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Millenium Development Goal #1 will fail in Africa!

Africa, despite abundant human resources and natural wealth, is the poorest continent on Earth. While some countries try to put themselves on the path of development, others are still struggling to be self-sufficient. But thanks to the loving hearts of donors from developed countries, humanitarian aid does flow our way. Unfortunately, the flow often stops in the hands of our leaders.

The first Millennium Development Goal, to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, will surely fail if Africa’s political leaders continue to waste aid on military aims and luxurious lifestyles.

Aid to Africa has quadrupled from around US$11 billion to US$44 billion from 2005-2008 alone. In some countries like Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Somalia, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Sierra Leone over 70 percent of total government spending came from foreign aid between 1970 and 2002, according to figures from the World Bank. Aid helps save lives, protects rights and builds livelihoods, but infantile deaths, violation of human rights, lack of basic needs, unemployment and poor living conditions is what we continue to witness in our countries. Africa’s problem is her political leaders. Not only do they sneakily move aid around to benefit their interests, but what should go to feeding our people instead entertains short-term military goals, only feeding a climate of conflict.

In December 2010, Rizza Leonzon, the staff writer at Devex in charge of preparing the Development Newswire, reported that, “The World Bank has stopped lending and disbursing development aid to Cote d’Ivoire following the country’s disputed presidential polls.”

Foreign aid was already steeply reduced between 1998 and 1999 following corruption, mismanagement and the first coup on December 24, 1999. Aid began to return around 2001 and was increased for the last election. But what has the aid asked for by Ivorian Foreign Minister Jean-Maria Kacou Gervais at the UN—“for support from the international community”—served for? And for whom will his appeal “to increase its contribution… for Côte d’Ivoire’s emergency” benefit? Already 305 million euro has been wasted on an election that remains contested and has only plunged us into deeper conflict.

As conflict, instead of development, is nurtured in my country, aid workers become frightened, resulting in under-delivery, misuse and waist of medical, food and financial aid.
Germany has made 500,000 euro available to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UNHCR to provide emergency aid for those fleeing their homes in Côte d’Ivoire. But this money that could have served development projects will instead be used for blankets, kitchen utensils and emergency accommodation as well as to provide access to clean drinking water and basic medical care. This is especially needed for women and children, as they die from the consequences of conflict rather than in the fighting itself, but imagine if this aid could be used for long-term growth projects in a country free of conflict. After 10, 40, 100 years of conflict, development will still be waiting. More money will be needed to get out of this mess, but what will be left to rebuild and restore our country and our lives?
I have realized that most aid during conflicts comes “free,” but what all Africans must know is that most development aid from the World Bank and other global institutions are “loans.” Africans are being helped, but only if they agree to be indebted. Do we have a choice? Even after the very aggressive debt-relief campaigns in the 1990s, African countries still pay close to US$20 billion in debt repayments per annum. What hurts the most, though, is that these loans were not all used to lift up our countrymen and women, but instead were wasted on conflicts and luxurious lifestyles. While our leaders’ children and families are in Europe and America, attending the best schools in the world, we are not even getting transportation to reach our old and overcrowded campuses. Instead of creating job opportunities, they just manufacture more ministerial posts, another way of justifying the need for more aid. All at the expense of the people.

But Africans can decide to change their destiny. We choose our leaders, so we must tell them what we need. I believe Egypt is a sign to let our leaders know that they govern, but do not possess our countries. We can decide to properly manage our properties by stopping bribery. Each person needs to value work and refuse to pay anything that does not go into the country’s treasures. We also need to call for strict international rules ensuring humanitarian aid targets the poorest and most vulnerable. This will be possible through education. We need education on positive thinking, capacity reinforcement, behavior and social change.

I know Africa has a long way to go, but it is not an impossible task if individually we conjointly set our priorities and work towards them one by one.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.


Sarvina's picture

Hi sister Harmony!

Hi sister Harmony!

Congratulations for your final piece! Beautiful writing...:)




Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

AchiengNas's picture

Our Leaders

Our leaders are the over 50s who do not like the word "change", they believe in the OLD ways of leadership ----sticking there forever...
Many public service offices in Uganda are full of the oldies; some fear computers, others don't like internet, and the majority believe in paperwork, pen and paper. How do we expect innovations here??

The funds and donations from the developed world usually go to their businesses; the estates, cars, and big money-rich bellies. Ask for accountability, the "paper work" will be missing.

Go on talk to our leaders...

