This past weekend's WSJ had a great piece
written by an African woman, Dambisa Moyo
, with a unique view on foreign aid to Africa.
I really have no strong, well-formed personal opinion on the matter. Well, that's not exactly true-- I was happy
to see the WSJ somewhat affirm my gut feeling that Project Red
is sketchy at best and ineffective at worst. Even I, a faithful Goop
subscriber, can't pretend that this
wasn't one of the most misguided ad campaigns ever.
Anyway, the WSJ article is long and somewhat complicated. Though it's worth reading the whole thing, I've pasted what I think is the 'nut graf' (journo speak for the part that tells you in a nutshell what you need to know) here:Even what may appear as a benign intervention on the surface can have
damning consequences. Say there is a mosquito-net maker in small-town
Africa. Say he employs 10 people who together manufacture 500 nets a
week. Typically, these 10 employees support upward of 15 relatives
each. A Western government-inspired program generously supplies the
affected region with 100,000 free mosquito nets. This promptly puts the
mosquito net manufacturer out of business, and now his 10 employees can
no longer support their 150 dependents. In a couple of years, most of
the donated nets will be torn and useless, but now there is no mosquito
net maker to go to. They'll have to get more aid. And African
governments once again get to abdicate their responsibilities.