Student - October 13, 2011

For and against

Text:
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Proposition: It is right for the Dutch government to cut its development aid budget. There are better ways of spending the money.

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Jillis:
It is not just in these times of economic malaise that it is good for spending on development aid to be cut; in any case not another cent should be spent through the traditional method of delivering development aid. This method - an appeal to donate via giro account 555, followed by sending sacks of food and money, only to start all over again three months later - doesn't help these countries get any further at all.
Firstly, these countries never learn to stand on their own two feet. And the fact that this is perfectly possible is demonstrated by enterprising characters in places like Kenya, who do manage to produce plenty of food. Secondly, aid supplies are often confiscated by rebels - in Somalia by the charming Islamist Al-Shabaab - so they can blackmail the population with them. And yet money is still being thrown away on such aid, both by government and by private parties. As for the latter, it's up to them if they are so naïve as to support terrorism and dependence, but I expect something else from the state.
Marlies responds:
There are also projects which, instead of just sending money and food, ask for input from the local population, thus stimulating self-reliance. In fact what you are saying is that SOME types of aid are not effective, and the money CAN end up in the wrong hands, so we should just do nothing. Don't you think that's a bit short-sighted?
Marlies:
Even if the economy is in a bit of a dip, this is still one of the wealthiest countries in the world. And a vast majority of the population doesn't have to worry about their basic survival needs. But not all of the world's population can take meeting these needs for granted. It seems logical to me that if you have to make savings, you spare the most vulnerable groups. Of course the money should be well spent; in the past it became clear that by no means all the efforts were effective. If you ask me, knowledge about exactly how another society works is crucial to determining what kind of aid will really have an impact.
In other words, be critical of development aid, but don't cut its budget. Because we are talking about people who are a lot worse off than us in the Netherlands.
Jillis responds:
The fact that Holland is rich is down to our culture and attitude in which self-reliance, a trading spirit and entrepreneurship are central. In short: we just tackle things better that developing countries. In any case, Africa will not benefit at all if we keep on pampering the continent. It is time they became self-reliant there too.

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