Wednesday, August 15, 2007

US food aid to Africa hurts instead of helps

CARE, one of the world's biggest charities, is walking away from about $45 million a year in federal funding, saying American food aid is not only plagued with inefficiencies, but may hurt some of the very poor people it aims to help.

Its decision, which has deeply divided the world of food aid, is focused on the practice of selling tons of American farm products in African countries that in some cases compete with the crops of struggling local farmers.

"If someone wants to help you, they shouldn't do it by destroying the very thing that they're trying to promote," said George Odo, a CARE official who grew disillusioned with the practice while supervising the sale of American wheat and vegetable oil in Nairobi.

Under the system, the U.S. government buys the goods from American agribusiness, ships them overseas on mostly American-flagged carriers and then donates the goods to the aid groups. The groups sell the products in poor countries and use the money to fund their anti-poverty programs there.

"What's happened to humanitarian organizations over the years is that a lot of us have become contractors on behalf of the government," said Odo of CARE. "That's sad but true. It compromised our ability to speak up when things went wrong."

Read on at International Herald Tribune

1 comment:

Yesi King said...

this was an excellent article. thank you for posting it. its actually not a new phenomenon. there is an ongoing debate going on about the role charities play in developing/impoverished countries. many claim that they keep those individuals whom they claim are trying to help, dependent and stumped in their growth both economically and socially. the critique is that instead of helping to provide a means for them to sustain themselves and their family such as creating jobs or some sort of self-employment, they do the opposite and create more poverty for the future generations by just keeping them dependent.