How a country becomes a photo op
Here’s a statement I got from the Returnees Caucus. They have a four-point point to make so put down your ukulele, boys and girls. It’s hammer tyyyme.
So what happens when a group of “politically diverse businesspeople and professionals” meet at the Sheraton? They make four-point pointers. Such as? Such as… [All emphasis added.]
- Expressing our heart-felt appreciation of the donor community’s debt-cancellation measures, and acknowledging that the crucial elements of the Paris Club’s policy decisions will positively impact
’s development efforts, we call on the international community to increase its generous support to this country as it wrestles against formidable of economic challenges. Ethiopia
Ex-squeeze me very much. Did you say increase? Yeah. Let’s ask the donor community for more money because the $1.9 billion dollars it pours into the country has worked so well. Poverty in Ethiopia has been alleviated, Ethiopia is not in the midst of yet another devastating famine, the World Bank’s assessment of the economy is not tragic… oh, wait. I’m sorry, that’s in the Bizzaro Ethiopian World. I am assuming that some of the returnees might have lived in the
2. Similarly, confident that the efforts being made by the World Bank and IMF to ensure the continuation of the support provided to
Don't know how this is different from point numero uno except it is a more politely worded "send more money" SOS. Yeah, yeah. Except the World Bank is now headed by a strong neo-con who believes in the spreading of the democracy and attaching aid to good government. Paul Wolfowitz is actually eminently lobby-able by Ethiopians in the Diaspora. (Not to mention sexy in a ‘let’s preempt’ kinda way.) The tide has turned with the American people who are starting to get jittery that their tax money is being used to prop up governments who use aid to suppress democracy. The whole ports debacle has 'sensitized' our legislators, and goodness gracious, if it ain’t mid-term elections.
- Whereas international assistance is pivotal to help
reach the Millennium Development Goal and help millions of Ethiopians break out of the poverty trap; and such positive external intervention is also beneficial to us returnees who have invested capital in many private-sector endeavourers, we call for the expansion of international aid to the country. Ethiopia
Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place? Apparently there are all kinds of factors working here. It seems (could it be?) that international aid is a lucrative business. And why not? ‘Things We Should Have Written Down’ had an excellent post, Lords of Hypocrisy 2:
The estimated budget for an upcoming 17-day ‘research trip’ by an acquaintance working for an anti-hunger NGO:
SUV rental: 500 birr per day x 17 = 8,500 birr ($979)
Gas for SUV: 600 birr per day x 17 = 10,200 birr ($1,175)
Hotels: 200 birr (two people) per night x 17 = 3,400 birr ($391)
Miscellaneous supplies: 100 birr per day x 17 = 1,700 birr ($195)
Estimated Total Expenses: 23,800 birr ($2,741)
Destination: Several of the top tourist spots in
Justification for this trip: “Preliminary research for a future survey”
So on this feeding chain there are hoteliers, SUV rental enterprises, gas station owners, ‘miscellaneous’ supplies’ suppliers-- all ready to partake in fighting hunger. So there you have it. Except there’s a ‘but’. But surely, you might be compelled to think, surely
From my heart, ouch.
Please tell me we are on point 4…
- Finally confident that our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora will share our view that external aid to
is critical particularly to the poor of our country, we will continue to make our voice herd emphasizing the need for the continuation of aid to Ethiopia . Ethiopia
Uh. Is there anything in points 1-3 that’s about the poor? Let’s be honest: no one gives a damn about the poor because even 1% of that $1.9 billion would have helped a lot of the poor. I am involved in a small scale project with a $50K annual budget. That small organization has been able to change a few lives here and there. We do what we can despite the bullshit bureaucracy. So let’s not get the poor involved in this ending poverty business.
I am not sure how often the Returnees Caucasus meets, but maybe next time it can tell us why we should reward a government that has been so blindingly incompetent and brutal. Most of us ignored politics and hunkered to do our part for
I mean, c’mon. Who charges political opponents with genocide and treason? Who the hell charges VOA reporters with trying to incite fucking genocide? It’s so bush league. But, at least there is something that coalesces the Returnees: more foreign aid.
Meanwhile, the Diaspora is saying that
In the 80s NGOs thought they were doing us a favor by bombarding the world with picture after picture of big bellied Ethiopian children suckling on their dying mother’s breast. The world was outraged, I tell you, outraged. How many millions were raised? How much went to “the poor”? How much of the “external intervention” then was also “beneficial” to those who had a vested interest in “calling for the expansion of international aid” to
Give me a break.
What the Diaspora is saying is that Ethiopian poverty shouldn’t just be a line on a policy wonk’s resume. Returnees are telling us to go back home and see what it’s like. Well, I have a proposal: we will if you come back to the
The Diaspora is saying that
Okay. We probably won’t agree on the issue of foreign aid with our returnee brothers and sisters. But I’m sure we can find common ground… You all like Seinfeld?
Here’s some fantastic reading:
Comedy of Errors: Few of the commission’s ideas are new. Most have been tried before, including throwing money at
“Debt forgiveness creates a problem of moral hazard,” Mwenda argues. “One country borrows and invests the loan wisely and repays. Another borrows and squanders the loan, is unable to pay back and is forgiven. Such a scheme rewards incompetence and penalises good performance, and therefore creates a disincentive to better loan management.”
Cruel to be Kind: “Live Aid forced the world to confront the Ethiopian famine and raised more than £50m. But as Bob Geldof prepares his Live 8 reprise, aid expert David Rieff argues that guilt-stricken donations helped fund a brutal resettlement programme that may have killed up to 100,000”
IRIN interview with Berhanu Nega on foreign aid.
QUESTION: What do you think aid has achieved in
ANSWER: If by aid we mean making a difference in the lives of people over the long term, helping people to live in a situation whereby they do not have to face those kinds of emergencies, then obviously aid has failed, because the number of people affected by emergencies has significantly increased over the years.
If you look at the famine the country faced in the 1970s, some one million people were affected, in 84/85 about six million, and now you have 12 million to 14 million. It is getting worse through time despite all these policy interventions trying to improve production and rural life. Aid in the short term might have saved lives, but in the long run it seems things are getting worse.
Lords of Hypocrisy: The opulence and inefficiency of the NGO in developing countries is well-worn territory, but it has become much more intimate for me now that I am in
Here are several recent examples that I have witnessed first hand that have left me sourly disappointed and disenchanted with the multi-billion dollar industry that is aid work.
Ethiopia: A ‘man made’ disaster: A government study made public on Thursday has condemned a much-heralded $200m a year aid programme aimed at ending perennial hunger in Ethiopia for failing to meet its targets and causing "a man-made disaster"…. As of the end of May, only 11% of cash and 44% of food had reached people in need, said the study by the government's emergency nutrition co-ordination unit.
"The inadequate implementation of the productive safety net programme is resulting in a man-made disaster in many areas of the country," the study said.
… On the same day, the European Union said it would augment its funding for the program by $72m over two years.