Aid and other dirty business

This thought has often struck me.. here, I’ll let the author of “Aid and other dirty business” Giles Bolton say it

For reasons of affordability rather than fashion, many if not most Africans now dress in cast-off Western clothing. Travelling round cities and countryside in Africa can be a surreal experience as you spot adults and children advertising obscure corporate conferences, dishwashing powder and stag weekends. (page 224)

It’s an engrossing book with a number of surprises about the AID business. I’ll give one example without spoiling the book entirely for any prospective reader..

America is the largest financier of food aid in Africa, for which it deserves huge credit…
…Yet starvation generally occurs not because there is an absence of food – traders can always buy it from other countries if there is demand – but because people can no longer grow or pay for it…
…Most American food aid, however, comes from America. Not only is it a lot more expensive, it’s an awfully long way away,…it take on average, five months to deliver…
…There are a number of winners from the American food-aid system. First are the few large agribusinesses allowed to bid for the contracts to provide several million tons of food aid each year…Then there are the US shipping firms who are guaranteed by law to get to transport at least 75 per cent of the food. This is rather a blessing for them as they’re not very competitive internationally, carrying only 3 per cent of America’s non-food-aid imports and exports. (page 204)

It carries on in this vein.

Very readable and highly enlightening, although I found the way he used anecdotes of his life in Africa to illustrate problems with the aid business rather poor.

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