Monday, August 22, 2005

Annan Aids Africa; Ignores Asia

Kofi Annan is in Niger today, attempting to maintain focus on that poverty stricken nation. (UN News Center: Annan visits Niger to keep world focused on humanitarian situation). At least, according to the rest of the world, Niger is impoverished. As you may recall, the president of Niger just ten-days ago claimed his nation was not suffering from a famine and that food shortages were normal. (I'm sure he was well fed when he made that comment.)

As I've stated in other posts on this topic, the biggest problem African nations face is themselves. The corruption in the most impoverished nations in Africa is astounding and is a major inhibitor to getting aid where it's most needed. I still maintain that fixing the corruption problem is a prerequisite to getting aid through.

What is most striking, however, is the complete lack of focus on the poverty stricken nations in Asia. (Deccan Herald: Nearly half of Asia's children are in poverty). While Kofi Annan focuses on the 3 million starving in Africa, he ignores the 600 million starving in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, East Timor, Vietnam and the Philippines. Oddly enough, many of those countries are receptive to foreign aid and the money sent would actually benefit the people. Not in all cases, mind you, but in far more than exist in Africa.

I'm a strong believer in sending the money to where it will do the most good. Countries where the aid cannot reach the victims are not countries where that money should be sent. It may sound harsh, but the cold reality is that sending aid countriesies that abuse it effectively takes aid directly away from countries that will use it to benefit their people. In that context, who would continue to advocate sending money to the more corrupt countries in Africa - or to a country who's government denies the need for that aid in the first place (i.e. Niger.)

In the Asia versus Africa debate, if I need to choose which should benefit more from my aid dollars, that choice would be Asia. More people will benefit and the region itself is tryidesperatelyely to help itself. Even China is working hard to overcome its own internal problems (although I wouldn't send them a penny until they change their human rights policies.) Of course, Kofi Annan may disagree. Of course, Kofi Annan is from Ghana, which, just coincidentally, is in West Africa.


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