Funding Aid, Poverty Rates, and Moyo on China’s Investment [Week 9]

Sachs Chapter 15

In Chapter 15, by referring to the “rich”, Sachs is referring to people who make more than the average income for their households, specifically in the United States. I find it difficult to agree with this because asking someone to pay more based on the fact that they have more money is bound to be burdensome, regardless of if they are willing to do it or not. However, the wealthiest in our nation are the most capable of making the greatest difference.

Money, taken by taxcredits.net, used under Creative Commons
Money, taken by taxcredits.net, used under Creative Commons

Taxing the rich isn’t a sustainable idea, because asking someone to give up their money, regardless of how much they have, is going to stir discontent. Eventually someone is going to resist the idea, and then you have more opposition than assent. Especially in the United States, there is an emphasis on the concept that if you work hard enough, it is possible to achieve many things in life. Regardless of however truth this may have in today’s economy and circumstances, the idea remains. I think that is why our aid, while still large by international standards, has become so small. People and institutions don’t like giving up what they earn, and give just enough to feel satisfied.

With that being said, I think that the best method is to install a flat rate that is paid by all, regardless of income. This way necessary funds are generated by all, and it’s a more sustainable source of income because everyone is paying the same rate, leaving room for less dissatisfaction.

[Aid Package Example for Burkina Faso]

*Access to clean water in rural areas: Clean water is difficult to access in more rural areas, leading to the early death of thousands of children every year. The addition of clean water would greatly improve health and quality of life.

551_Zata School Well, taken by Gary Edenfield, used under Creative Commons
551_Zata School Well, taken by Gary Edenfield, used under Creative Commons

*Funding to medical sectors to provide adequate supplies and healthcare professionals to expecting and new mothers: In Burkina Faso there is a high rate of maternal mortality, and this is difficult to combat with a number of internal and external factors. While the government attempts to help combat the corruption that exists here, mothers in rural areas are still not getting the medical care that they need.

*Funding to assist in times of food shortages: Burkina Faso is land-locked and currently suffering from changing environmental conditions, allowing it to be plagued by limited nutritional resources. The influx of refugees into Burkina Faso from neighboring Mali have also put a particular strain of these resources, not only for incoming refugees, but for those surrounding heavily-populated refugee areas as well.

[Poverty Rates in Burkina Faso]

2004: 45.3 % of the population was recognized as impoverished.

2014: The most recent rates on poverty available for Burkina Faso were those taken from 2007-2011, and they indicated that 44.6% of the population is still below the poverty line.

Sachs Chapter 16

While some of the myths that Sachs talks about may have some truths in them, I think the main reason that they are myths is because they are based on observable facts. Those in rich countries who make the decisions about how much aid to give and where it is needed honestly do not have the knowledge that is necessary to debunk them, and their voices are heard at a larger scale than the Africans who are experiencing the obstacles and barriers to better resources, infrastructure, and institutions. I do think that Sachs’ analysis here brought a lot of accurate points to the forefront.

One of the myths that Sachs talks about in particular is about AIDS, and I think that he made several good points here. There is some kind of misconception that Africans are more promiscuous, or as Sachs puts it, have a “lack of morals”, but as he identifies, this isn’t the case at all. The African population as a whole may have different cultural and sexual norms, but none of this leads to increased sexual encounters versus the rest of the world.

While there are many speculated reasons why HIV/AIDS is so prevalent in Africa, I’m not sure any of those will ever really matter. It isn’t so much the question of How did HIV/AIDS get to this point?, but rather, How do we counter it from here? Programs have been put into place to educate youth (like this one in Burkina Faso), as well as different demographics in Africa, on the disease, its prevention, and better health care, which is a step in the right direction.

Moyo Part 2

Moyo does have objections about China’s record of investment, mostly dwelling on the fact that it may be creating a bad precedent for Africa. As Moyo discusses, the Chinese have been able to undercut some of the major world banks and financial institutions by compromising on the social and environmental standards that are attached to loans. This presents a new approach to Africa, who is readily accepting of this, in some cases. I think that the problem with this kind of investment is that it opens a door for a new kind of struggle, where the region improves because of the injection of much-needed cash, but the reforms and changes so badly needed aren’t made.

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