famine-largeThe drought in East Africa is the worst the region has seen in more than 60 years. Tens of thousands of people have died due to the resulting famine and millions more are suffering malnutrition and threats to their livelihoods. Despite this, the Horn of Africa has found itself squeezed from the headlines in recent weeks – with the US and Europe distracted by the threat of impending financial meltdown, extremist bombings and shootings in Norway, the continuing civil war in Libya, government crackdowns in Syria and, on top of all that, the death of Amy Winehouse.

Famines on such a scale are, thankfully, rare. Few would argue that governments and citizens shouldn’t be stumping up the cash to help those in need right now. Yet, with public sectors across the continent suffering harsh cuts and people losing their jobs, can Europeans afford to keep spending money on overseas aid except in extreme circumstances? We had a comment sent to us by Jamang, who suggested:

Europeans cannot afford to ‘ringfence’ aid and should cut overseas aid budgets – especially to countries like India and China that do not need (so much) aid.

We spoke to Paul Collier, Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford and author of The Bottom Billion, and asked him if European economies could afford to ring-fence aid budgets in an age of austerity:

Well, of course the British have done just that. The British have got a more ferocious squeeze on public spending than most other countries of Europe and they have ring-fenced overseas aid. That shows it’s politically possible.

But, let’s be realistic, at a time of fiscal austerity aid budgets are likely to get squeezed. That doesn’t mean that development needs to get less effective, however. There’s so much more that Europe can do to help the poorest countries than just aid. And so now is the time to do the things that don’t cost money but are effective. This means looking at trade policy, looking at governance, rules and standards – these things don’t cost money, but they can be very effective. So, at a minimum, if we have to squeeze on aid budgets, let’s do the other stuff.

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6 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar

    Sentence like “dosen’t cost money” are without sense.
    MONEY hasn’t any cost because is done of paper and ink !
    Do you feel we don’t have food on planet Heart ?
    We are full of foods and goods , the only missing things are the money to buy them.
    Print money and gave free to the people !
    Fighting african hungry begin first from money distribution. Let them buy the food ! don’t make lousy begging

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Again, printing money and distributing it freely would cause hyperinflation. The value of money would decrease to the point where it was no longer even worth the paper it was printed on.

    • avatar

      …. and again i said :
      ECB hasn’t right to emit and lend money because is the people to give te values to EURO not the central bank.
      Concerning inflaction i said : is the values of a man decrease if will born million of others ? No it’s always the same ! so why for money should be different ?
      Of course there is a limit in the production of new money : this limit happen when the costs of goods on the markets are becaming near to the production costs of the goods.
      In this moment State has to stop to emit new money. This is the way to control inflaction

  2. avatar
    peter schellinck

    This subject has been haunting us for decades and every now and then we open up the debate, make some loud noises and then peal away after having agreed on donations and aid, even a millennium goal. We need to do more and differently, as so far aid has failed. We need to act according to our own governance and go beyond satisfying our conscience. Trade, education, development and not aid! With all the unemployed skilled and even unskilled labour we could allow SME’s to get organised and travel (reverse migration) down to the area’s concerned. They can help to develope trade locally and create local pockets of relevant businesses to allow local citizen, through education – coaching and micro grants, to engage in developing their own area, starting with food and water security. The EU can use the aid/donation budget to help finance the EU SME’s on this mission. Is this colonialism coming back? No, it’s learning from the past and rather industrial governance.

  3. avatar

    1. I think we have a historic responsibility to help developing countries because of the exploitation during the period of colonization.

    2. I think we as human beeings have a responsibility to help those in need.

    3. Compared to our whole budget it’s really not much that we spend to help those countries. There are surely other areas where we could save some money in “bad times”.

    Of course we should discuss the methods we use to help developing countries because what we did in the past obviously didn’t work very good. Furthermore we could discuss which countries really need our help (e. g. I think China does really not need aid anymore).

    But simply cutting the general aid budget is not the right way. Personally I would even pay something like an “Aid Tax”. After all Europe is still wealthy compared to most developing countries even in times of financial crisis.

  4. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I still remember the same issue being discussed since when i was a boy back in the ’80s…honestly…When aid that is being given does not help, rather creates more dependency, then something we are doing wrong..perhaps it is time to just allow them be, and stop meddling with their affairs?

    it is not the droughts that ravaging Africa, it is institutions like the IMF that have burden them with heavy loans (just like Greece now) and do not allow them to prosper..simply because Africa is so rich and some want these riches for nothing…and they get them by making those African countries “owe” them somehow..

    the best thing Europe and the West could do, is step out, stop or scrap the IMF institution, delete all debts, and allow Africa blossom on its own..They need development not more money to owe…!! they can do it, if they can exploit their resources by themselves, and not have them stolen by multinationals…

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