same time, critics of the UN Millennium Project point to the absence of specific and measurable criteria against which the success of the project could be evaluated. Critics argue that due to the foreign aid Africa is more indebted today than ever before. It has been assessed that a large sum of cash is owed to the multilateral creditors with World Bank, and IMF being the main creditors” (Kazimbazi and Alexander, 2011, p. 29).
In other words, it can be observed that instead of promoting economic growth and providing funds for the government to deal with a range of severe issues the continent is faced with, the intervention of World Bank, IMF, and other external organisations with the economy of Africa have resulted in more debts being accrued. Aid absorption, defined as “the widening of the current account deficit due to incremental aid” (Schabbel, 2007, p. 277) can be mentioned as a stark example of ineffectiveness of foreign aids in Africa in terms of contributing to economic development.
The negative impact of corruption in Africa in distribution and utilisation of foreign aid is significant. There are convincing evidences (Barkan, 2011) that in all sectors in general, and in educational sector in particular only a small fraction of foreign aid reaches its intended destination, the major part being unlawfully consumed by corrupt officials. This problem has escalated to an extent where the World Bank’s county director Kundavi Kadiresan has warned some African countries with stopping the aids altogether unless decisive measures are taken to fight with corruption (Ford, 2010)
Interestingly, at the same time, the practice of donors channelling money to non-government organisations in a direct manner via commercial banks is often criticised by various parties, because Central Bank cannot control this money and accordingly, the real amount of aid coming to the country remains unclear. Moreover, economists argue that substantial amount of cash entering Africa as aids are increasing the level of demand for products and services, at the same time when the level of output of products and services are not increasing, and this situation is blamed for a very high level of inflation in Africa (Bilur et al. , 2011).
Some critics remain pessimistic to Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa because of the choice of traditional tools to help Africa selected by the Commission. Specifically, it has been argued that Commission for Africa relies on traditional strategies of endorsing increased foreign aid and writing off debts of African countries, and these strategies have proved to be ineffective and even counter-productive in the past. Conclusions
International aid to South Africa and other poor countries in Africa can be both, part of the problem or part of the solution for the issues of poverty reduction and achieving economic growth. So far due to a set of specific factors international aid has proved to be part of the problem towards the issues of poverty reduction and achieving economic growth in many poor countries. Specifically, these factors include but not limited to the lack of incentives for government officials to promote economic growth and extremely high levels of corruption within various government ranks
It is evident that despite the massive part of foreign aid being stolen by local authorities, foreign aid can assist poor African people to a certain extent. This is because food can be provided to poor people, as well as, schools can be built from a small fraction of foreign aid that eventually reaches the people it was intended for in the first place. However, the provision of foreign aid in the forms of food, cash and debt relief is only short-sighted approach to the issue, and the solution of problems for long-term perspectives require deep institutional changes.
Today foreign aid in poor countries in Africa is found to be subsidising a high level of corruption and incompetence of government officials and thus the provision of foreign aid in its present form needs to be subjected to immediate and comprehensive critical evaluation. All in all, This essay has outlined the motives ,The benefits, level of dependency, disadvantages and advantages of foreign aid in africa.