Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

Aid to African despots – why?

G550Charities often say they get more contributions from working class ie poorer sections of the community than the middle or upper classes. (OK, there are exceptions like Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.)

And now that seems to apply to the UK as well. We’re in the s**t economically yet we strive to take the lead on overseas development. No wonder it’s causing a stink when we can’t afford to fund hospitals, schools or care for the elderly in our own country.

And some countries eg India, don’t even want our help let alone need it. India, like other BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia and China), is booming and can afford to have a large army, run a space programme, and be a nuclear power. That it doesn’t spend its money on improving basic living conditions for the 25% of its population living below the poverty line merely reflects badly on a country that claims to be the world’s largest democracy.

A lot of people refuse to give money to charities in Africa because they wonder how much aid actually gets through with all the corruption and inefficiency (and Bob Geldof can shove his “ignore the corruption thing”. Why should we? I don’t begrudge him the plaudits he got for Band Aid but since then he’s enjoyed the high life on the back of it – well it wasn’t his crap music was it – and no-one likes to feel they’ve been ripped off).

Stories of NGO staff riding around in expensive 4 wheel-drive vehicles, dictators buying top of the range bullet proof Mercs eg Zimbabwe (68% of population living below poverty line), Malawi which bought 39 S-class Mercedes (53%), and Swaziland which bought a fleet of BMWs for the King’s wives plus a £1/4M Maybach 62 for him (69%), don’t help.

And the latest news is that we gave Uganda £70M in aid and the President went out and spent £30M on a top of the range private jet – a Gulfstream G550. So is it any wonder that I don’t want to contribute to paying for some despot’s Mercedes or gold-plated Kalshnikovs.

Providing vaccination, largely courtesy of Bill Gates, is definitely better than giving money. Providing countries with the technology and skills to feed themselves would be even better and birth control to reduce the number of hungry mouths needing to be fed would help enormously.  

Jonathan Clayton’s commentary in The Times today (05/07/11) is spot on. He writes about Kenya being listed as one of the countries supposedly facing the worst food crisis of the century.

This he reminds us is the destination of choice for the rich and the royal with its capital Nairobi booming and full of 5 star restaurants.

And a country which makes millions exporting fresh flowers, which need a lot of water, and vegetables to the UK.

In short a country that can afford to feed its poor but doesn’t want to.  And why would you if the UN – paid for by western taxpayers –  and other aid workers and charities do it for you?

In this case it isn’t necessarily dictators and despots but lack of political will and pure commercial considerations, albeit influenced by tribal loyalties.

Updated 4 November 2011: November’s Management Today magazine lists the worst countries for corruption.

Here they are in order of their Trust Index Scores

  1. Somalia
  2. Afghanistan & Myanmar
  3. Iraq
  4. Sudan, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan
  5. Chad
  6. Burundi
  7. Angola & Equatorial Guinea
  8. DR of Congo, Guinea, Kyrgystan, & Venezuela
  9. Cambodia, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazaville, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Tajikistan
Source: Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2010:
Advertisements

Author: mikethepsych

He says he's a psychologist but aren't we all?

Comments are closed.