10 Jan

Some critical reflections on development aid – Sara

Hello there!

Happy New Year!

I am having exams so I am going to keep it a bit short.

But “development aid” or “development corporation” is an area that interests me a lot and that I am sometimes worried about. Some weeks ago I attended a REALLY nice student’s conference where I met people from several African countries.

Before that day I already had some questions about Development aid. Do we do it in the right manner? Does it really have a good effect on the local people? Don’t we keep them dependent on financial aid from the North? And even: “Is it sometimes a new form of colonization?” The name already: “Who are we to think that we can ‘develop’ other people?”

Of course, not all ‘Development programs’ are the same, but that student’s conference confirmed some of my questions. What I remembered the most is that ‘Fair Trade’ is the best form of ‘development aid’.

Some quotes from that day that I would like to share with you.

“Development Aid is not going to end poverty”
“Every country is different, with different cultures and different values. You can’t judge everyone based on your own values”
“Stop suppressing African people by getting resources for very low costs and selling it, after processing, very expensively. Chocolat is a symbol for Belgium, but where does the cocoa come from? It’s not from Belgium. And the people who take care of the cocoa don’t get well payed for it. If people here are payed 2000 euros each month and we pay African producers 100 euros each month, how can they develop, how can that be sustainable?”
“Africa is a very rich continent. Even when the Western world took a lot of their resources, they still have a lot. The problem is the governance”
“African countries don’t ask for any help. Western countries think – or say – they need help. But they can never survive on aid. They have to be independent. They have to change their mindset, by themselves, no longer being ‘obsequious’. The Western world can’t do much to it, but when their mindset has changed, the Western world has to be prepared to embrace it.”

And then a last quote to end with:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Take care!

Best regards,

Sara, 20 years old, Ghent, Belgium