AND thank you for this article!



I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

HARMONY's picture

Hi Beatrice

Our leaders are ... I don't even understand why we call them leaders? Because I don't see the example they are giving the next generations!

As if it is a curse to be an African Leader. All they know is begging for money and as you said when it is time to account the Papers disappear or the office burn for faulty AC or anything they can imagine to explain.

But we are coming with the only one word we know: CHANGE and INOVATION.

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

vivian's picture

I read your piece again and

I read your piece again and again and each time I read it, I appreciate it again and again. It could have been titled wasted aids. I love this line 'Africa’s problem is her political leader'

African countries are highly indebted to world bank due to mismanagement of her leaders and greed. Nigeria is not an exception, we are also indebted to world bank.

My sister, I love ur piece and you have picked it up from a good angle. It is a nice op-ed piece. Thank you for sharing your thought as regard the 1st MDG which will not achieved if the old process continue. Other African country should arise like the Egyptians did to their leaders so a change can take place

Well done.


''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

HARMONY's picture

Hi Vivian!

Indeed It could have been titled waisted aids, the fact is that all this aids are to help us achieve the millenium goals but when if all it takes is debt for one group of people and their families and friends.

May be we should petition for aid to stop coming and we will see if it can change something.

What we can do is to keep on speaking and working where we are.

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

Pat's picture

nice work!

Harmony, you have taken on a big subject and I appreciate your committment to the subject, it's not an easy one to take on.


HARMONY's picture

Thanks Pat!

So happy to read your comment this morning!

I was able to do it with your encouragement and advices. Thank a lot!

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

Vera Salter's picture

You are so powerful

Dear Harmony,
I admire your courage and optimism in the face of the terrible situation in your country. You have stated the problem so well. Do keep your determination to change your destiny.

HARMONY's picture

Thanks Vera. I can only armed

Thanks Vera.

I can only armed myself with courage and determination because what is happening and how people are painting things is painful and disturbing. But I will keep on writing and acting as I can to bring change. We need it!

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

Vera Salter's picture

Vera Salter

Continue to trust your hopes and dreams! You will bring change.

A general concer to all, Harmony, are we all been armed! one question that keeps coming to me, where did the women and kids go wrong in Ivory Coast ( Abidjan). It is sad and so unfair that only in Africa we take our people for granted! therefor we will have lot's off exploitation!

This my new email address
note that freddygibs is no longer my email address as it was hacked,

HARMONY's picture

Hi maima, You I believe

Hi maima,

You I believe democracy is not for Africa! Remember the old time after the king or chief has spoken, no discussion.

Then we did not have fights and rebellion and contest or protest. It was respect of elderly, it was harmony and forgivness by force, it was solidarity, peace, love. They were a family.

May be Africa needs Tyranny + developement to make our society work!

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

rmweaver's picture

I can see your passion!

Hello Harmony!

Thank you for posting your piece. You show great passion for what is a heartbreaking and infuriating issue. I was especially struck by your comment, "As conflict, instead of development, is nurtured in my country, aid workers become frightened, resulting in under-delivery, misuse and waist of medical, food and financial aid." This shows how the situation builds upon itself, making a turnaround even more difficult.

But I have faith in the future, especially when I hear from women such as yourself! You are the future and I believe in your passion and your abilities.

All the best to you,

HARMONY's picture

Hi Rmweaver

The Situation becomes more difficult each day and you are likely to loose hope! But we have to hold the flame and keep faith. faith that tomorrow will be brighter.

Thanks for your encouragement!

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

mrbeckbeck's picture

Powerful position!


You've done it again! You have such a powerful written voice. I love your ability to clearly tell us your position, back it up with quotes and data-- and then leave us with a call to action!

I hope you are right-- that the events in Egypt are a wake up call, showing that leaders "govern, but do not possess" the countries they are SUPPOSED to lead. All over the world democracy is being hi-jacked by corporate interests and greedy politicians... but, people are rising up and demanding more accountability. It's not too late!

Wishing you all the best my dear... these are trying times, but we'll keep our heads up!

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Volunteer

HARMONY's picture

Thank you Scott, When you are

Thank you Scott,

When you are squeezed, oppressed to the extreme you can only react and give all you have for your freedom. And Africans are getting there slowly. If they can not lead, we will lead our SUPPOSED leaders.

I wish I could meet the person who brought the word Democracy in this world and ask him what he had in mind. May be we did not get him right!

Thanks for your encouragement!

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

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