Aid - Why do we Give Aid?

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 It is an important question. Godfery Bloom, the former UKIP MEP tried to raise debate on this issue rather in-eloquently but sadly his use of the generic description of unworthy aid recipients as 'Bongo Bongo Land' rather distracted from discussion he was seeking to have (at least that is the charitable view of his media gaff).

 The usual answer most people give if they are asked why we should give aid is that we have a moral duty to help people less fortunate than ourselves, a colleague of mine described it as the international version of buying the Big Issue. An informal survey during a class discussion  showed all bar 2 of the 30 or so there agreed with that way of thinking.

Some take a more self interested approach. Some will argue that the reason to give aid is one of self-interest. This may happen directly through 'tied aid'. The provision of aid may be directly linked to favorable trade deals for firms from the donor nation but it need not be so blatant. Aid may be given purely to improve infrastructure in areas that companies from the donor country operate or to build a customer base for future exports.

There is an alternative, however. Africa has globally important stocks of raw materials - precious metals, oil and gems yet the countries that have grown rich from exploiting these tend to be western countries. Could it just be possible that the reason Africa is poor is because we are rich. Aid spending may be developed nations giving generously or it could be wealthy nations trying to assuage their guilt.

The history of European and North American involvement in Africa is one of interference, slavery, colonialism and exploitation. Could it be that guilt, or even worse, further self gain through tied aid is the reason for the current focus on aid flows?

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