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The need to push for more international aid


In response to "Biting hunger drives rural women away from adult education class" by mamaAfrica:

I strongly continue to believe that the only solution for countries that lack internal solutions and resources to address these urgent needs is international aid, despite heated debate on whether it is a viable solution or not. I am concerned about how international aid will flow to distressed countries in the shadow of global economic crisis.

For instance, the commitment made under the 1970 United Nations target for aid of 0.7% of rich-country GDP remains a distant dream (OECD report) since only Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have reached this target. Today, the average contribution is 0.45% of GDP. This is very pessimistic news since poor countries, such as Kenya, are already affected by a combination of slowing growth, high poverty, and little fiscal firepower to put new programmes of social assistance in place, or to beef up existing ones. This has led some to argue that foreign aid could play a role in filling this gap by contributing to the creation of social safety nets, or temporary transfer programmes to protect the developing world's poor (The Economist).

Like it or not this is the state of international political commitment. While there is already in place an agreed upon framework under which developed countries must pool together their resources, the 1970 United Nations target aid, reinforced by the Millennium Developed Program, there is still weak coordination and agreement among the world leaders on which should be the institutional set up to gather these resources. For instance, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, has proposed the creation of a “vulnerability fund” for developing countries, a collective pot into which rich countries would put 0.7% of their stimulus packages, the same percentage agreed under the UN auspices, which according to the famous economist Jeffrey Sachs, will contribute to eradicating extreme poverty by 2050. I think that these dispersed “vulnerability funds” created under different international authorities are deemed to achieve nothing. Why not create a centralized scheme, or stick to current UN fund, which has the credibility, and genuine mission to lift poor people from poverty? This will create a more comprehensive and transparent picture on how each country, signatory of the MDGs, contributes to the achievement of global goals, such as halving poverty by 2050.

I do believe in the power of grassroots initiatives, in the development that comes from within, but they have more chances to flourish when there is already a viable base in place, when the basic needs are satisfied and a “packet of maize” is assured.


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