Week 11: The Grameen Foundation, Moyo’s Dead Aid Proposal, and the Hindrances of Aid

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The Grameen Foundation’s logo. From http://www.grameenfoundation.org

1. The Grameen Foundation helps connect those living in poor countries who have incredible ideas and ambitions with the resources necessary to proceed and flourish. This organization gives partners access to financial services and information on health and agriculture.

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A graphic for MOTECH- Ghana. From http://alltopstartups.com/2011/10/04/motech-a-mobile-solution-for-maternal-health-care-in-ghana/

In conjunction with the Ghana Health Service, the Grameen Foundation established the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) initiative, which aims to improve maternal and neonatal care in rural areas of the country. The partnership designed two mobile phone applications to enhance access to maternal health education and information.

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An image showing the market price information for coffee provided by CKW. From http://ckw.grameenfoundation.org

In Uganda, the Grameen Foundation has worked alongside Village Phone to create the Community Knowledge Worker initiative, which gives smallholder farmers access to accurate, timely agricultural information. Such information helps them safeguard crops, increase yields, and find improved market prices. Thus, the role of this mobile technology is to provide access to previously inaccessible information. With handheld devices, reliable information that improves the health, wellness, and prosperity of the world’s poor can be relayed in a quick, convenient, and cheap way.

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The cover of Moyo’s book, Dead Aid. From http://www.chris-beckett.com/uncategorized/3518/dead-aid-by-dambisa-moyo/

2. In Chapter 10: Making Development Happen of Moyo’s Dead Aid, she discusses three interlinked stages. The first of which is “an economic plan that reduces a country’s reliance on aid year on year” (Moyo, p. 145). Here, she claims that the country’s income from aid can be replaced by many other financing options, such as remittances, trade, FDI, micro-finance, the capital markets, and savings.

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A political cartoon depicting how corruption prevents aid from trickling down to the poorest of the poor. From http://www.africanplato.com/global-corruption-and-africa/

After a particular financing plan is set, the nation must then enforce and stick to the budget. With this, Moyo pays special attention to corruption. Spending beyond its means is unacceptable, and cutbacks must cut back on the non-essential, luxurious, and frivolous items, not education, infrastructure, and health.

Last, Moyo declares institutions must be strengthened in order for the Dead Aid solution to succeed. This comes in the form of accountability, responsibility, and transparency within the private sector.

Additionally, Moyo continues describing how rampant poverty abroad is potentially harmful to the more developed Western world. She declares, “The four horses of Africa’s apocalypse- corruption, disease, poverty and war- can easily ride across international borders, putting Westerners at just as much risk as Africans” (Moyo, p. 151). She also describes marginalized refugees and unbridled immigration, which would undoubtedly burden any Western economy, being repercussions of unchecked global poverty.

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A photo of Andrew Mwenda. From http://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/2008/05/03/534321.html

3. In his riveting TedTalk “Aid for Africa? No thanks.”, Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda eloquently asserts, “We need to reframe the challenge that is facing Africa from a challenge of despair, which is called ‘poverty reduction’, to a challenge of hope… and that is ‘wealth creation’.” The image Western media outlets spew of the large African continent are those of hopelessness, war, which play to the sympathies of potential donors. This, however, locks Africa into a charity state without acknowledging its entrepreneurship, drive, and successes. Additionally, in providing aid in all its forms, such as food shipments, medicine, and peacekeeping, Mwenda declares, “You are treating the symptoms not the causes of Africa’s fundamental problems.” What Africa needs is to develop itself and increase its wealth, not rely outside donations only focused on reducing poverty. Mwenda even says “The ability to take an opportunity and turn it into an advantage depends on internal capacity.”

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A photo of Herman Chinery-Hesse. From http://memeburn.com/2011/05/‘bill-gates-of-africa’-to-speak-at-local-conference/

In this video from Poverty Cure, Herman Chinery-Hesse, a Ghanaian entrepreneur, recounts how international foreign aid was an obstacle for his growing business. For instance, when large NGOs caught wind of his investment (to the NGO the need for a certain service to be performed), it offered the same services to the target population for free. This backlash forced Chinery-Hesse to lay off several staff members. After other similar instances, some of which involving his own government’s actions, he claimed, “Politicians are more interested in a smile on the World Bank country director’s face than in the success of my business.” With donors providing loans and free goods and services, upcoming businesses have no chance of survival. He leaves the viewer of the video saying, “That’s not development. That’s not assistance. That’s thievery.” After hearing his personal accounts, I cannot help but agree.

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