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Somalia and Aid?

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Just now, John Cuthber said:

No, you always seem to be in the right thread for that.

This thread is about... well, just read the OP.

Read it.

This bit is apt.

having been kept alive by famine relief

 

Still as long as YOU feel good doing the aid thing and 'saving' Africa...

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To be fair, the author quoted in OP seems to be quite misinformed on a number of issues, including the concepts of evolution. As such, obviously he is espousing his opinion which are quite obviously lacking context or are outright wrong. He claims that over the last 50 years Somalia the population was kept alive by food aid. Yet, looking at IMF data Somalia was self-sufficient until the late 70s and until the early 80s they exported significant amount of livestock to fuel their economy.

Famines really flared up in the wake of civil war, but also by the influence of the IMF which imposed certain austerity measures that arguably further destabilized the country as some economists argue. These measures, including the devaluation of their currency increased prices for agricultural imports (fertilizers, fuel, irrigation systems etc.). Moreover, to increase income the government favored the production of high-value agricultural products for export rather than for consumption. These and many other factors led to a vicious cycle in which the country grew more and more dependent on external food sources, which destroyed the abilities of local farmers to compete leading to starvation, leading to destabilization. 

Now whether that analysis is correct depends a bit on the sources. However, it is clear that Somalia did not grew to starvation due to foreign aid in the last 50 years (considering its ability to secure food and maintain population growth during droughts before the destabilization of the country). It is also easy to see that the article was full of fluff, bluster and polemics, but does not provide even a little bit of insight on what is happening in the countries he is talking about. 

The two-dimensional view of these nations and their people, effectively reducing them to populations of cattle that outstrip existing resources (based on what? Much of Europe has outstripped its resources by that measure!) makes it quite clear that this opinion column does not deserve an in-depth analysis and heck, I wasted far too much time here.

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56 minutes ago, CharonY said:

To be fair, the author quoted in OP seems to be quite misinformed on a number of issues, including the concepts of evolution. As such, obviously he is espousing his opinion which are quite obviously lacking context or are outright wrong.

The two-dimensional view of these nations and their people, effectively reducing them to populations of cattle that outstrip existing resources (based on what? Much of Europe has outstripped its resources by that measure!) makes it quite clear that this opinion column does not deserve an in-depth analysis and heck, I wasted far too much time here.

I believe that's hit the nail on the proverbial head! Well said!

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Posted (edited)

Yes this is a quite complex topic including historical, geographical, political, social, economic, ethical,  .. well, all kinds of points of view.  If we ask a simple question: Should we help?, I believe it can be answered simply even without considering all those points of view, trying to grasp such complexity.

I have mentioned it in my initial post but if someone is asking and another one feels good about giving, I believe that arguments against such a goodwill ought to be very solid to undermine an unselfish* act of empathy towards another human being. 

*where selfish is defined as: for own benefit, without regards for others

Edited by tuco

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Whether the premise is true or not, that by helping we are creating a larger problem, the alternative, to stand by and watch people die of hunger/thirst/disease, isn't something I would be proud of as a human being.

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Just now, MigL said:

Whether the premise is true or not, that by helping we are creating a larger problem, the alternative, to stand by and watch people die of hunger/thirst/disease, isn't something I would be proud of as a human being.

That is a fair point. But I maintain that it is not about helping or not helping, but rather try to administer help that takes local conditions and systems into account. A big issue is that traditionally a kind of almost colonist approach was taken, which disregarded local economic systems. The good news is that many help organizations have realized that and try to provide help in collaboration with locals. 

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38 minutes ago, MigL said:

Whether the premise is true or not, that by helping we are creating a larger problem, the alternative, to stand by and watch people die of hunger/thirst/disease, isn't something I would be proud of as a human being.

Totally agree! People though can and will attempt to justify just about anything you can think of, no matter how extreme.

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Posted (edited)

@CharonY I beg to differ or rather depending on how we look at it. Primary is a motivator, that is helping for various reasons, and how such help will be administered is secondary, in a thought process anyway. 

The OP article is about such motivator, conscience, while trying to argue that it's misguided. In my opinion not very successfully because it does not undermine the motivator nor it analyzes the problem in depth and draws conclusions based on distorted premises. 

Edited by tuco

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A useful old adage - the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Before people prattle on about their lofty plans for saving Africa I suggest they do a bit of research or just visit the place. 

Africa was doing OK for a century before  'aid' started destroying the place.

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!

Moderator Note

NortonH, if you can't provide any evidence to support your case, all you are doing is baseless posturing. Kindly provide some, or you will find your posts split to the trash.

 

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Posted (edited)

That is a strange thing to say as Africa was being colonized in the century before. It is also conveniently ignores the challenges of decolonization and the success stories of properly implemented aid. The overall lack of insight is clearly visible by generalizing things over all of Africa, for example. Not that I claim to know significantly more, after all ,in Western countries little is taught about African history. However, I am not making strong claims without any level of support.

