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Is aid the answer?

09:29 UK time, Monday, 13 September 2010

The commission set up by Tony Blair to find solutions to poverty in Africa says the continent needs billions more dollars in aid. Is this the right way to change Africa?

The Commission for Africa says the world's poorest continent has made "extraordinary progress" since 2005 but poverty reduction has also become more challenging in many parts of Africa.

There has been what the commission calls "dramatic" economic growth and a surge in trade and investment.

But the vast majority of people in the continent have yet to benefit from this economic success. And the commission says there will be further challenges from climate change and rising food prices.

What is your reaction to the commission's suggestions? Is aid the answer? How else can people be raised out of poverty? Do you live in the continent?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.


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  • Comment number 1.

    It won't make any difference how much money is poured into the African continent until the corrupt are made to stop using aid as their personal piggy bank.

  • Comment number 2.

    Barack Obama spends too much money in the Middle East on the United States Army and CIA to massacre Afghani villagers and destroy religious relics. Federal funds could help the desperately needy in Africa from famine and plague.

  • Comment number 3.

    Definitely not cash aid!! Advisers; yes. Machinery; yes. Medical supplies; yes. Mobile homes; yes. Foods; yes. The time has come to put some sanity into this African dilemma, the leaders have a lot to answer for and must reduce their personal takings from the meagre earnings of the country. Some African countries of course have huge income sources, these should be persuaded to help their poorer neighbour, rather than have the so called richer European forever dipping into their pockets.

  • Comment number 4.

    Aid is a self sustaining industry. All of the major charities are just businesses, like any other business, and their donations are just another form of the market.
    I am not talking about emergency aid, like the Pakistan flood, but aid which is given on the drip. If aid is go to Africa, or Afghanistan or anywhere, it should be given directly to the individual people. Not to the 'NGOs', not to the Government, and not in the form of goods. Then the people can spend the money as they please and set up a free market. Giving money directly to the people gives them power politically, stops waste, goes on what is needed, and would boost local business. Everything that traditional aid does not do.

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course. Just look at its sterling track record. One usually doesn't need to ask the question of successful programs, just the failed ones, when one is getting ready to attempt it yet again. In the current economic climate it is going to be a hard sell to squeeze more funds when it is so desperately needed in the developed economies - the primary source for aid. And once again the hapless victims of poverty will do without, while their leaders live like royalty. And in many instances consider themselves to be royalty.

  • Comment number 6.

    Africa will never change, no matter how much money is given, the answer in Africa to every problem is simply to look to the the colonial powers they so hate and get the begging bowl out again. Exactly the same policy as Pakistan. Much easier to beg than work to improve after all.

    And that is before we even mention endemic corruption!

    I cant remember the number, I'm sure someone on here will, but how many billions of African debt did the dynamic duo of Bliar and Broon write off at a G8 summit in 2007? And yet we have daily rantings on this site against the banks and bankers in this country............

  • Comment number 7.

    Advice and resources are a far better way of helping Africa than throwing cash at corrupt governments, a worthwhile point I think is that to become involved in anything that Toady Bliar is involved in should cause most decent people to check that they still have their wallets.

  • Comment number 8.

    Aid is not the answer stop breeding millions of unwanted children is the answer. The world is four times overpopulated already mass starvation is the near future now nature will address the balance. Mankind does not control this planet and food has already run out.

  • Comment number 9.

    AID isn't the solution, It's merely the Carrot & Stick which needs be used adroitly, furthering our exacting and
    inescapable native goalposts on the Continent. Left to themselves, Learning can't be guaranteed.

    Our conditionless Aid itself is a partial impetus Not to learn, Not to tackle Piracy, Corruption or Pollution.

    In a very real world sense, they're being rewarded to Stagnate.

  • Comment number 10.

    As has been noted before that every time aid is sent to a country it increases the population and therefore more mouths to feed and more aid is required so more aid is not the solution.

  • Comment number 11.

    "How else can people be raised out of poverty?"

    fair trade contract with local co-operatives, actual 'hands-on' building of infrastructure instead of sending money, stop trying to make every other country into a UK/US-stlye 'democracy'.

    there are many ways we could help Africans to help themselves, unfortunately, we help in such way that some people here can grow fat on the proceeds while the African peoples remain dependent.

  • Comment number 12.

    ''The commission set up by Tony Blair to find solutions to poverty in Africa says the continent needs billions more dollars in aid. Is this the right way to change Africa?''

    No because this has been happening ever since the African nations became independent.
    Most aid poured in is syphoned off by corrupt politicians and officials.
    Those who believes that pouring more money in aid actually helps the situation in Africa are deluding themselves.

  • Comment number 13.

    It breaks my heart that in this day and age we still haven't wiped out poverty and stavation in Africa.

    But where's all the money gone, all the concerts, all the children in need years since 1980 it has raised over £500 million, billions raised by Britain people alone, never mind the rest of the world, the wiping out of debts by G8 countries for what? to whom has this aid and money gone to?

    Why only progress since 2005 what about the trilions raised before then?

    Some stats say $60 trillion has been given to African countries in the last 60 years.

    Whats happened to ?

  • Comment number 14.

    Was he given commercial support by the bank that he also represents that would stand to make millions along the way?

    What Africa doesn't need is a man with his morals pontificating about what it needs. Africa's problems are too deep to be decided over a bit of garlic chiabatta and prawn cocktail, washed down with a bit of Riojca. Not too much now Tony, we know you were pushing it a bit much before, having half a bottle, you little devil you.

    The actual attack needs to be five fold.

    First, a worldwide ban on the sale of any arms to Africa

    Second, using the UN or Nato the corrupt and authoratarian nations are blitzed. Zimbabwe would be overrun in less than a week, because as soon as the first soldier dropped onto its soil the majority of the army would turn. Not the generals, they would be too busy going into hiding.

    Third, the end to agricultural protection of EU and American farmers and the removal of the tariffs and conditiuons that make African agriculture so uncompetitive.

    Fourth, representative government for the people, by the people.

    Then there will be some aid needed, but it needs to be channelled properly and tracked.

