Charities – we should not give aid to Africa

When we were in Africa a few years ago, a local chap suddenly rounded on me while I was chatting about charities like Oxfam and Water Aid. I am not part of those charities, I was just chatting in a general sort of way. The man exclaimed something along the lines of: “I wish you British charities would leave us alone! Until our governments are forced in to a situation where they must look after their own people, they never will. The government knows that aid will come pouring in throughout the year, so it does nothing ….”

I have given this a lot of thought since, and I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking up facts and figures. And I have come to the following conclusion: if charities, especially the really big ones, spent the same amount of money on lobbying the governments of third-world countries, many of those governments would be forced – perhaps even shamed – in to looking after their own people. India seems to be the great example that all figures point to – India is home to many fantastically wealthy people and is likewise home to many extremely influential people. Re-organized and – quite simply – SHAMED – they are perfectly capable of caring for their own. There are plenty (goodness – hundreds of thousands!) of educated people in India, in and out of government, who could change things. And I suspect many of them are working in that direction. THEY are where the solution to suffering and poverty lies. Not us. Not the likes of you and me. Bob Geldof is perhaps a classic example – he brought our attention to the plight of the poor of Ethiopia – yet nothing has changed. We all leapt forward with money for food and medicines – but nothing, thirty years later, has changed.

It is strange that peace-keeping forces move in to countries where there is physical fighting; yet there is no peace in starvation, pain and disease either. We’ve got something terribly wrong somewhere down the line. I, for one, will not give to charities abroad any more: there are so many charities at home needing my support.

Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites.  Her sketches are on her web site .  Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.

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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.

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Posted on 25/04/2012 by Catherine
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