Nowadays, everything is money, nothing is free. A person cannot proper in today’s free market without having financial assets. Most activities of these days are embedded to trade, as such; free trade impacts every aspects of life. Although societies have traded for thousands of years, the last 35 years is an explosion in international trade. In 1970, the value of world export of goods and services amounted to 0.4 trillion dollars, which is about a quarter of world output. Globalists believe the recent multinational trade agreements and technological advances that reduce time and cost of transportation have actual resulted to economic growth and prosperity, and the overall development of all nations around the world. They are pratically right, but ethically wrong.
The free market economy of recent days has increased inequality between developed and underdeveloped countries, donor and recipient nations, rich and poor people, men and women, dominant and subordinated groups, etc. Since the relationship between aid donor and recipient nations depends upon the radical interest of profit maximization, most poor countries tend to rely heavily on the support of rich countries in order to implement development programs. Most of the development projects are directly influenced by the donor’s interest such that they do not account for values of recipient nations.
Most donor nations use foreign aid as a vehicle to reach their private interests; they do not care about improving environmental quality and building a sustainable development. For instead, a lot of the aid money meant for the most desperate people in Africa is not being spent with accountability.
Therefore, it is important to analyze the nature of free trade and development aid by identifying who loses and who gains in it. As most scholars would agree, rich people are obviously getting richer at the expenses of poor people as have capital to invest and power to utilize in a completive market. Consequently, the gap between poor and rich people has widened today than ever before. Therefore, development aid is increasing exploitation, domination and distortion of economic, social and political relationship throughout the world because it benefits donor nations and ruling elites in recipient countries at the expense of the poor people in rural areas.
There are couples of misconceptions about aid that need to be clarified. First of all, aid is not free. It is a soft loan with a concessional rate that is given by self-centered donors to corrupt recipient governments. Secondly, aid money is being first spent in donor nations before it reaches recipient nations. For example, the Canadian aid to Africa is first spent in Canada on Canadian food suppliers, contractors, drug companies, and many others. It is clear that donor nations benefit from aid more than recipient nations.
Foreign aid is channelled through individuals, private business organizations, and public aid agencies. There are three forms of aid; humanitarian, military and development aid. Humanitarian aid is the only one that benefits recipients more than donors. It is intended to alleviate human suffering, save lives, protect human dignity and preserve future. Since this kind of aid is being sent during international emergence such as famine, drought, epidemics, etc. Thus, it is effective, efficient and transparent through news media as it flows in the form of logistical relief like food items, tents, etc, but not in money form. For example, the aid to Haiti is humanitarian aid that intends to make immediate results.
The second form of foreign aid is military aid. Military aid to developing countries has created wars, social unrest, corruption, and state terrorism. This kind of aid is sent by mostly western allies of recipient nations in third world. It flows in the form of either equipments like guns or money to purchase them. Most recipient nations of such aid tend to use it for aggressive attacks on their own citizens and their enemies, which increase political domination and totalitarian regimes. For example, Rwanda, Angola, Somalia, Sudan and Congo are among many recipient nations that experienced devastated impacts.
The last form of foreign aid is development aid. It is the most talked-about and controversial one compared to the other two. Development aid intends to improve livelihood of people in poor countries by eradicating absolute poverty through Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), building good governance through democratization, encouraging participatory initiatives through Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), preserving human rights by enforcing activism, establishing global partnership through solidarity and volunteerism, and eliminating inequality through fair redistribution of the scarce resources effectively and efficiently.
Indeed, there are unnecessary human suffering in third world countries that requires the attention and assistance of rich nations. For example, Children’s lives could be saved with less than a dollar malaria treatment cost if aid money is well managed without corruption and allocation inefficiency. For instead, a total of more 20 billion dollars is being sent every year to Africa by official aid agencies around the world but millions of children in Africa have lost lives from a preventable and curable disease like malaria because the money intended for them are being misused and mismanaged by corrupt and incompetent leaders. Development aid to Africa would have made a difference if it was directed for intended purposes.
The United States (U.S) alone has spent more than 60 billion dollars in development aid to Africa within the past 45 years. Donor nations like U.S are kept pouring aid money without making pertinent changes to development policies on the ground although most of the annual development reports are showing more failure than success. One would wonder as to whether the donors are really walking to walk whenever they promise to alleviate poverty and increase economic growth by assisting poor countries.
It is obvious that the relationship between donors and recipients is not about sustainable development at all but it is all about business. Donor nations engage in providing aid money because they want to maintain their business relationship with the recipient nations so that they can exploit valuable natural resources. For example, the relationship between U.S and Sierra Leona is all about economic interests. The U.S gains more money by providing aid money to Sierra Leona where it explore and import diamonds.
Furthermore, development funds are given in the hands of corrupt ruling elites in poor countries who care about nothing other than their personal interests. Besides, the elites are members of well-off urban communities. Hence, they are not the legitimate people to request and receive aid money because they do not need help. Besides, they have little knowledge about the needs of poor rural population. For example, some aid money is requested to purchase trackers for agricultural development although the poor people do not even know how to drive truckers. They only use only simple tools such as hoes and Pagers for cultivating food crops for survival. Thus, they need to have the freedom to design and deliver development programs relevant to their issues.
Since most governments of poor countries are more centralized, the preliminary development goals should be decentralizing feudal power by organizing local communities to take charge and destiny of their localities. Decentralized government can make decision making process democratic and inclusive where marginalized groups and communities can have voice. Once this is successfully achieved, and then a participatory development can be instated so that everyone will have part to play.