Aid to Africa: Some Hard Questions

Africa Expat Wife has written a long and thoughtful piece on the issue of British Aid to Africa in a time of recession. It makes far from comfortable reading, but it asks the sorts of hard questions which need to be faced up to.

I read over Christmas that the UK Government will have to find another £76 billion of public spending cuts over the next 8 years if it is to reduce its record £178 billion borrowing – (according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies) which equates to £2,400 for every family in Britain. (Sunday Times – Money – 13.12.09. Kathryn Cooper)

I also read that UK public workers may be facing pay freeze. Many teachers, doctors, nurses, civil servants, local government workers face pay caps, higher pension costs and increases in National Insurance payments. (thanks very much to my mother-in-law for regularly sending out a selection of UK Sunday supplements!).

Whilst cuts can possibly be made within Britain in the civil service etc. from my point of view, as a Brit living in Kenya, I might suggest cutting overseas aid budgets to bolster some of the UK’s national debt? I do not profess to be an expert but I do have had some limited experience within DFID and other international aid organisations so feel it’s OK to get on my soap box today.

What people in UK may not know is that right here, in East Africa and Nairobi, within the lucrative world of ‘aid to Africa’, given shape by huge organisations such as the UN, the World Bank, USAID, DFID etc. the world has gone officially crazy for the past ten years. Well staffed aid organisations with numerous highly qualified and trained staff running hundreds of programs routinely farm out work to external consultants, who then hire more consultants to organise their conferences, write reports, run their workshops and roll out their aid programs and schemes. It is what is known as the gravy train.

Even more uncomfortable, from the point of view of missions work is one of the comments on the blog post.

We most certainly don’t need all this expatriates running around the country pretending to help and we most certainly don’t need AID money from the UK.I think we should treat expatriates with the same hospitality they show us in their countries.

You can read the whole article here. I wouldn’t want to draw too many firm conclusions from one blog post, but it is important to recognise that things are often far more complex than they appear on the surface.

This post is more than a year old. It is quite possible that any links to other websites, pictures or media content will no longer be valid. Things change on the web and it is impossible for us to keep up to date with everything.

3 replies on “Aid to Africa: Some Hard Questions”

Great quotes. I look forward to reading the post.

I’m guilty of setting up my own playground/kingdom so I certainly won’t be throwing any stones (maybe straight up!).

Yep, there is a lot of AID that goes to waste via fraud and whatnot.
I have thought many times that we could cut the US deficit significantly by simply cutting the living quota for the embassy and US AID staff. Whenever I go to an embassy house I am astounded by the houses, the air conditioners, not to mention all the things they ship: giant flat screens, “gym-quality” treadmills.

And then there is the whole commissary thing – vast quantities of imported food to make their time here more like “America”. (Not that I don’t love a good Dr. Pepper now and then but I routinely do without for stretches of several years).

The worst thing is that our AID to country X always includes the cost of living of the US AID workers so it is horribly inflated.

PS. Why does your blog keep talking to me? I keep turning off the audio blog and it just starts back up.

No idea why it talks to you, Tim. It doesn’t talk to me. Does anyone else have any problem with my audio files talking too much?

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