Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The principle aim of this paper is to discuss the concept of Aid pointing out its positives and negative ramifications. It will attempt to explore the unintended consequence of an action, decision, or judgment that may complicate a situation or make the desired result more difficult to achieve as a result of aid. However, this paper will discuss aid from the different angles in which the term aid can be discussed.
The concept aid refers to a resource or visual aid used in teaching like maps, books, board, marker chalk and others. The advantages of aid as a resource is that it helps the teacher or learning facilitator to present the material in a concise and clear manner for learners to understand. It helps learners to grasp the concepts and subject matter faster than just theory. The disadvantage of aid as a teaching resource is that it make teachers less active in constructing explanations for a particular entity with an aid. Aid can also be looked at as the activity of contributing to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose; "he gave me an assist with the housework"; "could not walk without assistance"; "rescue party went to their aid".
The concept of aid is also perceived as monetory or any other assistance given from one country, continent or nation to another. Aid in this context is also known as international aid, overseas aid, or foreign aid referring to a voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another, given at least partly with the objective of benefiting the recipient country. It may have other functions as well: it may be given as a signal of diplomatic approval, or to strengthen a military ally, to reward a government for behaviour desired by the donor, to extend the donor's cultural influence, to provide infrastructure needed by the donor for resource extraction from the recipient country, or to gain other kinds of commercial access. Humanitarianism and altruism are, nevertheless, significant motivations for the giving of aid. In line with this train of thought, the capability approach promotes the development of giving aid with an aim towards improving each individual's freedoms to develop capabilities, (Håkan, 2000).
The concept of aid is received with a mixture of feelings from different stake holders. Aid may be given by individuals, private organizations, or governments. Standards delimiting exactly the kinds of transfers that count as aid vary. Even if the principles of a definition are set, it remains difficult to determine the effective flow of aid because aid is fungible: receiving aid may free up funds in the recipient country for use in non-aid projects that could not have been undertaken had the aid not been received. For example, receiving food aid may enable a government to divert funds from its own food-support budget to its military budget. In that case the net effect of the aid is military although the aid money might actually be spent on food. Official organisations and those scholars who are primarily concerned with government policy issues frequently include only government-sourced aid in their aid figures, omitting aid from private sources. The most widely used measure of aid, "Official Development Assistance" (ODA) is such a figure. It is compiled by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The United Nations, the World Bank, and many scholars use the DAC's ODA figure as their main aid figure because it is easily available and reasonably consistently calculated over time and between countries, (Håkan, 2000).
Sogge (2002:15) says aid is another word for ‘help’. Richer countries give poorer countries aid to help them to make a better future for themselves. Giving people the tools and skills they need to fix their own problems is one example of aid. Persuading people to drop unfair debts is another. Poorer countries need aid to help them provide things like schools and hospitals. More aid would mean that every child in the world could go to school. Aid could give life-saving treatment to millions of people living with HIV/AIDS. It could pay for two million extra teachers, and four million health workers, which would mean free medical care and schooling for everyone.
However, there are some problems with aid. Sometimes richer countries prefer to give money to some countries and not others. The money may only be given for one year and not the next, or the amount may change. This makes it hard for poorer countries to make plans for the future. Even so, Make Poverty History achieved something amazing by persuading world leaders to drop the debts of 35 countries. Those countries have now got a chance to get back on their feet for the first time in many years. But it’s important to remember we need to drop the debts as well as give aid.
Beside these arguments, there are many misconceptions about aid, trade and foreign policy which affect our analysis of other nation’s aid programs. Contemporary approaches to aid and development follow a long history from colonialism and post-colonialism through the post-World War II establishment of the United Nations and other international institutions. An understanding of this history enables us to appreciate the structural inequalities and imbalances in power in the global community. In recent years, some new players have emerged in the aid environment. These developments reflect changes in global power relations. This includes states such as China and Taiwan taking on roles as key bilateral donors and the growth of private actors as donors. The growth of philanthropy and private capital flows in aid may be seen a reflection of the increasing power of private capital in the global economy, vis a vis nation states, Sogge, David (2002).
Sogge furthers that aid priorities are subject to various differences of opinion. There are competing views on issues such as: aid for development driven by economic growth, security interests, increased recipient autonomy and grassroots development. The official objective of Zambia’s overseas aid program is “to assist developing countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, in line with Australia’s national interest”. Moyo, Dambisa (2010) says:
Aid should be first and foremost guided by the needs of communities, allowing communities to determine their own development needs. It should promote local ownership and sustainability and be based on principles of social and environmental justice and support sustainable and long-term self-determination. Aid should be a mechanism of global social responsibility; not a tool for Zambia’s national interest. The final outcome of aid should be to remove the need for aid
This situation is quiet difficulty to manage because currently, a lot of third world countries receive Aids from the more developed ones. This situation, lasting for many years, has both, positive and negative aspects.

