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The Forum > Article Comments > Rockers deaf to aid realities > Comments

Rockers deaf to aid realities : Comments

By Helen Hughes, published 1/7/2005

Helen Hughes argues international NGOs, led by Geldof, are facilitating yet another betrayal of Africa.

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I remember Bob Geldof's effort well: it probably impacted on me more than anyone else in Australia!

Horrified by the dreadful African famine, I gave up my comfy job as a television newsman with the ABC to head up a tiny NGO housed above a shoe store in Dandenong, Victoria - Action AIDS Australia.

My idea was to get the Australian government to donate its unwanted and unsaleable hercules aircraft to ferry famine relief.Nationwide, pilots rushed to offer their help to fly them.

The Hawke government donated two Hercules and spent millions refurbishing them.But instead of letting us fly them the job was contracted to commercial operators despite my warning they'd become flying cash registers.

I wasn't even invited to wave 'em goodbye. I was in disgrace for being a critic!

Now retired, I head up my own non profit charity, The Australian AIDS Fund Incorporated, based in Melbourne.

Please visit us at www.aids.net.au

Once again, I'd been moved by pity over the appalling way Australia had treated a NSW pre-schooler, Eve van Grafhorst, the first Australian child to be HIV infected via a blood transfusion.

She and her family virtually hounded out of Oz, given sanctuary in New Zealand where she died as an 11 year old.

Now,I have just finished funding the building of a combined primary/secondary school that'll care for some 300 AIDS orphans and other impoverished children in Malawi, Africa.Story and photos are on the website.

Now I need ten thousand dollars to equip the school and buy the books the kids and their teachers need. Would you help me help?

Brian Haill

President,
The Australian AIDS Fund Incorporated,
PO Box 1347, Frankston, Victoria, 3199
Ph (03) 9 770 9210
Email: bhaill@bigpond.net.au
Posted by Sydney, Friday, 1 July 2005 12:31:27 PM
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A betrayal of Africa is indeed happening. As you rightly mention, the corruption of some African leaders as well as the hypocricy of Western governments in donating aid but simultaneouly maintaining trade barriers which hurt poor nations' growth opportunities is appaling and costs the lives of many. But to argue against the donations of aid per se, or against the efforts by some, like Geldorf, to raise awareness of world poverty, does not bring about a solution. Rather, it should be a discussion about better ways to distribute, and invest, the millions of dollars so many of the rich world's population are generous enough to give. It should be a discussion about the deficiencies of development economics as practiced by the IMF and the World Bank. It should be a discussion about ways to encourage pharmaceutical companies to research malaria. It should be a discussion about how international companies involved in mining in Africa could behave more ethical. Your data on the inverse relationship of aid and growth may be correct, but what would the growth rates look like without aid? How much higher might the death toll be?
Posted by Meg, Friday, 1 July 2005 2:31:20 PM
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Meg
The point of the inverse relationship between growth and aid is not just the obvious one that countries that get aid are poor; itís the counter-intuitive one that poor countries are worse off with aid than without it.

This is well-documented, but the reasons are the subject of debate. Some emphasise political factors (its easier for corrupt kleptocracies to stay in power when their social problems are ameliorated by donations) some institutional (over-regulation and lack of property rights). Aid may reduce domestic political and economic pressure to reform.

A recent IMF working paper suggests that the effect of aid is to raise the exchange rate and therefore undermine the competitiveness of the export and manufacturing industries, which have proven the surest route to development in very poor countries, leading to slower economic growth. This makes intuitive economic sense and is politically more palatable than other explanations that seem to blame the victim.
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.cfm?sk=18380.0

I agree that Geldof has been effective in raising awareness of this issue, and that it is important for the west to address poverty. The key question is how. The academic research suggests strongly that the more aid/less debt route is far less effective than the more trade/less protectionism and regulation route. All may have a part to play, but throwing money at failed states, or forgiving their debts, is at least as likely to make things worse as make them better.
Posted by Rhian, Friday, 1 July 2005 3:43:01 PM
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I agree with much of what Rhian has written.

The biggest problem Africa faces is the absence of democratic processes (despite - at least for the ex UK colonies - them being handed a complete set when they acquired nationhood) and the adoption of a tribal based preference system. Mugabe is but one of the despots who use such divisions to retain a corrupt hold on power. -

I was in Salisbury (now Harare) in 1980 - one week after Mugabe came to power - He inherited a wealthy and prosperous economy which, whilst managed by whites was benefitting blacks - now he presides over a charnel house of misery in which the whites have been forced to flee and the blacks starve or die from the diseases he has imposed upon them. Given the opportunity of hindesight - Rhodesia, for one was better off as a colony and so most other ex-colonies and protectorates - unless anyone here wants to mention the benefits of brought by Amin, Mubuto or any of the other tyrants and despots who crawl out from under stones whenever they get a chance - I find it strange that, say, Australia, Canada and New Zealand appear to have all managed to grow and flourish and resist the misery of tyrants, while so many other ex-colonies have, as far as the general population is concerned, failed and fallen into an abyss.
Posted by Col Rouge, Sunday, 3 July 2005 5:29:35 PM
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By the year 1900, European ownership and control by region was Africa 90.4%,Polynesia 98.9%, Asia 56.5%,Australia 100.0% ,Americas 27.2% .

Are you asking why the colonised have not been able to re-develop what they lost - in just over 100 years?

Or are you asking why those who have not been able to decolonise appear to be better off? (which they ain't)
Posted by Rainier, Sunday, 3 July 2005 5:59:42 PM
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In other circles it could be said that not all the worlds environments and atmospheric issues could sustain everyone becoming industrialised.

Currently there is a sustainable amount of countries moving to the next phase of being a developed country. Which requires a sustainable amount of energy for its industrialisation.

Energy cost money and with more competitors on the market, the more the price for the demand. It is a cruel method of survival.

We also must look at the Foods that are deliberately dumped so that the market is not glutted with the produce that drives the price down. To sustain the value of a product, food is left to rot.

Why is this food not shipped to where it could be needed to feed the starving?

I understand what the writer above is attempting to say. That 100 years is not along time in the evolution of a society.

The problem is that Africa cannot afford to make mistakes in choosing its leaders now it has its freedom. Time is of the essence.

Without breaking ground with regards to sex education and birth control we are seeing epidemics of Starvation and AIDS.

The only consolation to man could be the African establishing an immunity to disease.

For the generations of Africans who have died and mutated their genes, so will the antibodies pharmecutical company may find?
Posted by suebdoo2, Monday, 4 July 2005 12:07:00 AM
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