Diskussion über Themen der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (EZ) in/mit Westafrika einschließlich (und vor allem) der politischen sowie sozio-ökonomischen Bedingungen in den Ländern und was EZ bewirken kann -- oder auch nicht -- oder ob sie aber nicht sogar schadet. ACHTUNG: In Ermangelung von Kommentaren lediglich Beiträge zu EZ-Themen. _________________________________________________________________

21. Juni 2007

Von den Lords of Poverty auf die Road to Hell geschickt

Über seine Busfahrt auf seinem Weg aus dem Sudan nach Nairobi/Kenia hält Paul Theroux folgende Eindrücke fest:

(Hervorhebungen durch mich.)

"That was the way of the world, but it seemed an African peculiarity that whenever a town or city grew bigger it got uglier, messier, more dangerous, an effect of bad planning, underfunding and theft. And a feature of every settlement was the sight of African men standing under trees, congregated in the shade. They were not waiting for buses, they were just killing time, because they had no jobs. They must have had gardens - most people did - but the farm work of planting and hoeing was presumably done by their womenfolk. In Kenya, whenever I saw a well-formed tree near a village or town, I saw men under it, doing nothing, looking phlegmatic and abstracted.
Even the most prosperous towns in this part of
Kenya had the bright signboards and relief agencies, the offices and supply depots - people doling out advice and food and condoms. The merchandise of the gang of virtue. This was true in Kericho, its large leafy tea estates softening its green hills and valleys. Maybe such places attracted missionaries and agents of virtue because they were so pleasant to live in? Maybe communications were better here than in the remote bush? Whenever I saw a town that looked tidy and habitable I saw the evidence of foreign charities - Oxfam, Project Hope, the Hunger Project, Food for Africa, SOS Children's Villages, Caritas, many others, with saintly names and a new white Land-Rover or Land Cruiser parked in front.
As this was a coffee-growing area, anyone of these vehicles could have belonged to the satirical figure of Dickens's Mrs Jellyby and her African Project. She had said, 'We hope by this time next year to have from a hundred and fifty to two hundred healthy families cultivating coffee and educating the natives of Borrioboola-Gha.'
Mine is not a complaint, merely an observation, because hearing horror stories about uneducated starving Africans, most Americans or Europeans become indignant and say, Why doesn't someone do something about it? But much was apparently being done - more than I had ever imagined. Since the Kenyan government cared so little about the well-being of its people, concerns such as health and education had been taken up by sympathetic foreigners. The charities were well established. Between the Bata Shoes retail store and the local Indian shop, you would find the office of WorldVision or Save the Children - 'Blurred Vision' and 'Shave the Children' to the cynics. These organizations had grown out of disaster relief agencies but had become national institutions, permanent fixtures of welfare and services.
I wondered - seriously wondered - why this was all a foreign effort, why Africans were not involved in helping themselves. And also, since I had been a volunteer teacher myself, why, after forty years, had so little progress been made?
An entire library of worthy books describes at best the uselessness, at worst the serious harm, brought about by aid agencies. Some of the books are personal accounts, others are scientific and scholarly. The findings are the same.
‘Aid is not help' and 'aid does not work' are two of the conclusions reached by Graham Hancock in his The Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige and Corruption of the International Aid Business (1989), a well-researched account of wasted money. Much of Hancock's scorn is reserved for the dubious activities of the World Bank. ‘Aid projects are an end in themselves,' Michael Maren writes in The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity (1997). One of Maren's targets is the charity Save the Children, which he sees as a monumental boondoggle. Both writers report from experience, having spent many years in
Third World countries on aid projects.
While these writers are kinder to volunteers in disaster relief than to highly paid bureaucrats in institutional charities, both of them also assert that all aid is self-serving, large-scale famines are welcomed as a 'growth opportunity' and the advertising to stimulate donations for charities is little more than 'hunger porn.'
'Here is a rule of thumb that you can safely apply wherever you may wander in the
Third World,' Mr Hancock writes. 'If a project is funded by foreigners it will typically also be designed by foreigners and implemented by foreigners using foreign equipment procured in foreign markets.'
As proof of that rule of thumb, the most salutary and least cited book about development in
Africa is an Italian study, Guidelines for the Application of Labor-Intensive Technologies (1994), revolutionary in its simplicity, advocating the use of African labor to solve African problems. After describing the many social and economic advantages of employing people themselves, working with their hands, to build dams, roads, sewer systems and watercourses, the authors, Sergio Polizzotti and Daniele FanciulIacci, discuss constraints imposed by the donors. Donors specify that purchases of machinery have to be made in the donor country, or bids restricted to firms in the donor country, or that a time limit is placed on the scheme, which 'encourages the tendency towards large contracts and heavy spending on equipment.'
Labor-intensive projects are few in
Africa because so much donor aid is self-interested.
(Seiten 201-203 in der Pinguin-Ausgabe von 2002)

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