To begin with, humanitarian support is vital for Africa and some other continents. As a result of extremely low standards of living, people in such countries feel a huge lack of food and medicine. Therefore, the need of international Aid is undoubted. Furthermore, this support usually comes with education, which helps to prevent from AIDS and from other social diseases. Also, an Aid is inevitable after earthquakes and hurricanes when certain regions suffer from lack of drinking water.
Beisde these aspects, there are some serious disadvantages of supporting poor countries. Firstly, most of governments in such regions do not make much effort to deal with social problems. Instead, they collect treasure and set strong restrictions for citizens, what even make a situation worse. Secondly, such countries as, North Korea invest money into weapons and create danger to whole world despite they have many problems inside them. Finally, there does not seem any clear future prospects and improvement. In other words, there is no evidence that this situation will ever end. In addition, birth rate in poor countries increases, as it falls in the richest at the same time. International Aid must have long-term benefit for poor countries. Otherwise, it is only the question of time when developed countries would not be able to maintain growing number of people in the third world.
There are many ramifications and criticism with regard to aid. Aid is seldom given from motives of pure altruism; for instance it is often given as a means of supporting an ally in international politics and this does not help countries but they are just helping themselves. It may also be given with the intention of influencing the political process in the receiving nation. Whether one considers such aid helpful may depend on whether one agrees with the agenda being pursued by the donor nation in a particular case. During the conflict between communism and capitalism in the twentieth century, the champions of those ideologies, the Soviet Union and the United States, each used aid to influence the internal politics of other nations, and to support their weaker allies. Perhaps the most notable example was the Marshall Plan by which the United States, largely successfully, sought to pull European nations toward capitalism and away from communism. Aid to underdeveloped countries has sometimes been criticized as being more in the interest of the donor than the recipient, or even a form of neocolonialism, Dambisa (2010).
Other ramifications are that aid is given with some specific motives: defense support, market expansion, foreign investment, missionary enterprise, cultural extension. In recent decades, aid by organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank has been criticized as being primarily a tool used to open new areas up to global capitalists, and being only secondarily, if at all, concerned with the wellbeing of the people in the recipient countries.
Alongside with these ramifications of aid, aid may be criticized simply on the grounds that it is not effective: i.e., it did not do what it was intended to do or help the people it was intended to help. This is essentially an economic criticism of aid. The two types of criticism are not entirely separate: critics of the ideology behind a piece of aid are likely to see it as ineffective; and indeed, ineffectiveness must imply some flaws in the ideology. Statistical studies have produced widely differing assessments of the correlation between aid and economic growth, and no firm consensus has emerged to suggest that foreign aid generally does boost growth. Some studies find a positive correlation, but others find either no correlation or a negative correlation. In the case of Africa, Asante (1985) gives the following assessment:
Summing up the experience of African countries both at the national and at the regional levels it is no exaggeration to suggest that, on balance, foreign assistance, especially foreign capitalism, has been somewhat deleterious to African development. It must be admitted, however, that the pattern of development is complex and the effect upon it of foreign assistance is still not clearly determined. But the limited evidence available suggests that the forms in which foreign resources have been extended to Africa over the past twenty-five years, insofar as they are concerned with economic development, are, to a great extent, counterproductive.
Other scholars like economist William Easterly and others have argued that aid can often distort incentives in poor countries in various harmful ways. Aid can also involve inflows of money to poor countries that have some similarities to inflows of money from natural resources that provoke the resource curse. Emergency funds from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, for instance, are linked to a wide range of free-market policy prescriptions that some argue interfere in a country's sovereignty. Policy prescriptions from outsiders can do more harm as they might not fit the local environment. The IMF can be good at helping countries over a short problematic financial period, but for poor countries with long lasting issues it can cause harm.
It is clear that tere are many ramifications and criticism of aid, but many factors, including those discussed below and more, must be considered in a discussion that takes into account the effectiveness of aid. While it is true that aid is rarely given for motives of pure altruism. However, it is important to look at where aid goes. For example, “only about one fifth of U.S. aid goes to countries classified by the OECD as ‘least developed.’ The basic criticism of aid is that it neither goes where it was intended nor helps those intended. According to Collier, there are four known traps that contribute this problem. The first such trap is known as the conflict trap. Aid should not be used to finance military endeavors. It is difficult to “design aid in such a way that it works even in the environments of poor governance and poor policy that are most at risk of conflict.” The second trap is called the natural resource trap. Countries that are resource rich already have a large volume of capital flowing into their economies. However, it is not being used to its potential. The third trap occurs when a country is entirely landlocked. This one is not too hard to figure out – it is difficult for these countries to engage in global trade. The fourth trap is that of bad governance. However, “there are three ways in which aid can potentially help turnarounds: incentives, skills, and reinforcement.” Policy conditionalities, or structural adjustments, were reservations put on aid until a government agreed to aid implemented in the 1980’s. This did not work. Aid needs to somehow provide incentives for giving the people power. Power needs to be transferred from the governments to the people. Aid should be restructured in order to allow for skills building in country. According to Collier, “technical assistance is not negligible – money spent on countries with the skilled people who constitute technical assistance is a quarter of total aid flows.”[ The problem is not that too little money is being provided, rather that technical assistance is not country specific. Aid is also given as budget support, reinforcement for failing states. There is an opportune moment for assisting failing states but it must be done at the right time. Aid cannot be continually poured into failing states and be expected to produce a turnaround. However, if aid is given at the opportune political moment, it can support turnarounds. Collier suggests that when that moment occurs “pour in the technical assistance as quickly as possible to help implement reform” and “then, after a few years, start pouring in the money for the government to spend.”
It can be concluded that this paper has discussed the concept of aid poiting out its negatives and positive ramifications. Aid should be to learn what developing countries hope to accomplish and how much money they need to accomplish those goals. Goals should be made with the Millennium Development Goals in mind for these furnish real metrics for providing basic needs and in addressing the needs and expectations of a particular country. Those giving aid should not do so with a viewing milking the little resources those countries have as it is done in most countries today.

ActionAid, May 2005, "Real Aid" - analysis of the proportion of aid wasted on consultants, tied aid, etc.
Håkan Malmqvist (2000), Development Aid, Humanitarian Assistance and Emergency Relief, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sweden.
Moyo, Dambisa (2010). Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-141031-187
Riddell, Roger C. (2008). Does Foreign Aid Work?. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-199-544446-2.

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