i was discussing africa the other night with someone
we had some friends over that were passing through town...one of them was staying with one of her friends, who i hadn't met before...she was the head of the china desk at military policy - relatively high level civilian public servant, travels with the minister, that kind of thing
the conversation got to africa, and i opined that the continent was low on our radar scopes because they didn't have oil or much else we could abuse, and that we don't get excited about problems there unless the media decides to take an interest (see somalia)...this lady started into "we pump so much money there with no results; why bother anymore?"
now i know a little bit about aid levels and the conditions we attach to them...first, our aid (canada's) isn't that high there, relatively speaking...secondly, a lot of our aid is indirect aid, vice direct aid, which means the monies must be spent on canadian goods and services...thirdly, i know a bit about how aid is delivered and how political the process is...the backdoor handshaking and deals that gets cut between canadian foreign aid workers and african elite...lastly, i know how difficult the process is - the process of giving aid money to a developing country and trying to make sure it doesn't get spent in the wrong directions
so basically, i knew she was wrong - the lower aid levels are fact but the reasons are often good...but if aid would shift from money-oriented aid to skills-oriented aid...teach a man to fish and all that...that would be a good thing...the problem is that many of the elite won't accept the helpful aid without the cash aid alongside
the folks in our DFAIT (foreign affairs & trade) and CIDA (cdn int'l development and aid) have short shelf lifes because of the difficulties in delivering the right aid in africa...they soon become disillusioned and become fatcat bureaucrats - like this lady i met...it is a difficult situation for many reasons