Remember accountability

Published December 1, 2005

Dear editor,

Re: Religious leaders vow to help end global poverty (October Journal).

“You always have the poor with you.” John 12:8. The aim of reducing extreme world poverty by one half by the year 2015, while a noble and worthy objective, is clearly pie in the sky. It is simply not going to happen and raising expectations that it can be achieved is naive at best, or disingenuous at worst.

The billions of dollars in foreign aid that have been poured into African countries over the past four decades have produced little in the way of overall improvement in the standard of living for the poor of these nations. Well-intentioned and dedicated aid workers have made many local improvements. However, the culture of most of these countries where the civil servants and politicians do not have to answer to the people, prevent a great deal of the foreign aid money, food and drugs from having the desired affect. Little aid reaches the poor. In some cases as much as 70 per cent of drug shipments have been siphoned off into the black market by corrupt civil servants and politicians.

Increasing our governments foreign aid budget to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product, while a worthwhile objective, should really require an improvement in the area of accountability by the receiving nations and an effort towards democratic rule. Improving the lifestyle of corrupt rulers, like treating Zimbabwes Robert Mugabe to a bigger private jet, is not an effective use of our tax dollars.

Joe Darlington



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