 

Darnit, crossposted again, hyper.

Edited by CharonY

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3 minutes ago, CharonY said:

That is a strange thing to say as Africa was being colonized in the century before.

It was during the colonial period that Africa developed. Food production went from subsistence to large scale commercial farming in less than fifty years. Countries like Zimbabwe have reversed the process. In 1880 there were no railways in Africa. Eighty years later you could take a train from Capetown to Nairobi and beyond. In 1960 Nigeria was one of the largest peanut growers in the world no commercial agriculture is all but irrelevant there. In the 1970s it was not uncommon to holiday in Mogadishu and people went on honeymoons to Belgian Congo (DRC). Hydroelectric power went from zero gigawatts with schemes like Kariba and Caborra Bassa.

So what is strange about saying that it was in this century that Africa developed?

 

 

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15 hours ago, MigL said:

Whether the premise is true or not, that by helping we are creating a larger problem, the alternative, to stand by and watch people die of hunger/thirst/disease, isn't something I would be proud of as a human being.

Empathy and charity may ultimately  bring about  our downfall but we can go down with peace of mind.

12 hours ago, NortonH said:

Before people prattle on about their lofty plans for saving Africa I suggest they do a bit of research or just visit the place. 

Can you cut out the sneering wordage? It's not necessary. Thanks.

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17 hours ago, NortonH said:

So what is strange about saying that it was in this century that Africa developed?

You did not say Africa was being developed under colonialism. You said it was doing OK. This neglect the obvious facts that developments served to extract wealth from colonies, typically with subjugation of the native population to various degrees. The system was designed to benefit the colonizer country and the ruling elite and not for the population. Furthermore, the economies were not designed to be sustainable and hence at least part of the decline in some areas after gaining independence is based on these built in inefficiencies. A number of scholars (see e.g. books by Robinson and  Heldring) have made the point that especially in countries that were already organized in states in pre-colonial times have retarded the development of the country by  inhibiting political development and removing accountability from their leaders. In countries with white settlements, the extraction of wealth had a lasting impact on inequality and economic development.

It is not uncommon to see that folks argue that colonialism was the key element in modernizing  or, even worse "civilizing" Africa. However, this is based on a heavily eurocentric telelological view of history that is generally dismissed by  modern historians.

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On 03/03/2018 at 3:36 AM, CharonY said:

You did not say Africa was being developed under colonialism.

Well I say it developed. Doing OK was understating it. You say that wealth was extracted from colonies. It was also PRODUCED there and plenty of it stayed behind. Have you noticed how much infrastructure was created in that time? It was designed to benefit anyone who invested, time, money or effort. The economies were no less 'sustainable' than any other economies. 
If what the colonists did was so wrong (ie developing the countries) then why are we now encouraging those same countries to do exactly the same thing? ie build roads, factories, commercial farms? etc

What is 'Euro-centric' about development in Africa and what is wrong with it?

If you lived in Africa what would you want? Would you want the same standard of living as you currently enjoy or would you feel that that was 'Eurocentric' and opt for something more closely resembling pre-colonial Africa?

 

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Ok so I took a few courses on anthropology in college, especially on developmental sociology and took a seminar on developmental aid. It is true that the initial aid projects did a lot of harm because they went into the field with very little research and a lot of very naïve assumptions. But they learned a lot from these mistakes, too. For good reasons, neither the people nor the governments trusted the aid organisations, because they were still wary of their colonial past and suspected an ulterior motive in these projects - and some of them indeed did (and still do) have ulterior motives. It didn't help that those giving aid were often arrogant, and disappointed that those they were trying to help seemed ungrateful for their efforts. Especially projects that gave natives employment saw a lot of footdragging from their native workers. A common hypothesis is that they again felt like they were working to further the goals of some rich person far away, and that this was benefiting the aid provider more than themselves. After all, their previous colonial lords handled them rather similarly, just with a lot more violence. Educating the people to a level where they might have been able to plan their own development projects led many of them to seeking opportunities in countries where their expertise would be more profitable, and thereby they supportet the dreaded brain drain in the countries they wanted to aid. We don't really need to talk about providing the local governments with money, because as mentioned in previous contributions, this only led to more oppressive governments and not more infrastructure investment, and war with their neighbours.

Now that I've illustrated a few - certainly not all - problems, let me propose this: Make the people belive that they are working for themselves. If you just give them money, they will sqander it. If you LEND them money to build the business and projects THEY want to pursue, they will have a stake in it, and work for it. Your motive will be clear as you want to be paid back your money, so no ulterior motives to fear. They will themselves look for education (beyond the basic education provided to them in the missionary school), and they will use their skills to make it on their own. They might still go to a richer country and seek better profit opportunities there, and they will still need crisis relief until the entire economy is self sufficient, as these projects take time. It will also take up to three generations of constant growth to reduce the number of children born per woman below 3 (very thumby rule of thumb).

Basically, you need to play a game of inception

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