Monday, February 3, 2014

Feeding The hippos

The article reminded me of another TED talk I listened to recently about foreign aid. He started by describing the aid program he had been involved in located in Northern Africa. The village that they were helping was located in the river valley and as such, had very rich land for growing crops. So his group set about teaching the villagers how to grow crops because they had no crops. They encountered two problems,the first was the people didn't want to grow crops. However this was easily overcome by paying the villagers to grow the crops. The second was a little less  obvious. At the end of the growing season all the crops were ripe and ready to be harvested when, overnight, a herd of hippos came up out of the river and ate all the crops.
After looking at some of the projects that are going on for foreign aid I view his project as successful, because at least he fed the hippos!

As mentioned in the article, most of the foreign aid that has been given to Africa and other underdeveloped countries is pointless and misused. I think that rather than giving large sums of money to governments to "help" save  Africa, people who are really concerned about the welfare of underdeveloped countries should focus on individuals. When individuals are given some form of aid in starting a business or managing their farm they have personal incentives to make "good" use of that money especially if there is some sort of accountability attached to its use. Being said one of the best things we could probably do for underdeveloped countries is to leave them alone and let them develop themselves. unless the way foreign aid is handled changes we will end up inevitably, merely continuing to feed the hippos .

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