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Why Does Poverty Persist?: A Look At International Aid In Sub Saharan Africa

2053 words - 9 pages

In 2011, World Bank (2013) aided the amount equivalent to 54 US dollars per individual in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the question is if 910.4 million of people in sub-Saharan Africa have equally enjoyed its benefit. Despite the regional and international aid dedicated to eradicate poverty in the last 60 years, about 442 million, the half of population in sub-Saharan Africa, are still living on under 1.25 US dollars everyday (World Bank, 2013). Although the efficacy of international aid on poverty reduction has been questioned in a large number of public and academic discourses, many so called developed countries such as G8 are yet encouraged to provide more aid (Sachs, 2005) while less developed countries still rely on international aid as means to reduce poverty and achieve Millennium Development Goals (Glennie, 2008; Moyo, 2010). This does not seem to lead to the end nor the reduction of poverty. Instead, this essay argues that in order to achieve poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa, international aid needs to be reduced because it reinforces poverty, namely the power and economic disparities. I will first look at theoretical and historical backgrounds in relation to the development and international aid in sub-Saharan Africa and then examine the controversy which international aid generates to the local and international communities in terms of culture, sustainability, and politics. Finally, I will suggest an alternative way for sub-Saharan African communities’ development. While sub-Saharan Africa is culturally, socio-economically, and politically unique and diverse region, in this essay, I refer to Schuurman (1993)’s definition that inequality is what characterizes and holds them together.

Before discussing how international aid may not be effective in poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa, I will first briefly explore the history and political economy of development and international aid in Sub-Saharan Africa. UN defines development as an economic and social transformation towards “a higher standards of living” (http://www.un.org/en/development/other/overview.shtml). Even though what development means may vary over time and place, too often, development is realised based on the Western ideology and seen as a tool for modernising and civililsing process towards European Enlightenment (Crewe and Harrison, 1998; Moyo, 2009). Many anthropologists have attributed this trend as West’s reflection of the otherness in Africa: Western society has often looked Africa in opposition to themselves in terms of ethnicity, gender, and class, where those primitive marginalized poor live (Crewe and Harrison, 1998). It is in this context that current international development aid is discussed in this essay. Also, I will limit the discussion on concessional official development aid, which is non-emergency financial aid or grants transferred from government to government either directly or through multilateral aid agencies, such as World Bank. ...

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