Does Aid Help Or Hinder?
This is the reason I chose to study Social Anthropology alongside Development Studies. As a Social Development Consultant I have spent a lot of time working alongside, for example, civil engineers building roads in the developing world to ensure development work was carried out in a sustainable manner: site offices were built as permanent structures so that they could be left behind once the works were complete as clinics and classrooms; irrigation works were set up to ensure drainage to farm land and not as waste matter.
Having grown up in Africa in the 1980s I have seen supposed charity donations for sale on the black market. One of the very reasons I set up Sal’s Shoes, after contacting charities that do similar, was so that I (and all shoe donors) could ensure that I know exactly where and how the shoes are being distributed. Yes, shoes being shipped in by the tonne in containers could mean local shoe makers are being put out of business, but I do also believe that shoes sent in smaller numbers to those children desperately in need (and Sal’s Shoes do believe ‘charity begins at home’ and are indeed open to distributing anywhere in the world, including in the UK) may just mean those children now have a pair of shoes to go to school in, and receive an education and grow up and gain full-time employment and help to make their country self-sufficient.
The recently published Bill & Melinda Gates annual letter (2014) makes for interesting reading:
The most valid point being perhaps that it isn’t really a question of whether foreign aid works, but how do we make it work better? In our case we would hope that short term support and facilitation means long term benefit and sustainability.
Sammy Nawali, the founder of Rainedge International in Kenya which runs the Sure 24 Centre and to whom we have sent a collection of shoes, works with more than 250 kids aged 2-19 every day and provide accommodation for 120 of these. Sammy is Kenyan and wrote to me late last year: ‘Shoes will mean a lot to us as this is part of our heritage. I personally got a gift of second hand shoes (which was the very 1st pair of shoes I had ever owned) when I was approaching the age of 13. I remember to this day how special and loved this made me feel. Thanks again for thinking of us and being willing to help invest in our lives out here in Nakuru, Kenya.'