Foreign Aid Essay, Research Paper
There is a large gap in the development of the Northern and Southern nations of the world. The Northern countries in general are geared more towards industry and are more economically prosperous because of it. While the South is much less industrial and as a result lacks the wealth that the North enjoys(Rourke, 1998, p.168). That is not to say, however, that there are not wealthy countries in the South or poor countries in the North, but generally speaking most of the world s wealth lies in the hands of the North. This fact brings up a very interesting question. Is it the responsibility of the wealthier nations to aid the poorer ones? Should the more prosperous nations give up some of their wealth to help the impoverished nations? And, if they do give aid to the poorer nations should it be an investment, or should it simply be a gift? Today there are still many different views on the matter. Some feel that everyone should look out for themselves, and no aid should be given. Some want to help the less fortunate countries almost to the point of sharing everything. I think that there is a balance between the two that must be found.
The gap between the rich and the poor is growing, and will continue to grow unless there is something done about it. Today the net worth of 10 billionaires is worth 1.5 times the combined national income of the world s 48 least developed countries (Unknown Author (socialism), 1997,p. 1). If there is nothing done to help aid the impoverished nations we could see that gap reach astronomical heights. While many countries in the North are enjoying the benefits of a strong economy there are still 1.3 billion people living on a dollar a day or less, 160 million children moderately or severely malnourished, and one fifth of the world s population not expected to live beyond the age of
40 (Unknown Author (socialism),1997, p. 1).
Knowing that all of this poverty and hunger exists in the world, it is a wonder that more is not being done to help aid the poorer nations. In fact there has been a decrease in aid to third world countries in the last few years. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an organization of twenty one nations dedicated to eradicating world poverty. However, the OECD reported that in 1996 the aid from is twenty one nations fell by 3.8 billion dollars. (Hricik, p.1) The report also noted that the total aid given by the nations of the OECD in 1996 was less than one quarter of one percent of their total gross national product.(Hricik, p.1) The drop off in aid is interesting because there has been a significant strengthening of the economies of the wealthier nations in the world in the 1990s. The OECD also noted in their report that there has been a total lack of commitment demonstrated by the wealthiest of the member nations, including the United States, in obtaining their goal of devoting .7 percent of their gross national products to end world poverty.(Hricik, p.1)
There are many ways that the wealthy nations can provide aid for the poorer ones. Many people think that it is actually beneficial to wealthy nations to give aid to end world poverty, because the negative trends have even begun to afflict the rich (Rourke, 1998, p.170). Poverty has been increasing in many industrialized nations including the United States, the United Kingdom, and other powerful nations(Rourke, 1998, p.170). For example, in the United States one in five children is poor, and in both the United Kingdom and the United States child poverty has doubled in the last decade(Rourke, 1998, p.170). This illustrates that the problem of world poverty is really universal and not just
in the third world countries. It also shows the dire need for aid to alleviate poverty world wide.
Many nations treat aid as in investment. They give aid to the poorer nations hoping there will be a strong return on their investment . This is a major problem in the attempt to provide aid to poverty stricken nations. The money is given with the expectation of getting something in return. While this may seem terrible at first it is actually a good way to entice richer nations to give aid to the poorer nations. It is to be expected in this world of realists that you can t get anything for free, and that applies to aid as well. There are often certain expectations that a wealthy nation has of the poorer one when giving aid. They expect to be given favorable trade relations, and that the poorer nations will support them in any way they can.
Many think that aid should be slowed or stopped because they don t think that they get what they paid for. The United States for example, may think that the recipients of its aid are ungrateful, when most recipients of United States foreign aid vote against the United States in the United Nations (Duplantier,1996, p.1). Actually about 68 percent of United States aid recipients vote against the U.S. in the United Nations.(Johnson, 1997, p.1) In fact to the top ten countries voting against the United States in the U.N. most of the time, the United States will give some $323 million in U.S. foreign aid (Johnson, 1997, p.1) This is an excellent example of why many people think that financial aid is not a worth while use of our money. The U.S. is not getting its money s worth says Bryan Johnson (Johnson, 1997, p.1). This is a strong argument for stopping or slowing financial aid.
Another reason not to increase aid to less developed
countries is that the aid is not really alleviating poverty. In poor nations aid is rarely concentrated on the services that benefit the poorest (Rourke, 1998, p.179). The people who are already better off in the poor countries are getting most of the benefits from the aid. The aid is given to the people that are most likely to be able to give something back. This is a result of aid-givers being more interested in obtaining their own objectives than relieving poverty.(Rourke, 1998, p.179)
Another obvious reason for not giving aid to other nations is that there are already enough problems in the developed countries that need primary attention. In the United States for example, one fifth of the children are living in poverty(Rourke, 1998, p.170). And in both the United Kingdom and the United States child poverty is on a steady rise(Rourke, 1998, p.170). With all of these problems at home, why should these economic superpowers be spending their money on others in poverty, while their own are poor.
When aid is being given but not relieving poverty, or gaining any friendly votes, one wonders if aid is worth giving. It can be seen that often aid does not achieve its goals, whatever its goals may be. This is a strong basis for an argument against the giving of aid.
I feel that it should be the primary goal of the world to end poverty and hunger. I think that it is not only the business of the richer nations to provide the aid, but it is also important for the poorer nations to help determine where aid should be allocated to truly relieve poverty. The British Government has recently taken a step in the right direction, by redesigning its international development aid policy(UnknownAuthor (British),1997, p.1). Instead of giving the money for favorable trade relations,
which was the previous case, the focus is now on cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty(less than $1 a day) in half by the year 2015(Unknown Author (British),1997, p.1). This is an ambitious goal, but it will be achieved if Britan’s intentions stay honorable. In my opinion this is the kind of aid needed to truly end all poverty.
In a perfect world, all of the wealthy powers would allocate
a significant portion of their gross national product to aid, with no strings attached. However, because this world is not perfect, that is not possible. I do believe that there is a good compromise on aid to impoverished countries. There needn’t be more funds given, they just need to be given correctly. Instead of giving the aid in order to receive beneficial trade relations, or votes in the United Nations, give the money directly to feeding the poorest, getting medical attention to all, family planning, etc., without expectations of repayment. If more aid is still needed than more aid should be given. It is imperative to go to the root of the problem, putting personal motives aside and concentrating on helping the most needy. If the donor-nations could help the poor nations get on their feet, then there will be benefits for all. The poor nation will then hopefully be able to start developing itself into a self sufficient nation which could contribute to the growth of the world economy. Aid needs to be given generously. It is unacceptable to have people living below the poverty line. With a little generosity on the part of the richer nations, the entire world will benefit in the future.