    Can Blair assist in any of this, no he has proved that he has no sway in EU policy or in getting the USA to do what he wants and only two weeks ago in his puff piece with Any Marr he said Mugabe couldn't be taken out, amongst others.

    So why doesn't he just concentrate on what he is good at, have a word with Guy Ritchie and get into Hollywood.

  • Comment number 15.

    ''1. At 09:58am on 13 Sep 2010, Neil Probert wrote:
    It won't make any difference how much money is poured into the African continent until the corrupt are made to stop using aid as their personal piggy bank.''

    But who is going to make the corrupt stop using aid as their personal piggy bank?

    No one. That is why pouring more billions, trillions, or even zillions of pounds into aid will achieve absolutely nothing. Only when aid is stopped will these countries start to do, as other countries did before aid factured into their survival, start to stand on their own two feet.

  • Comment number 16.

    Aid is definitely the answer but it needs to be spent wisely. Education, education and education are the top three causes to support because they will really help Africans to help themselves.

    Education will also help Africans to see through all the lies that Mr Blair’s Roman Catholic Church is spreading around concerning HIV and contraception.

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree with number 13: They want to start with getting the corruption out of these countries. Just ask yourselves 'Where does all the money really go!' makes me mad to see children born into suffering like this. Ever since I was a kid I saw the poverty in Africa advertised I'm now 44 it's the same images and adverts you see on television in the papers nothing has changed.

  • Comment number 18.

    No, it cannot be afforded. Tell Tony Blair to give some of his millions.

  • Comment number 19.

    Stop exporting african goods at low prices and stop increasing import goods at extortionate prises. (That would be a good start)

    I also think that the curupted officials of the african government need to be sniffed out and made an example of.
    Too many greedy high rollers are killing africa, sort out a full political party, trained and prept from the UK and the UN to run Africa as a sister county to Europe.

    Allow a full open source government to control africa government spending, and for crying out loud give them back their diamond mines and gold mines.

    I think it is obvious that there is too much curuption in Africa, more aid would not help as it never gets to the people that need it.
    (Everyone has to take there own little slice out of the funding before it is even given to them)

    Tony Blair says on one hand that Africa needs more funding, but I wonder how much it costs Africa to fund his visit?

    Stop been two faced Mr Blair.

  • Comment number 20.

    No cash aid and no military hardware.

    IMO, aid should be limited to food, medical and, above all, education. Furthermore, the food and medicine distribution should be supervised by the charities/NGOs of the donating countries - from its collection in the donating nations to its final use. Otherwise there's still a danger that it could fall into the hands of corrupt politicians who will sell it and stash the proceeds in numbered accounts.

    Any aid receiving country which objects to this gets no aid until it conforms.

  • Comment number 21.

    Monetary aid is not the answer for Africa, it only gets syphoned off by corrupt governments. If we really want to help those in the most dire poverty, it is better to send people & equipment so they can build wells & help locals make farms for themselves. If Mr Blair feels so strongly about this maybe he should be setting an example to us lesser mortals & show us how we can help those in Africa.

  • Comment number 22.

    I am not quite sure why populations persist in some parts of the world which seem unable to support life without aid.

    I understand that disasters (natural and man-made) can cause localised and (hopefully) short term disruption to the ability of people to live in an area. In these cases recovery is possible and expected so aid is valuable to support regeneration. If an area has proven over the course of many years that it cannot sustain a population, why have people not gradually migrated elsewhere?

    I have no information to help me answer this question but, by sending on-going long term aid to some regions are we encouraging the idea that things will all be alright eventually, when in fact, self-sustaining communities will never be possible in some places?

    Would it actually be fairer to try and manage down the number of people settled in some locations by encouraging people to go elsewhere, or at least by discouraging more people from arriving in these places?

  • Comment number 23.

    Typical Tony Blair...just keep chucking more £'s in there so that the rich there can keep creaming ot all of for themselves, rather that track what we do put in there through to the end user.

    Perhaps this is something else politicians don't want to know, because the answer would give them a problem.

  • Comment number 24.

    I've never given to any African aid campaigns, and I never will, until it can be proved to me beyond doubt that:-

    1. The money will go to the people who need it, not their corrupt rulers

    2. The catholic church has ceased all its anti-condom propaganda in Africa.

  • Comment number 25.

    International Aid - Poor people from rich countries giving money to rich people in poor countries while bankers and politicians get rich acting as the middle men...

    If you really want to help other people then buy Fair Trade products; trade is a far better solution than aid.

  • Comment number 26.

    "commission set up by Tony Blair to find solutions to. . ." has come up with guess what: spend a load of money that you don't have by borrowing/begging off people who never had it in the first place and are simply going to screw you in the end. Yep: he's got previous on that!

    When that doesn't work perhaps Gordon Brown could set up a commission that will recommend more of the same, but in a slightly grumpier fashion. What Africa needs is less contraception and more pompous pontificating from self-righteous has-beens who's book-sales didn't quite live up to expectation..

  • Comment number 27.

    Having lived and worked in several African countries, I've come to realize that aid is only making matters worse. The only thing that can help is to try to force political, business and religious leaders to convince people to control the birth rate. Everything else is secondary to that.

  • Comment number 28.

    Most Africans know that they have not much grain, corn, sugar and salt. They know that 80% of their land is dry and sandy. Yet they keep having babies, just so they will starve like the rest of the people. They need to be tort about contraception. They need to stop breeding at such high levels, that their food supply can not sustain them. Every time I see news clips of families in Africa a man and woman have over 6 kids each and three have already died from starvation. Why breed more when there’s no food. This is the answer to Africa. We as Europe not so much the USA have been giving aid (cash) to Africa for over 70 years and what has it done. Nothing really. Over 1000 billion pounds has gone in to the country. Yet 80% of it goes to the richer towns and communities. The filtering of this money is so bad. If Blair and Brown etc think money gets rid of all poverty, why did they not think of this when our own banks and insurance companies began spending so much that got us to in to the debt? No money is not the way forward for this poor country. Get rid of the rich governments and org that filter the aid money and give out advice and contraception advice, this will help in the short and long term.

  • Comment number 29.

    Capitalism is theft.

  • Comment number 30.

    Does the phrase 'throwing good money after bad' sound familiar. Billions upon billions of aid have not made the slightest difference. Even giving food or other supplies is doubtful at best as they get stolen and sold on the black market more often than not. All we achieve is that the local governments have an excellent incentive to keep their people starving: it gives them an excuse to ask for yet more money.

  • Comment number 31.

    Do not hand the poor a fish on the plate, instead teach them how to fish. Whatever, a major chunk will be usurped by the people managing the channel and the ever-greedy rulers who fatten themselves on the spoils of office. And I do not trust any commission set up by Tony Blair who wagged his tail with bossom pal Bush after their war crimes in Iraq where more than a million Iraqi civilians lost their lives and millions more were displaced.

  • Comment number 32.

    NO NO NO !

    Stop sending money to these countries, it only lines the pockets of corrupt Politicians and Officials.

  • Comment number 33.

    For all those people who think that aid does not work: I have been to Africa many times, and you are wrong.

    Yes, there are corrupt officials who get their hands on more of the aid than they should. And there are still the faces of starving children that we see on TV. And there is still a lot of poverty and injustice and disease.

    But (unlike two decades or so ago) there are also hundreds of millions of Africans who do have enough to eat, who do send their children to school, and who do have access to clean water and health care. And whose children have more opportunities in life than their parents ever had. And their numbers are on the increase. You may not see them on TV, but that doesn't mean they are not there! We are winning the battle against poverty and hunger in Africa. Let’s not give up now!

  • Comment number 34.

    African countries need to be politically stable before aid will help.

    Aid needs to be invested in long-term programmes to make the people self-sufficient and to stop the population explosion. But that will only work if a country is politically stable enough to make sure the money goes to the right places and the projects they start are seen through over the long term.

  • Comment number 35.

    In all other aspects of life, nature is allowed to take it's course, but not with humans. People should not be allowed to breed uncontrollably and then in times of famine expect the world to get out it's cheque book.
    Sad as it may be, if humans can't control their populations, they should be allowed to go the way of the animals, that's how nature intended it to be.

  • Comment number 36.

    Africa needs good government and leaders who can manage the her vast resources, and not aid from rich countries. With good leadership, majority of Africa's problems will be a thing of the past and the continent will sing a new song.There is nothing like being the host than an invited guest. This is because a person invited to join the table cannot be satisfied with what is placed before him on the table. We must learn to use our resources for the good of our people. This way, wars, ethnic violence and the factors that create and keep sustaining such organizations as Somalia Pirates will be reduced.

  • Comment number 37.

    Foreign Aid alone has solved nothing in the past 50 years. Until the main reasons for poverty in Africa (Corruption, over population, exploitation, tribal warfare) are addressed and solved, no amount of aid will end poverty.

  • Comment number 38.

    The way the world works will have to change drastically if any progress is to be made in Africa.

  • Comment number 39.

    His Tonyness could help out by taking a public stance against the archaic views of his beloved Catholic Church when it come to contraception.

  • Comment number 40.

    New debate and the first comment hits the nail on the head.
    Where there is money, anywhere in the world, corruption will follow. However, aid will NOT be the answer, until there is considerably more assurance that it goes to the people who need it, and it is used appropriately. Otherwise, you might as well just ship over the weaponry, armoured limousines, nice houses, and well looked after bureaucrats directly...cuts out all the effort taken to funnel money into these areas anyhow....

  • Comment number 41.

    No it is not, Africa needs to learn to stand on its own two feet and stop looking to other countries for handouts because they have trouble running their own affairs. The main problem is that corruption is endemic almost a way of life, and in many countries there is not much will to find out which crops are best suited to the land and climate they have because its much easier to rob, destroy and get hold of billions of dollars of handouts. Africa needs to control its population and get a grip when it comes to producing food.

  • Comment number 42.

    Money aid must not be given to any African country as the funds just go and no improvement is made. Aid must be in the form of supplying professional people to work and establish farming areas that will give the local people work. Farms must be self contained with housing, clinics, schools, creches et and run with reliable qualified people and also with people to educate the population and help get them self supporting. These farms must always be owned by the country giving aid because as soon as it is handed over it just goes to waste and bad management all over again and all the hard work is just undone. Also no improvement will take place while there is war factions taking place and military operations making life dangerous for aid workers. Its just a fruitless exercise then. 90% of money aid is just misused and after many years no improvement. These people need to know the value of profitable farming not just their small local hut and veggies to sustain one or two people. Maybe the Kubots like they do in Israel.

  • Comment number 43.

    Unfortunately for Mr. Blair after 13 years of a Labour Government we cannot currently help ourselves never mind Africa, such is the legacy of his financial incompetence.

    Add to this the fact that despite receiving trillions of pounds / dollars in aid over the past forty years Africa is still a desparate place, it proves that financial aid does nothing in the medium and short term due to corruption.

    If anything I believe the Government needs to rethink its stance on ring-fencing the current aid budget.

  • Comment number 44.

    For once I agree with Blair, aid is vital and more of it, but I also agree with those who say the Aid must reach the mouths and homes of those who NEED it and not greedy corrupt leaders. Then again we have Greed and corruption at home where the needs of the poor are being cut while billions go to those who dont need it. Maybe this government have learned something from those corrupt leaders in Africa!

  • Comment number 45.

    It's a bit rich for B'liar - a war criminal to blather about additional aid - most ends up in a Swiss bank account of some tin-pot dictator. B'liar is responsible for an ILLEGAL war. His religion - through manic obections to contraception is responsible for most of the abject misery as a result of over population - so B'liar if you want money to go to Africa - send your own! Oh yes, perhaps your mate popey might like to chip is as well!

  • Comment number 46.

    "Africa needs billions more in aid"

    well why dont we do the obvious and ask for the African leader's swiss bank account numbers?
    That way we can transfer the money straight to the accounts and save the leaders the bother of stealing it when it arrives in their countries.

    Until the graft and corruption is ended, Africa will always stay where it is now

  • Comment number 47.

    When the colonial powers pulled out of Africa, each Country was left with a democratic government and a sustainable economy.

    In the half century or so since, most African states, as well as those in the middle and far east, have proved incapable of running their own affairs.

    Overpopulation, often encouraged by certain religions, combined with endemic corruption, nepotism and tribalism, have ensured that any step forward is followed by at least one step back.

    Disease control e.g. of Aids, is hindered by religious teachings and ignorant pronouncements of leaders as well as by lack of medical facilities and the attraction of medical graduates to better paid jobs in the western health services rather than bettering care in their home Country.

    So increased aid is not the answer, it needs a whole culture shift and focus on self-help instead of hand-outs.

  • Comment number 48.

    At 11:39am on 13 Sep 2010, Reasoned Rants wrote:
    I've never given to any African aid campaigns, and I never will, until it can be proved to me beyond doubt that:-

    1. The money will go to the people who need it, not their corrupt rulers

    2. The catholic church has ceased all its anti-condom propaganda in Africa.

    Call me foolish if you like, but I have given to African aid campaigns, always without conditions, but then there have been times in my own life when I have been given unconditional help when it was sorely needed. I call it pay back time.

  • Comment number 49.

    DoleBoy wrote:
    Capitalism is theft.

    Maybe so but Socialism is Slavery...

  • Comment number 50.

    No, No more aid should be given to Africa. A country's greatest resource is its people. Millions of the most motivated, intelligent and able are leaving the continent to find work in Europe and elsewhere. The European Union welcomes them with open arms. Politicians tell us they provide the skills we need for our economy to grow. But either dont care or are ignorant of the impact this has had on their countries of origin. The reality is they are initially cheaper to employ and lower the cost base of labour, making us more competetive in a global economy.
    Can anyone imagine what our country would be like if the doctors, nurses and engineers etc all upped sticks and decided to seek a better life in Africa? It wouldnt be long before we were holding out our begging bowls.
    Aid isnt the answer, its at best patronising at worst coupled with immigration its perpetuating the problem.

  • Comment number 51.

    "Aid only helps the so called charitys? read a few of they fiscal reports' on line, to see what I am saying, How much do the directors of the Big ones, house -hold names, take in admin costs'???? This should be stopped its been going on for years, and fact finding tours FREEbies' Hols for the wife and kids??? How much do the real needed people get? Africa is a very big country with many ways for our money to end up in the wrong pockets or swiss bank accounts? They are a few good people from the west, who have helped the lives of some African people, but far too little Aid gets to the right ones from the Big so called Charitys. About time they were disbanded,

  • Comment number 52.

    I may be the only person on the site to say so, but actually aid CAN be effective in Africa. Granted, it isn't always, and a fair amount of money (in the past, but also today) is wasted on initiatives that have little impact for the poorest. Having said that, corruption isn't nearly as much of a problem in many countries as it's made out to be, and the numbers of states with non-corrupt leadership (Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania to name a few) is growing all the time.

    Rather than lambasting all aid, isn't it about time we looked at the issue in a more measured way and thought about what can be 'good' aid and what 'bad'? Obvious examples of 'bad' aid include the use of aid money to buy food grown in the US/EU for export to developing countries (rice is a big one) - since most countries do actually produce enough food, it's just that the poorest sometimes lack access to it because it costs too much. In situations of famine, much better to support the local economy by sourcing food aid locally.

    'Good' aid is aid given to countries in line with their own priorities and in ways that work. Giving money is not necessarily a bad thing - one example - much of Rwanda's education budget is paid for by DFID (the UK gvernment's development agency). Money given in 2007/2008 paid for a large number of teacher salaries which otherwise the government of Rwanda couldn;t have afforded. That meant more children went to school and got the education they need to get themselves out of poverty. Surely that's a good thing?

    As for overpopulation. Do people in Africa have large families? Yes. Any guesses as to why? Mostly it's because even today a parent who has 5 children can expect at least one to die in infancy. In countries with high rates of malaria, or war, that goes up. So people have large families as 'insurance' - even if one or two die, I'll still have some. As health improves, the number of children dying in infancy goes down, but it takes a while for families to 'catch on' that they no longer need that 'insurance'.

    If you're interested in aid effectiveness - read this:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    It's a report written by DFID on the subject. Sorry for the lecture, but I do think it's time to move on from simplistic arguments about aid that are seemingly not very well informed - regardless of whether it's Tony Blair or anyone else calling for more aid. Not only is helping people out of poverty a moral obligation, it's in our own interests too - an economically strong Africa will have a positive impact on the global economy.

  • Comment number 53.

    "Do not hand the poor a fish on the plate, instead teach them how to fish."

    Well that no longer works now the African Governments rent out their surrounding sea coasts to Western Fisheries who camp far out to sea and deplete the fish stocks to the point where the natives in their smaller boats closer to shore have nothing left to fish. If Africa does have any resources, you can be sure they're not being exploited by the Africans. Where do diamonds come from? You don't see diamonds making the African's rich though do you? Westerners are happy to take Africa's resources, but we won't have the African immigrants we impoverish as a result.

  • Comment number 54.

    Aid is not the answer - birth control is.

    Get the religious leaders who are stopping birth control programmes out of the continent and start educating.

  • Comment number 55.

    Since the African nations took control of their own government they have gone from bad to worse. They have built astronomically high debts, got involved in countless wars and only their leaders have prospered.
    Aid has been heaped upon them year after year but currupt politicians have made sure it didn't reach those in most need.
    My heart bleeds for those in dire straits but how much longer can the rest of the world prop up the African countries in this way. Emergency aid is another matter all together - our response to humanitarian suffering is essential but I doubt if any amount of money thrown at African problems will change a thing.

  • Comment number 56.

    Africa does not lack money or resources. In raw materials it is the richest continent in the world.

    All Africa needs is to get its act together.

  • Comment number 57.

    How ironic that just when this country is about to plunge millions into poverty as a direct consequence of the incompetence of Bliar and Broon that Bliars pet project asks for billions more for Africa.....

    More proof, if it were needed, that the man is completely out of touch with reality.

    40 posts in and no one has used the old cliche 'charity begins at home', lets sort this countries problems first - then when we have done that, if we have anything left over we can fund some of our unemployed to go to Africa and assist by providing their skills rather than lining the pockets of the corrupt.

  • Comment number 58.

    Aid is part of the problem rather than the solution.
    At one time drought, famine, child mortality and diesese would come to many parts of the world and thousands would die. In response people would breed to take advantage of the good time and survive depopulation in the bad times.
    Now we have negated the depopulation cycle without any decrease in breeding, when the bad times come, instead of thousands facing death we have millions.
    Population control to accommodate natural recourses has often been a consideration, but is always dismissed as being a violation of human rights. In doing so the balance of population over resources has tipped into a position where aid is needed even in the good years, and in bad years the aid services are overwhelmed.
    Unless balance is restored through (compulsory?) birth control (as in China) then it is a problem that not only will never go away, but will get worse and see millions suffer.
    Maybe aid should come with a "price".
    Ask me whether I'd rather be sterilized or starve, I'd chose to eat.

  • Comment number 59.

    Endless aid is never the answer.
    Maybe I'm being a bit harsh here, but if life is unsustainable, then either let the people move somewhere else or let them die, much like nature intended.

  • Comment number 60.

    Africa needs aid to stop people starving from time to time but more than that it needs good government and a level playing field in trade.

  • Comment number 61.

    No, it isn't.

    Free and fair trade certainly are, though.
    But for the rest of it, the problems seem to stem from overpopulation, government corruption, intolerance, racism (look at the genocides over there...)

    The thing I really can't understand is why they produce so many children they obviously can't feed.

    Also, when the developed and developing world has templates to follow. They can learn from the developed world's many successes - and our very many mistakes. The west had to make things up as it went along. Africa can very easily learn from us and countries such as Japan which learnt from us before and now surpass us.

    We should just leave Africa to get on with it. No aid. No immigrants or asylum seekers. Just free and fair trade.

  • Comment number 62.

    Blair has no right to be insinuating that we should be shelling out billions more to Africa. We are in major recession and need to get our own house in order before trying to repair others.
    Giving money to African nations only boosts the economy of Switzerland as that is where the corrupt leaders of the various African nations buy their houses and deposit their stolen money.
    I am sorry to say this but I worked in Zimbabwe in the 80s and saw first hand the behaviour of Mugabe.
    Sorry Tony if you want to be remembered as a saint dip into your own pocket.

  • Comment number 63.

    When aid is targeted effectively it can reduce poverty. over the past decade we've seen great results. Free healthcare in rural zambia, free healthcare for mothers and babies in Sierra Leone, millions more people receiving ARV drugs for HIV treatment.

    Not all aid is perfect and there are still massive improvements that can be made but aid can (and does) change lives. I see keep to our aid commitments - it's less than 0.7% of our total budget

  • Comment number 64.

    Not entirely. Fairness in general would spread the worlds wealth a little better enabling all to have a reasonable standard of living. I mean, even in the UK wealth is very poorly spread, there are children living in poverty here while people who have had a couple of lucky gambles or made the right friends at school (such as the next boss of Barclays) earn more a week than whole families will earn in a lifetime. There is no need for such a split - its worse now than in Victorian England - surely if it continues like this there can only be one outcome - revolution...?

  • Comment number 65.

    Monitory aid is not the answer, population control and aid to individuals in the form of machinery and knowledge to encourage commerce and trade and sorting out of corrupt leaders is the only way

  • Comment number 66.

    <rant> it is always so convenient to forget that when we say 'Africa' we're talking about a continent (roughly 123 times the size of the UK) comprising 50-odd nation states, each with their own specific population and economical profile; the economies of, say, Liberia and South Africa, are not really comparable. Fugl5 (#38) is 'on the money' though: "The way the world works will have to change drastically if any progress is to be made in Africa." </rant>

  • Comment number 67.

    Aid is an investment - an investment in people and community. Having travelled widely in Africa and some in India I have met many people who are living in poverty. 99% of people in poverty are in that situation because of other people's choices and decisions rather than their own.

    Consider the child who can't go to school because government schools charge fees because the government doesn't have adequate funds because the companies don't pay enough taxes because the corporations and western governments have pushed the washington consencus.

    Of course the right winge-ers will say 'but their parents should pay for their health, and education' and the rest of it, but of course they are locked into poverty because we won't give a good (fair) price for their goods- corn from africa competing with one of the most heavily subsidised industries in America. But oh no- the right winge-ers won't give that up will they?

    If we invest in those people now we can help their education, ensure that everyone has the opportunity to undertake decent work and eventually, hopefully not need to give aid in the future.

  • Comment number 68.

    More aid , more children, more starvation. Address the population explosion and the famines will not happen.Giving money to the problem makes the situation worse and the money vanishes into the pockets of corrupt politicians and professional aid organisers.

  • Comment number 69.

    I personally think Africa would be better off if the Western countries stopped interferring.

    It is obvious that US and UK intervention through aid and support has made matters worse. Remember Britain Supported Mugabe's rise to power. Who has supplied these countires with guns ?

    How about letting the African people develop at thier own rate instead of placing our western beliefs on them.

    The aid just goes to the corrupt politicians and rich minority anyway.

  • Comment number 70.

    Maybe when the Blairs sell their numerous houses and millions made from Iraqi oil, they could donate the lot to Africa ?

  • Comment number 71.

    This is a very complicated question that most people simply can't understand.

    Africa needs billions in fair investment. Thats slightly different to 'aid'. If we give millions of tons of food to an African country all we do is put the local farmers out of business. It is far better to build them some better roads so the food can reach the markets and build some simple irrigation systems.

    Likewise there is no point giving medicine if there isn't the doctors to administer the medicine correctly. 'Free anti-HIV drugs' just means mis-used HIV drugs that encourage resistant strains of the disease to develop.

    Based on what they cost relative to the benefits they deliver I would suggest the simple best thing that can happen to an African country is to deploy the British army in it. We ended a civil war that had killed millions and lasted ten years in Sierra Leonne in weeks. No-one can build roads, bridges and wells quicker or cheaper and setting up local clinics to treat the local kids has been British army policy for 50 years+

    Visit a country like Belize and you'll find few roads and bridges that WEREN'T built by the British army. Its why when we tried to give them independence there were anti-independence protests on the streets.

    Every £1 funding a battalion of Royal Engineers will generate more real benefit than £10 of cash given as 'aid'

  • Comment number 72.

    The only people who can save Africa are the Africans themselves. It's about time they put away the begging bowl and accept responsibility for themselves. Billions have been pumped into Africa with the corrupt and greedy pocketing it themselves.

    Mugabe is still blaming the British for Rhodesia's problems. They became self governed over 30 years ago! The British left them as 'The bread basket of Africa'. What has happened since?

    Add to that unprotected sex sprading AIDS like wildfire and people who can barely feed themselves having families of 5+ children and you're onto a no-win situation.

    Come on Africa! We can only help so much, you have to pull ate your end too!

  • Comment number 73.

    59. At 12:30pm on 13 Sep 2010, Anthony Rat wrote:
    Endless aid is never the answer.
    Maybe I'm being a bit harsh here, but if life is unsustainable, then either let the people move somewhere else or let them die, much like nature intended.

    But presumably not move to Britain? Thats never popular on HYS. Mother nature never intended for Robert Mugabe to trash his nations farming base or for endless rebel groups to carry out rape and mass murder. Most of Africa's problems are not natural. The entire continents population is less than 700 million people. China and India with a fraction of the useable land (most of china is mountain and desert) support far larger populations.

  • Comment number 74.

    Let's look after our own citizens first and if and only then there is any left over for others should we even think about giving it away elsewhere. It's what everyone else does. How can we give hundreds of millions annually ot countries like India and Pakistan who have nuclear weapons programmes? Africa may not have these yet but will lavish it on such extravagence if we gave them enough!

  • Comment number 75.

    If aid was the answer, all of Africa's problems would have been solved years ago given the amount of money that has been poured into those countries.

    The answer is to stop giving financial aid and to provide only practical items delivered to those who need them, not shipped to the capital and left for some 'agency' to distribute. The charities etc outside Africa who are providing these things should ensure that they are delivered to the people and not diverted to some government scheme that benefits instead of saving lives.

    On top of that, there needs to be a concerted effort to reduce the spread of AIDS and the rampant levels of childbirth. Controlling the population growth and dealing with the current health crisis by the provision of effective drugs and prevention programmes is the way forward, just pouring money into the continent has proved to be nothing but a waste.

  • Comment number 76.

    Unfortunately, the main problem is over population. We can only sustain sensible levels of population through aid, more should be done to maintain a managable level of people.

  • Comment number 77.

    Is aid the answer?
    It depends on what kind of aid you mean.
    I disagree with Tony Blair that Africa needs billions more dollars in aid. Dollars too easily lose their way, may not get there, or if they do get there slip too easily into the pockets of corruption.
    The really important statement is this:
    “The vast majority of people in the continent have yet to benefit from this economic success.”
    This demands transparency. Aid must be tracked from organization to recipient and fully accounted.
    But more so Africa needs infrastructure – roads & buildings. Building planning and design of structures must serve the people, not the ego of some despot. Africa needs planning so that money does not fly helter-skelter and get used for bribery.
    The UN has already warned of urban decay in some of Africa's major towns, compounded by the high urbanization rates.
    Steve Oundo, the Architectural Association of Kenya Chairman: "The major problem we have in many African cities like Nairobi and Mombasa is that planning has been taking place after development instead of the reverse."
    In Kenya, the building code seems to correspond very highly to the UK Building Code of the 1930s, and it shoudl because Kenya adopted it after independence. Yet In Kenya, the number of people living in urban areas has increased by 26% from 10M in 1999 to 12.5M in 2009. Mairura Omwenga Secretary of the Architectural Association of Kenya: “The majority of cities in Africa, are of poor standard because governments have failed to plan them properly."
    Nairobi has no master plan.
    Solution: The National Construction Authority Bill is to be tabled in Parliament before the end of the year. According to Ministry's Works Secretary, Dr Gideon Mulyungi, the Bill will inject professionalism in the sector by registering and regulating contractors.
    (Shoddy contractors have made a bundle, colluding with unscrupulous public officials to win tenders, which they have no idea how to handle).
    The Bill, has already received support from not jsut Kenya, but other African countries, who hopefully will follow suit.
    All these issues and many more will be discussed at the forthcoming International Society of Regional Planners (ISOCARP) meeting to be held in Nairobi between the 19th and 23rd of this month. Professionals from more than 80 countries will share experiences and make recommendations to government on transforming Africa's urban centres into sustainable cities.
    ISOCARP has its own website” ISOCARP.ORG/

  • Comment number 78.

    My question would be is what happened to the billions that were donated previously? What's the adage that goes "Give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime".

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    The Bloke #61.

    have you actually given this any thought at all?

    "..(look at the genocides over there...)"

    there's usually an economic reason for those, for instance, Rwanda (Hutus vs Tutis) got us access to the Coltran needed to sell cheap mobile phones and LCD TVs, Sudan (north vs south) is all about oil.

    "The thing I really can't understand is why they produce so many children they obviously can't feed."

    children are the 'pension plan' (who else but your own family will look after you when you're getting old?) and child mortality is much higher than in the west.

    to reduce family size, they'd have to have better health care and higher (average) incomes.

  • Comment number 81.

    They need aid because they are not allowed to sell their crops in europe, and let them kick out companies exploiting them, rather than supporting these corrupt western companies who inturn corrput officials in these poor countries, and if these poor countries dont obey the UK and US will send in troops and remove democracy in favour of cheap offical who will allow the exploitation to continue! its not in the west interests to allow Africa to compete in the grain markets and thats why they are poor and corrupt, due to years and years of exploitation by europe!!!! and vice versa for SOuth America and the US.

  • Comment number 82.

    Education is absolutely the key. Every time I have been to Africa I have been hugely impressed by the dedication of the people to improve their education and that of their children. The problem is that much of this education is theoretical book learning, when at the moment what Africa would appear to need is predominately practical education that is applicable to everyday lives. It's all very well learning to program a computer or to become a lawyer, but what seems to get overlooked is the simple fact that Africa is still largely a subsistence farming society, and so there is still a basic need for people to be taught new and effective farming techniques, water & soil conservation, stock management etc. Educate the people in practical skills so that they can feed themselves, their community and their country, then once this is in place you can start educating the people further from a position of stability.

    At the same, if the West is to continue forcing democracy on nations then there needs to be education in democracy so that people make an educated decision when they cast their vote. At the moment too many simply vote for the ex freedom fighter that they feel beholden to, or the candidate from their tribe or the person that their tribal chief told them to vote for. Educate the people that their vote counts and that they can make a difference, and that they don't have to put up with corruption and nepotism at all levels through society. If the people won't stand for it then the leaders will eventually have to change their tune no matter how many guns they have.

  • Comment number 83.

    "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime". whilst its all very good shipping out aid to people who urgently need it (be it that they havent recieved it yet) this wont do anything for the long term. Perhaps Ironic Tony B could have his war money on helping set up and train locao businesses in the areas where it is most needed, instead of involving us in war that was wrong. (P.S Tony, you'll never escape that).

    AS FOR

    @62. At 12:33pm on 13 Sep 2010, jalfreizi wrote:
    Blair has no right to be insinuating that we should be shelling out billions more to Africa. We are in major recession and need to get our own house in order before trying to repair others.

    Have you seen a "house" in africa? they are normally poorly made straw huts with no runnig water, electricity or pretty much any form of utility. So your comment about us fixing our housing is ignorant to say the least. Perhaps you should wake up and smell the cement? or lack of it, in this case

  • Comment number 84.

    24. At 11:39am on 13 Sep 2010, Reasoned Rants wrote:
    I've never given to any African aid campaigns, and I never will, until it can be proved to me beyond doubt that:-

    1. The money will go to the people who need it, not their corrupt rulers

    2. The catholic church has ceased all its anti-condom propaganda in Africa.

    So your distain for the Catholic Church means you'll happily sit there while thousands die of starvation and violence through drought and tyranny.

    Wow! Aren't you just the nicest person? Has to be the most appalling statement I have ever heard...

    Oh! And before you start blaming Catholocism for the ills of Africa, perhaps you need to take a look, a better look at the many factors that have caused the issues in africa...

  • Comment number 85.

    Take a look at a population graph for somewhere like Ethiopia to see the real problem. You can barely detect the dip from the massive famines of the 1980's. Until Africa can control its own population almost any aid will only lead to population growth in an uncontrollable cycle

  • Comment number 86.

    There is no point in sending cash aid to Africa until the issue of birth control is resolved.

    If you have a family scratching in the dirt for food, of course they are going to struggle with 7 children.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    Regardless of whether Africa needs aid or not, in the light of the mess Tony Blair and his party have left this cuntry in means he has no right whatever to suggest that further public money is spent.

    He isn't in power any more. Please will someone let him know.

    Of cours, if they had left the country in a much stronger financial position, we probably could have sent more aid, whether it really is the right thing to do or not. Perhaps he would like to think on that.

  • Comment number 89.

    Throwing good money after bad is not the way. Giving money only buys a few lear jets for the top chiefs and medicine men. Close the border with Europe and let them sort it out by themselves, unless the want to buy some arms from us.

  • Comment number 90.

    Billions has been given to Africa. Where has it gone? Into the pockets of the leaders. Western governments have poured this money into these countries without any thought as to where it is going.

    Yes, I feel sorry for the people who are suffering. But the time has to come when we say, enough!

  • Comment number 91.

    Few are really saying it bluntly, so I will.

    In times of plenty, give plenty. When times are hard, give less. Basic simple fact of life.

    We in England are looking at the prospect of as many as a million more people being made unemployed over the next few years. At risk of offending all those Oxfammers, tin shakers and starving people round the world, regretfully, we have not got enough money to give you anything at the moment.

    Not only that, but despite the assurances from the aid agencies, I do not believe that the aid gets to the people who need it. I don't believe a single word of these reassurances because if we knew the truth, everyone would stop giving. As soon as the cameras have gone, the corrupt army moves in and confiscates it all. The poor peasant has to then find the money to buy back the food and consumables that were freely given by us in the west.

    To add insult to injury, the areas in most need also seem to spawn the greatest number of people willing to blow themselves up to kill innocents. Why should I fund that?

    So, I do not want a single penny of my taxes spent overseas as aid. Not at least until we in England are financially more secure.

    I am aware that I appear completely heartless, but other people's opinions does not keep me awake at night. Worrying about keeping my job and providing for my family, would. That is my priority, not filling Swiss bank accounts of corrupt dictators.

    If you want to give to charity, there are plenty of worthy causes that benefit our people. Help for Heroes, Help the Aged, your local childrens hospice, MacMillans and Cancer Research. You KNOW where your money is going.

  • Comment number 92.

    The best way to deal with the African issue is for wealthy countries to adopt poorer African countries and oversee their complete reconstruction. For instance, their farming, medical provision, education, government, banking, industry. Rather than sending financial dribs and drabs to various countries, each nation would put all their efforts into one poor nation.

    Exchange programs would be far more beneficial having larger numbers of people training in one developed country in various fields, with larger numbers of the developed nation’s people working in various fields in the poorer country. The other benefit would be strong ties with a western nation.

    Whilst some may say this is softly, softly colonialism. I really don't see a faster more effective way of aiding those in Africa. If you are worried about the possibility of colonialism then you could have the UN acting as an mediatory body ensuring that there is nothing underhand going on and that there is no exploitation.

    Its a rough idea, but I think a good one.

  • Comment number 93.

    67. At 12:40pm on 13 Sep 2010, Will_Tucker wrote:
    Aid is an investment - an investment in people and community.


    An investment has a return for the investor.

    Aid is a gift made by someone, usually because they are made to feel guilty for the geographical accident of the location of their birth.

    Stop trying to dress it up in economic terms.

  • Comment number 94.

    Africa does not need aid as urgently as good governance.

    The situation there will not improve as long as the first world refuses to acknowledge this fact due to fears of accusations of racism.

    Africans themselves need to drag themselves out of the state of ex-colonial victimhood which they have occupied for some decades, and recognise that the solution to their problems lies in their own hands, not in the apportioning of blame for their condition.

  • Comment number 95.

    Contrary what most people think, aid is not charity, but basically development money given with the aim of opening up Africa for even more exploitation.

    Hence why those whom need to charity the most rarely receive it from their leaders.

    Aid is just neo-colonialism wrapped up in the mystique of charity in order to dupe the people of the West whose tax money is used to pay for it.

    Wisen up, people.

  • Comment number 96.

    We have ABSOLUTELY NO obligations to Africa. What we have contributed so far is a reflection of past relationships to colonial Africa. All African leaders or governments think intrinsically that Africa is for black or Arab people. White people, according to Africans, should not be there. Africa should be allowed to fend for itself. This pitiable annual call to donate is now self-perpetuating.These self-appointed do-gooders and "philanthropists" should literally get a life of their own. Being seen to be a "holier than thou high moral ground individual" seems to be so important to those who have failed to make their mark in society in a way they would have wished.

  • Comment number 97.

    Nothing will help Africa until corruption is stamped out. Without meaning any disrespect to the people there, I am fed up to the back teeth with being ear-bashed about Aid to Africa and, these days, I refuse to give a single penny. They've been having aid for decades and still people are hungry, without homes and without work. The money has been siphoned off by all the fat cats. And certainly anything Blair says should be treated with contempt. Of course he wants more aid for Africa, because his cronies are still looking for more money to fund their lavish lifestyles. To hell with the lot of them. It's a con to carry on shifting wealth from richer countries, especially Europe, until it is all concentrated in the hands of a select few. Africa....the biggest black hole ever.

  • Comment number 98.

    1st, Fair Trade is an attrocious deceitful affliction of growing attrocity propagated by the World Bank and its private banking partners, which I or anyone with half a braincell could factually prove in a humane court of law.

    This is FACTUALLY proveable by the extraction and export of basic water resources from a continent that has a history and growing reality of a worsening problem which is attrociously exasperated by the World Bank its private banking/finanical partners and many foreign businesses.

    Just a couple of FACTUAL instances.

    It takes around 120 litres of water to produce just ONE banana, which is then exported.

    It also take attrociously high amounts of water to produce just a single rose, which are exported to UK and elsewhere.

    Africas precious and little water resources are being systematically destroyed/damaged/abused by non African nations, of which such attrociousness is part of the World Banks forced policys to pay for African nations debts.

    Africas debts are actually VERY VERY profitable, just because some may not get paid off by African nations does NOT mean that they have resulted in financial loss to lenders and in many many instances have resulted in foreign businesses gaining and taking over WATER RIGHTS, which FACTUALLY and CYNICALLY is commonly known as " BLUE OIL", specifically because so much money is made from it.

    Most people in UK and elsewhere are under the impression that water access pipes etc have just sprouted up all over the African continent.

    What MOST people are ignorant about is the FACT that so many require a KEY to enable access to the water. The key is of course purchased, at cost/amounts which so many people can little afford thus the MAIN and CENTRAL reason why so many people revert to drinking HIGHLY polluted river/stream and lake water, thus maintaining an ATTROCIOUSLY HIGH LEVEL OF DISEASES of which put even GREATER burdon upon what little resources African nations have for dealing with such horrendous/serious health problems.

    I watched a programm on the Community channel last night, I think the BBC were involved in making parts or all of the programm as I saw the BBC motif on parts. It was an education.

    Water is in such short supply and so expensive that even if/when parents or parent works, they leave their young children, even babys, at home with NO WATER access during the day, for the duration of the day until they return, its NOT evil, its a necessity, one in which provides FOOD & water for these people and one in which western people can little appreciate or understand such necessity of life, or DEATH.

    In one instance, a single parent woman left her 2 daughters in their hut while she went to work, of course her young girls were locked in. During the course of the day, a fire started in the hut.

    There was a water pipe/tap nearby, which is key operated and which access is denied without purchase of a key, which enables provision of a few litres of water.

    The crux of the matter is that this womans neighbours could NOT AFFORD to put the fire out, even if they used ALL their keys which would mean they also had NO further access to water because they couldnt afford it. Hence, these 2 young girls, children, burnt to death.

    A bottle of Coco-cola in many places in Africa costs LESS than a bottle of water, Coco cola have of course gained water rights, as have French and Spanish and other international water companies and other international industrys.

    Africa, actually/factually, the world, is being systematically undermined and even destroyed by "vested interest" groups, whether greed and corrupt officials, greed and corrupt and IGNORANT people in so many walks of life, religions and fantasy/fictional theological beliefs, politicians and idealistic regressive/damaging beliefs/policys, banks/financiers/gamblers, international conglomerate businesses, international entitys/bodys such as World Bank and UN who's policys are so often far far distant from humane decency and morality/ethical.

    Much of the aid is distributed in Africa via religions, who basically use their presence to inflict further fantasy/fictional beliefs and discriminatory reasoning upon nations which ultimately do not EVER need such consequential resultant attrocity inflicted upon them.

    In all this, Africans and so many others around the world have to find their way, have to attempt to live and exist within the confussion of messages and inflictions of religions/corruption and international banks/businesses etc. Just AFFORDING daily need for water and the fact that it is so unaffordable to so many, while international businesses export the best of it via "FAIR TRADE" produce, is an attrocity NO LESS as morally/ethically bad as that which the Nazi Germany machine inflicted and attempted to inflict upon the world.

    Just looking at the comments on this HYS subject, FACTUALLY, the levels of ignorance and biased discrimination are an horrific insight into the low levels of humanity and understanding of the world.

    The greed and corruption in Africa is basically just a handy tool for internationalism to extract as much as it can and much of the corruption is actually instigated by internationalism attaining those in position of power to enable it to gain that which it wants, no less so than same in UK or elsewhere around the world.

  • Comment number 99.

    Unfortunately the world cannot sustain a population that is likely to almost double in the next 50 years, there are finite levels of water, agricultural land, oil, gas etc... Past evidence has shown that aid to Africa in many instances encourages further population growth. Therefore to a large extent, giving aid today will cause starvation on a larger scale in the future (i.e. there will be more mouths to feed in future). What needs to be focussed on is incentivising and encouraging family planning.

  • Comment number 100.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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