It is estimated that “more than US$ 2 trillions of foreign aid has been transferred to the poor, over the past fifty years” (Moyo D, 2009). Fifty years of massive aid but the recipients are still living in miserable life of severe poverty!! What did such huge amount do, for whom? when and where? It is very unfortunate that, poverty level has been and is still increasing among most aid beneficiaries, more so in Africa.
However, aid has become a beautiful song in most of the political arenas both in developing and developed countries, aid seekers and donors. While donors claim to maintain good diplomatic relationship with poor countries like Tanzania through aid, the aid seeker use it to gain political popularity by arguing that if they are elected they will seek for development aid to assist in poverty alleviation among their people. The most prominent advocates of aid are rich, top politicians, whose salaries come directly from the sweat of majority poor tax payers.
Where does the aid money come from? It is again from the sweat of majority poor tax payers in donor countries. The biggest political claim as to why donors should donate money to poor nations is the need to assist to alleviate poverty. However it has been proved already that the reason as to why many countries of Africa, with vast wealth of natural resources (minerals, forests, wildlife and fisheries among others) are poor is not lack of financial capital. Tanzanian’s poverty for example has been directly linked with lack of efficient government regulation (NPES 1997).
There is no solid framework for legal and social infrastructures, where as the systems of accountability, transparency, and responsiveness in the government are relatively weak, thus, it is not realistic for the government to be able to execute its policies effectively. A major strand in the poor regulation by the Tanzanian government is corruption. All these undermine any effort (if any) to create conditions suitable for poverty eradication and sustainable development. The government is not able to allocate resources efficiently, since it does not act on the immediate needs that are apparent from the private sector, and on the provision of public goods such as healthcare and transport (Gumbo 2007).
What then qualifies such country like Tanzania for aid? To what extent can aid donors and recipients’ governments prove the success of the aid policies in the past years? The reality is that, politicians of developing and most developed countries are enjoying the taxes they collect from their people. What is frustrating in poor countries is that politicians are misusing the tax they collect from their poor majority and extend that behavior to misuse the aid they get, from the pockets of majority in developed countries.
It is therefore true that aid “interferes with development as the money end up in the hand of the few chosen, making it a form of taxing poor in the West to enrich the few elites in the former colonies” (Moyo D, 2009). While donors know this they keep on donating!!! Why? Dambisa Moyo, 2009 went further and addressed aid as a “silent killer” of economic growth in what she called “vicious cycle of aid”. Foreign aid fosters corruption by providing corrupt governments with free cash. These corrupt governments weaken the civil institutions, civil liberties (perhaps including the freedom of YETs 2010 and their host CSOs) and thus making investments unattractive, which causes unemployment and increase poverty level (Moyo D, 2009).
If donors know for sure that aid is not working properly and it increases poverty contrary to their aims, yet they sustain their donation behavior, there must be other reasons than that of poverty reduction assistances. According to Dambisa Moyo, 2009, one of the reasons is that there is always “pressure to lend”. There are about 500,000 people, equivalent to the population of Swaziland, in World Bank, IMF, NGOs (including WWF), private charities, UN agencies and the army of government aid agencies most of them from developed countries all employed to work in aid businesses (grants and loans). Their livelihoods depend entirely on aid (Moyo D, 2009). Donor governments then fear on employments of their people. If they stop donating those employees will lose their jobs, and definitely they will start boycotts and mass demonstrations and weaken the political standing of politicians in their governments and shake the sustainability of their jobs too. However, being employed by aid which is not working as planned, and which increase poverty, it means you’re not working properly and that you are contributing to increase in poverty.
This is to say all donors, employees in aid businesses and governments in the aid recipient countries have contributed (and are still contributing) to the increasing poverty level (vicious cycle of aid) among African countries. Furthermore, there are many highly exploitative big companies and private persons from donor countries with multibillion USD investments in poor countries especially in natural resource rich areas, were the surrounding communities have been and are being devastated by pollution from the projects and severe poverty (Geita Gold mine, North Mara and Loliondo Scams to mention few in Tanzania), due to lack of effective benefit sharing mechanisms. This may has pressured the donors to foster the sustained but failed aid policies!!!
Therefore, those who are directly and indirectly benefiting from aid (top politicians from donors countries, employees in aid businesses and top politicians in recipient countries) are the ones who want and advocate aid but not majority poor tax payers from donors’ countries, or majority poor recipients targeted. What can then CSO's in Tanzania and YETs 2010 (who are direct beneficiaries of aid from Norway’s tax payers through WWF) do, to fight against “vicious cycle” of the “dead aid” and thus alleviate poverty in their country? Can WWF assist to alleviate poverty or nature conservation in the same pool of “vicious cycle of aid”?
Definitely there might be some very few cases where aid works, but those challenges should never be overlooked. All in all we should never give up and work towards want we want to do for our people !