SAJC Prelim 2016 – Does global aid really improve the lives of those who need it the most?

David Cameron aptly elucidated that long-term development through aid only happens if there is a ‘golden thread’ of stable government, lack of corruption, human rights, the rule of law and transparent information. Inequalities in the world are rife and are mostly plagued by less developing countries like India and Africa. However, eradicating these problems ins search of a better life for the impoverished cannot be merely resolved through monetary aid. This is precisely why most of the poor are still trapped run poverty despite the billions of dollars of aid that have Africa. Thus, I provisionally opine that global aid does not entirely improve the lives of those who need it the most.

Firstly, global aid does not improve the lives of those who need it the most because political power tends to be exercised and monopolised by the narrow elite in some countries. Thus, any form of financial aid will only end up benefiting the rich, while the poor remain poor. This is best manifested in the large number of Syrians living in poverty. The richest man in Syria, Rami Makhlouf is the cousin of president Bashar-al-Assad and controls a series of government created monopolies. As such, victims of the ongoing Syrian war rarely receive aid from USAID and their lives remain bleak. Additionally, in some cases, there are inherent faults in governmental practices that render global aid futile. In Indonesia, the government confiscated subsistence farmers’ merger plots for aid-financed irrigation canals. In Mali, farmers were forced to sell their crops at low prices to a joint project of USAID and the Mali government. In these cases, it is structurally difficult for the poor to fully benefit from global aid because governments, being innately concerned about economic gains, may act in ways that impede the poor’s search for a better life.

Global aid does not improve the lives of those who need it the most because it creates an atmosphere of high dependancy which is not sustainable in the long run. If a country persistently depends on global aid to improve the lives of the impoverished, it is no doubt that the country will see an increase in education and income levels. However, all forms of aid only last for a limited period of time, and the recipient country must be self-sufficient in the long run to truly say that the lives of the poor have improved. For instance, in 2010, nearly $90 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) aid was given by member nations of the UN’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). This has created highly dependant nations such as Kenya who believe that aid is the only way to lift themselves out of poverty. Despite being highly dependant on aid, Kenya is still ranked sixth on the extreme poverty index as of 2015. Thus, it is fair to say the global aid will only be deemed truly effective for the poor if the recipient countries develop ways to improve the lives of the poor and not be myopic short term utility maximisers.

Furthermore, global aid does not improve the lives of those who need it the most due to the intrinsically unstable and perilous environment in developing countries. Regardless of the amount of global aid to send children to school, these less developed countries are still plagued with terrorist groups that make the people’s quest for a better life futile. For instance, the UK government’s Department for International Development (DfID) is working with the Nigerian government to spend 126 million pounds in 2019 in eight northern Nigerian states for a 10-year state education plan. However, how effective can these truly be when terrorist groups like Boko Haram are kidnapping girls, depriving their right to education and search for a better life? Until the Nigerian government can eradicate such terrorist groups, I remain resolute in my belief that global aid fails to help those who need it the most.

Nonetheless, the natural corollary to the aforementioned arguments would be that while the global aid fiasco is prominent, there have been instances where global aid has improved the lives of the poor. This is possible when the government is also concerned about the plight of the impoverished. Death rates in many poor countries are falling sharply due to the aid-supported programmes for healthcare delivery. Kenya’s infant mortality has plummeted in recent years due to the massive uptake of anti-malaria bed nets. African leaders also took on the challenge of battling the continent’s epidemics. Nigeria hosted two landmark summits, on  malaria in 2000 and on Aids in 2001, which were crucial to spur action. Thus, when the government takes a genuine concern in the plight of the oppressed, global aid has a higher chance of improving their lives. However, one must concur that the politics of today is very much different and as governments get more profit-motivated, it is hard for global aid to always benefit victims, though there are some instances when it does. (MARKER’S COMMENTS: Explain & elaborate, any specific examples?)

All in all, global aid will merely be a monetary transaction between counties if governments cannot make full use of the aid to improve the lives of the poor.

Score: 34/50

Marker’s comments: Largely well-written but your rebuttal to counter argument needs clarity and specific examples to substantiate.

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