All of my colleagues know that I am not a big fan of development aid. To put it bluntly, I despise aid. I have always had my suspicion about aid being a tool of global conspiracy intended to maintain a certain world order in which certain countries will continue to be the guinea pigs in the test on poverty traps.
But in October 2010 when I attended the Working Party (WP) meeting in Tunis, the conversations there firmed up my belief that aid is a dangerous weapon. The WP meeting was in preparation for Busan 2011 where the world was meeting to discuss the new development aid modality and craft the successor to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Off course from Busan came the Busan Declaration dubbed the “Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-Operation.” Another fancy catch phrase that means nothing and will achieve nothing. I can bet!
Anyway, I sat through various meetings in Tunis, I was impressed with the level of discussions until some prominent development actors started revealing that these same conversations were held in the 1970’s. And then in 2010 we are still talking about the same things? I am like, what? Are these guys really serious? You guys sat around the table and talked these things before we were born and we are here talking about them again?
As the conversations continued, I got even more depressed. And then I started understanding why development partners and donors bring their aid with so much conditions and deliberately focus on the wrong things. In too many cases, the implementation modalities see a lot of resources going back to the donor countries and only pennies are left in the recipient countries but at great expense to these countries.
Then it all started making sense to me. I started to wonder why would aid want to put aid out business? We deceive ourselves when we think the true objective of aid is to deliver countries out of poverty when in fact it turns out that aid is really intended to keep countries in poverty so that donors and “development partners” can continue to have work to do. Why hasn’t it occur to us that it is in the interest of those delivering aids to ensure that aid doesn’t end poverty so that they can continue to have work to do? This means that the true objective of aid is for recipient countries to continue to remain in those state so that the lucrative industry of delivering aid can continue to flourish.
Look at it this way: there are no new countries being created and so if all the existing poor countries were to break out of poverty, wouldn’t the lucrative industry of aid die? In order for aid to be in business, there must be more poor countries and so deliberate efforts must be made to keep them poor.
The vexing question is why do we agree to play by their rules?
The problem I see most times is that these rich donor countries and individuals they use to implement this global conspiracy have succeeded in conditioning our thought process to believe that they are on our side and all we need to do is listen to what they say and do what they prescribe. Whenever I had the opportunity, I asked them to show me where their prescriptions have worked before and usually I don’t get any answer.
They look at very poor countries and they tell them that they should finance their development from domestic sources. How? After World War 2 did Europe finance its reconstruction and development from domestic resource mobilization? Didn’t the guys put in place a Marshall Plan to assist Europe because big problems need big solutions In fact, even today, these rich countries are using “leverage” to finance their development but then they develop rules and conditions that limit poor countries from using similar tools to develop themselves.
For example, the size of your economy is very small and then they prescribe that what you borrow MUST be a proportion of the size of your economy but meanwhile the size of your problem is several times the times of your current economy and unless you solve those problems, your economy will never grow and produce the transformation that is required to improve living conditions. But it is surprising that poor countries accept these prescriptions because they fear that if they don’t, they will not receive more aids. That is exactly where they want you! They want you to be dependent on aid so that you can never break the circle of poverty.
How we have come to accept that these poor countries will develop on the basis on domestically generated revenues amidst all the herculean infrastructural challenges is mind boggling and bewildering to say the least. If these countries are not creative to effectively use the power of “leverage” to address the structural impediments or ‘binding constraints” to economic growth, they ready themselves to be those state for decades if not centuries. Only the radicals and those written off by them (like South Korea) have progress in the several decades.
In my honest opinion, aid succeeds when they have convinced us that we should continue to depend on them even though they have no interest in solving our problems. True be told, they shouldn’t. Why should they?