Friday, October 15, 2010

Too Much Aid to Handle?

In a recent Beyond Profit article, Jerryanne Heath raises an interesting point in regard to the outpouring of aid that Haiti has received since the earthquake last January. She argues that in this particular situation, aid should be focused on saving immediate lives rather than improving the long-term infrastructure or developing a ten year plan for Haiti.

Why? Aren't both forms of aid important for creating a stable nation?

Heath points out what many people tend to forget: Countries can't just be grouped into developed and developing nations. Haiti's past is unique. By ignoring the specific economic and political plight of the Haitian people and overwhelming its government with money that it cannot fully use, donors not only waste money, but diminish Haiti's responsibility to become a sovereign, mature democracy, able to support its own citizens.

What's the solution then? During a crisis such as the earthquake, the priority, of course, is saving lives. It has been inspirational to see the outpouring of support and aid flow to a nation during a time when it needs it the most. But continuing to give aid to help "develop" a nation without a clear action plan on how to solve the overwhelming corruption in Haiti is in many ways irresponsible. The focus should be on helping Haiti to develop a functioning, legitimate government, with the power to tax and distribute aid to its own people. Then, and only then, will aid given to the nation be fully used.

What does this have to do with The Borgen Project? Well, one of the questions we frequently get asked is, "How can we support giving aid to countries that are obviously corrupt? How can you be sure that the aid will reach the people who actually need it?" We have the same concern. We don't support throwing money arbitrarily at nations. We want our Congressional leaders to develop plans with other nations to ensure that aid is not siphoned through corrupt politicians, illegitimate businesses, or drug tycoons. Nations that wish to receive aid must understand the importance of eliminating corruption.

-Corey Cox

SOURCE: Beyond Profit