The Fad of Humanitarian Aid

Celebrities & African Leaders at the World Economic Forum Source: World Economic Forum/Remy Steinegger

Recently in western culture, celebrities and humanitarian aid have seemed like a natural combination – many high profile stars have used aid to make themselves seen as a global force for good. Unfortunately, these “electric guitars”, or celebrities, have drowned out the voice of those who understand the true plight of these cultures. When Moyo spoke of these celebrities, it is quite apparent that she is frustrated at the fact that they are getting constant media attention. Drawing attention to those in need is a great and progressive idea, unfortunately it has become difficult to tell whether the impoverished people are the center of the fad, or if it is just focusing on the actions of some celebrities that are attempting to draw more attention to their own careers. Moyo, an educated and natural born African, wants to spread her message as much as she can but with celebrities such as Bono taking all of the spotlight of international humanitarian aid, she can’t compete. Additionally, these celebrities are trying to push more humanitarian financial aid into the impoverished countries that she is trying to help sustain themselves and her model of aid is directly opposite of theirs. Because of this, she feels that these countries will become more dependent on western aid, giving money to governments who aren’t stable. This adds to the corruption and instability of these governments and doesn’t allow them a chance to sustain themselves for a long term effort. Moyo adds that the whole story of these regions isn’t being told by these mainstream celebrities and people are getting flawed facts about how to give aid. Approaching humanitarian intervention in this way is simply adding more dependence on foreign money.

Source: Mother Jones

These impoverished lands have many reasons to why they remain in their current state, whether it is corruption, lack of resources, or geological reasons. While monetary aid to these lands seems to be a logical answer poverty, it doesn’t change their aforementioned problems and in some cases even adds more issues. The governments of these lands are constantly taking in more foreign finances and it keeps the corruption and instability alive. Moyo argues that if they were given chances to make real changes and push towards self-sustainability, it would make a much bigger difference in the future. While Moyo’s motive is clear, it isn’t obvious what her true plan of action is. Without the ability to sustain themselves, these cultures may have even more issues with poverty if aid isn’t given. Before we can cut off the finances that are being given, these governments must have a real idea on how to progress without it. The overlying issues that Moyo discusses, such as being a landlocked or having an arid climate, aren’t the only problems these lands face. Many other countries face these same issues and prosper regardless. There must be other reasons that are contributing to their current state and before we can change the approach to aid, we must first isolate and fix these issues.

While it is true that aid is perhaps causing more issues in these developing countries, one must imagine the case if aid was never given. They have shown that alone they cannot sustain themselves but with aid – more problems arise. We must find a middle ground between supporting corruption with western money and leaving these countries to regress by themselves. Many experts feel that a complete removal of aid would be devastating – but just as Moyo has no answers to how to help without aid, they have no answers on how to mix both approaches together to see success. We must study the effects of aid, the possibilities of sustainability, and find a complete plan for the future of poverty.

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