Why do international aid agencies keep pouring clothing, foodstuff, housing materials, and even technology like solar panels into a severe disaster area for years and years? In the movie Poverty, Inc several interviewees talked about the negative effect that free stuff had on their business. Why doesn’t the money go to the business owners inside the country to help the economy recover? It appears that the motivation might be greed.
To be clear, the relief aid meets a clear and valid need, to keep people from dying, to provide shelter from the elements, to feed the hungry. However, if the aid should go on for years in these disaster areas, then this creates a welfare state. It can keep politicians in power that may otherwise be voted out. It gives politicians a way to pass the buck on needed reforms.
One interviewee talked about how USA grain farmers got subsidies to grow more crops, then when there was too much, the farmers got a contract with the aid agency to send it to another country. This is very destructive to both countries. For USA it can keep massive corporate farms in business producing mono-crops, which affects our health, the environment, and yet keeps the corporation wealthy. For the other country, it traps them in a poverty cycle.
When an African nation cuts down their fruit-bearing trees because of the competition from food shipped in as aid, something must be done. I have not supported large aid agencies and now see the reason to avoid doing this. However, I still want to see people who can go in and train, to encourage, to listen to the needs within the affected area and act on it. Those are the people that I would support and to send money. I would like to seek ways to send the message that sending aid without thinking about the consequences can be a detriment, rather than a blessing.