America Must Provide Aid to Poor Countries
Eliam Diamond lives on the shores of Lake Malawi. Diamond is a weaver, making mats out of dried palm leaves. A six-foot sleeping mat takes him four days to make and sells for as little as four cents, not enough to buy what little food there is in Malawi. So he relies on handouts. A few days ago, Diamond picked up his monthly ration of donated U.S. corn from the World Food Programme (WFP) at the Ngodzi distribution center near his village, carrying home the 110-pound bags tied to his bicycle (Harman).
Malawi is one of six southern African countries - along with Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Swaziland - in which 14.5 million people face severe food shortages. The spread of famine on the entire African continent now threatens well over 30 million people and is overwhelming the capacity of relief agencies to address the problem. Floods last year followed by poor rains across the region caused two successive years of poor harvests. Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Jacques Diouf expresses the tragedy that this situation could be reversible: "Wed on not have the excuse that we cannot grow enough or that we do not know enough about how to eliminate hunger." He notes that a public investment of $24 billion a year - less than ten percents of what developed economies spend on agricultural subsides per year - would be sufficient to "jump start" a campaign against hunger (Cason).
The increasing rates of poverty in Africa, south Asia, and Eastern Europe, and the fact that we could indeed give more to the poor "without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance" (229) signify to me that we do have a moral obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves. It is unfair that 80 percent of global GDP of $30 trillion accrues to only 20 percent of the world's population and the remaining 80 percent of the people only have a 20 percent share of world income.
Although it is unrealistic to expect that Singer's proposition, that we give ten percent of our annual income to aid the poor, will be implemented in full, I do believe that American citizens, particularly the considerably wealthy Americans, should contribute more to poverty efforts. Although I do not have a round sum in mind that all citizens in America should contribute to the poor, I do believe that everyone should at least give something. In addition to Singer's stress on individual giving, I think it is necessary to examine related issues such as increasing Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), increasing market access for developing countries, promoting good governance, and encouraging debt relief in the poorest countries.
According to the State of the World's Children 2001, a child born today in the developing world has a 4 out of 10 chance of living in...