Friday, July 8

How to Help Africa

In the last five minutes I just read two polar opposite articles on how to best help the poorest countries of Africa. With the ongoing G-8 Summit and last week's Live-8 Concert bananza, this is a hot news topic these days, to say the least. As someone who has friends and family who live in that beautiful part of the world, it is more than a theoretical exercise to work through.

Time Article with Tony Blair

Spiegel Article

Neither response proposed in these two articles seems wise: Blair's answer to flood with overwhelming funds those countries whose corrupt leadership make a habit of procuring relief for their own gain or Shikwati's suggestion to totally ignore the issue, allowing African countries to "learn on their own" and build trade within their continent. Why does either believe that giving tons of money or taking away all relief will change the hearts and practices of leaders so drunk on power? Money isn't the answer here. Corruption cannot be tolerated as the acceptable form of government. I don't think it is our job (non-Africans) to force the change. There are decades of tradition that allow for this system of corruption to continue to flourish unchecked (I must point out that I do not mean to imply that all African leaders are corrupt). I don't know what the answer is for how they can internally alter their leadership to allow for healthy growth. Giving or keeping back money is the easy fix for the rest of the world, but I don't think it will make a dent in the needs of Africa.


Allan W. said...

So much to consider here. I need to think more before posting anything.

Interesting comparison of two ends of the spectrum. I wonder, however, where the current G8 question of debt relief fits in? Is that truly useful relief, or is it more handouts (by not holding African nations accountable for loans)?

Mark said...

I tend to think one who lives there is more informed about the sunject. Despite the interviewers attempts to get his interviewee to blame the western Nations for the problem he steadfastly insisted that Africa can solve their own problems. He makes sense to me.
Also, it seems to me that the guy interviewing Tony Blair was trying to get Blair to say America wasn't doing it's part but Blair refused to go along with that.
I am going to have to go with the African (sorry, I don't remember his name) on this one.

kristi w said...

Relying on someone who lives there to give input seems most wise, Mark. My brother, Jeff and his family have lived in Uganda for ten years. I'd be interested in his take on this subject.

kristi w said...

Here's the link to The One Campaign: