The effectiveness of foreign aid on African states is still broadly debated. Social and economic advancement has been achieved to some extent, while some African nations remain haunted with internal conflicts and poverty. The genesis of the first help can be traced back to the Marshall Plan that was introduced for growth and reconstruction purpose of Europe. Foreign aid began in the 1950s in Africa when the states managed to declare autonomy from the foreign colonies. Due to civil war, poverty, drought, and natural resource mismanagement, numerous African countries are still fragile despite the aid.
Foreign aid is classified as assistance that is offered to a state that would not have been given through normal market procedures. The United Nations (UN) cautions that famine situations may spread (Margesson et al., 2012). Therefore, the UN objectives lie in providing aid to the poor. Foreign aid is intended to motivate low-income nations to grow in regards to social justice, social prosperity, economic development, and the rule of law. The outsiders, particularly the Western countries, are viewed as active participants that are committed to rebuilding African economic and social growth due to the West’s colonial legacy in Africa. The influence from the West assumes such arrangements as neoliberalism, national sovereignty, investment, debt, trade, the environment, health research, faith-centered policies, and aid. Assistance in Africa is facilitated and coordinated through financial and development institutions that include the World Bank, African Development Bank (ADB), Development Assistance Committee (DAC), and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Such aid, facilitated by these establishments, includes humanitarian assistance and development aid (Büthe, Major, & De Mello e Souza, 2012). The following essay seeks to examine the effectiveness of humanitarian aid in Africa by looking at the factors that impede its implementation.
Humanitarian aid is also referred to as emergency aid (Herta, 2013a). Such a support is delivered when a state experiences natural calamities like flooding, earthquakes, tsunami, and famine among others. The international community responds instantly in this case to offer some quick and essential support, including shelters, nourishment, and medicines, to the impacted individuals. Africa is best defined with this sort of assistance as they typically encounter more famines than the other regions of the world.
Humanitarian aid is usually neutral and not linked to political circumstances or the administration of any nation (Herta, 2013a). Therefore, in Africa, the humanitarian assistance is the fastest growing type of help since human-made, and natural calamities increase daily. In addition, this sort of support goes to both the state and non-state establishments that work on assisting the affected people or regions. In Africa, the best-known NGOs in offering humanitarian aid include Red Cross, Oxfam, Catholic Relief Service, World Vision, and Care. They are operate on the matters related to famine and drought.
Humanitarian Aid Effectiveness in Africa
The effectiveness of humanitarian aid in Africa hangs precariously on a line since in as much the assistance is essential, it does not fully reach its intended purpose. On a positive note, humanitarian aid given to poor African countries enables them to receive benefits by being capable of increasing spending on education, healthcare, and developing infrastructure. Nonetheless, such assistance given relentlessly makes the African states very dependent on their donors. As such, states can be monopolized and their administrations manipulated. When such happens, the troubled nations can lose their autonomy. Therefore, the effectiveness of humanitarian aid in Africa does not meet the required standards because of the ensuing factors that reveal that the assistance is not usually given exclusively by need and impaired effectiveness.
Using Humanitarian Aid to Pursue Political Objectives
The relegation of humanitarian aid to geopolitics is not a new phenomenon. Since the Cold War era, philanthropic support was often delivered because it advanced the civil and ideological interests and worries of the contributor states (Collins, 2015). This practice persisted in the post-Cold War era. Ethiopia, for example, was hit by a severe famine in the mid-1980s, but main contributors were unwilling to offer assistance owing to its ideological relations with the Marxist Soviet Union.
Civil considerations of donors suggest that generous assistance is not typically expended solely based on acknowledged wants. Geopolitical concerns have similarly influenced the humanitarian aid to Liberia mostly from 1999 after its suspected associations with Al Qaeda. By July 2002, UN organizations in Liberia had received merely 3.9 million of the 15 million they had demanded as contrasted to $58.8 million for Sierra Leone and $37.7 million for Guinea respectively during the similar era (Herta, 2013a). The main feature behind moderate amounts of assistance is the volunteer aspect of aid giving. Humanitarian aid is founded on exclusively voluntary donations and as such, contributors are inclined to base their choices on self-interests and urgencies.
Employing Humanitarian Assistance as a Sanctuary for Administrative Inaction
Skirmishes in Africa are characterized by unimaginable cruelty and spite against noncombatants, ailments, and starvation. Thus, immense flows of refugees within and outside the affected regions are similarly interactive features. The increase in multifaceted humanitarian disasters has brought great humanitarian requirements at the time when there is reduced attention by the global community to arbitrate in the independent nations' internal skirmishes. Thus, the form and level of intercession a state in emergency acquires in Africa are mostly determined by how tactical that nation is to powerful countries.
In the countries with particular interest to Western countries, armed humanitarian intercessions are conducted to lessen the effect and avert further intensification of hostilities (Whittall, 2015). In less considered nations, contributors merely provide assistance as an alternative for civil inaction. Delivery of humanitarian aid was something that motivated and legitimized global political indecisiveness in states like Rwanda, Sudan, and the DRC. This pattern has been repeated in Darfur, where humanitarianism remains to function as a replacement for a failure by the global community to employ their influence to wield financial and political pressure on the Sudan administration concerning social privileges violations in the region.
