Each year, billions of US dollars are sent to Africa as aid from the US government, foundations, charities, etc. These dollars are intended to develop the continent. In my classes focused on development, I often ask the students on the first day of class to comment on US aid to Africa. Interestingly, usually one or two students would have visited Africa on a mission trip. Answers are always unanimous on how US aid is ‘saving’ Africa. But is it really?
You can only imagine how shock some of the students are when I challenge their notion and argue that some of the aid might actually be hurting Africa rather than ‘saving’ Africa. We spend the semester exploring the impact of development aid. So, the question is, ‘Is development aid helping or hurting Africa?’ It is often hard for them to grasp how a $300 million donation of caterpillar equipments with a counterpart funding clause may actually hurt a country in the long run or how free Mosanto seeds might end up leaving many hungry and poor! It is free gifts, why should it hurt? That is the challenge!
I am hoping that I can build a project that will better teach the complexities involved in development aid and its longterm impact.