Using Humanitarian Aid to Advance Economic Interests
From a humanitarian perception, assistance is given to reacting to humanitarian requirements of inhabitants affected by various disasters, but in reality, help is not consistently predisposed by humanitarian contemplation only (Collins, 2015). It is similarly determined and molded among others by commercial interests of contributors. Thus, humanitarian assistance is not always upright. In giving help to African nations, the Western administrations have more frequently estimated their interest above charitable interests of the beneficiary states by tying aid that was intended to support unfortunate countries. The adverse effect of tying aid to definite conditionality is that it lessens the efficacy of assistance. For example, the commercial interests of contributors have been accountable for the exaggerated value of tied help. The donors’ demands that aid be used exclusively for the procurement of goods and amenities (comprising mechanical support and consultancy facilities) originating from contributing nations has frequently led to assistance being expended on goods and amenities that are not of importance to the receiving state (Attinà, 2015). Extreme breach of commercial or administrative reasons is one of the principal grounds of aid’s futility mostly when the contributor is more concerned with self-gain, and then, assistance can give a pitiable return.
Using Humanitarian Aid to Further Military Objectives
The usage of charitable support to further military objectives in operations in the DRC Congo, Libya, and Darfur reveals the link between geopolitical motives and humanitarian assistance. In all three cases, the intervening forces carried out a military campaign while at the same time providing humanitarian aid to war-affected populations. After invasions, NGOs were recruited to assist war-affected civilians. These examples show how humanitarian aid is increasingly skewed regarding security and foreign policy instead of legitimate humanitarian grounds (Herta, 2013b).
For a long time, philanthropic groups have enjoyed the principal duty of defining humanitarian requirements and rendering aid. Nevertheless, these obligations change aid in the nations that are of vital importance to dominant countries. The amount of support and the rate, at which the donors respond to the conflicts in Africa, signify the geopolitical importance of these states to their donors. In the context of providing humanitarian assistance, the involvement of national and multinational armed forces in counterinsurgency has contradicted and undermined the guiding humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality (Price, 2014). The changing humanitarian roles are likely to compromise the objectives of fighting poverty and shift international attention away from achieving intended goals.
Using Humanitarian Aid to Advance Western Liberal Ideas and Values
Attempts are made to use support to influence the change in behaviors and attitudes in aid recipient countries of Africa. Defenders of human safety concur that humanitarian aid should be utilized to modify struggles, reduce brutality, and set a platform for progressive growth (Collins, 2015). The idea is to use humanitarian aid to change the internal practices of populations in developing countries such as human rights, the status of women and domestics economic policies that are seen as posing a threat to global security. Humanitarianism, in this case, serves the long-term state interests of wealthy nations.
Focus on integrated liberal development is viewed as a strategy by the West to exercise their authority and govern African countries. This approach manifests the pursuance of home and external methods of humanitarian states by philanthropic means. For example, the prerequisite of support is limited to the nations considered to be following the correct policies advocated by donors. The danger with this strategy lies in the fact that non-yielding nations may be omitted from help, which further validates that the new humanitarianism is likewise not independent of political forces.
The geopolitical welfare of contributors plays a significant part in shaping the results of humanitarian aid. African states that have continually acknowledged sufficient backing owing to their considered significance have succeeded to return to normality in a realistic time. At the same time, nations that have been abandoned, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, or where humanitarian help has substituted political action, such as in Darfur, the effect of military hostilities is still felt. In circumstances, where tactical interests drive contributor assistance choices, such donor government inclinations can unreasonably determine the conditions, in which charitable establishments implicate themselves (De Sousa & Freitas, 2012). The factor translates that the crises in the places of small significance to donors stay ineffectively covered.
Subordinating charitable aid to civil goals can result in greater anguish of individuals, particularly if help is abused and contributors or establishments fail to condemn the practice owing to concealed political reasons. When assistance is extremely politicized, it puts charitable societies in position when they do not know whose welfare to serve (Whittall, 2015). Similarly, there is an inclination for humanitarian aid reaction to being concentrated on high media profile calamities while abandoning lingering and low media profile emergencies like in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This factor undermines the effectiveness of humanitarian aid.
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In some instances, the advancement of contributors' political and financial interests might fundamentally clash with efforts to address scarcity and other fundamental grounds of humanitarian disasters. Numerous African states that are predisposed to military conflicts are poor, and they need external assistance to survive. Some contributor nations apply conditions that tie the receiver to procure goods solely from that donor, which slices the worth of aid to African recipient states because it forces them to purchase uncompetitive appraised imports from the wealthier countries. The same relates to in-kind help contributions, which may further weaken local market rates, plummeting more disadvantaged individuals into insufficiency. More often, the assistance models supported by donors have powered military conflicts in Africa where contributor nations are unwilling to interfere (Nickerson, 2013).
Foreign aid has had a significant impact in numerous countries that deserve it. The driving force behind foreign aid is to offer assistance to deserving states. As such, the support assumes the positions of economic and humanitarian aspects. For support to be effective, it has to enable the deserving states to rebuild and grow without other interferences. However, the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance in many African nations is questionable and it does not attain the required thresholds. Among the factors, affecting the efficiency of humanitarian aid is the use of humanitarian aid as a pretext for advancing military objectives. In addition, effectiveness is hampered by donor states using it as an excuse for political inaction. In other words, if a country is affiliated to donor countries, there is no interference with civil conflicts. In those countries, humanitarian assistance is only provided as a substitute for civil inaction. In addition, humanitarian aid is used to pursue political goals where a country's geopolitical standing determines the amount of assistance from donor states. Ideological differences have been used as a basis to deny aid to some countries in Africa. Humanitarian aid is used in Africa to develop Western liberal notions. Finally, humanitarian assistance is impacted when it is used as a tool for promoting economic interests since if a donor country has no interest in the affected country, humanitarian aid is limited. Moreover, for many states to get help, they are required to purchase uncompetitive products from the donor countries.