Tuesday, 6 June 2006

Stamp out malaria

I have problems with foreign aid programmes. This is in part, because I have travelled fairly extensively, and see the results. It is also because i have been involved in funding projects all over the world for the past 30 years, and seen how ineffective some programmes are.

When I see adverts for aid programmes I am often extremely cynical about the purported claims being made -- in particular the 'make poverty history' campaign. How are we going to make poverty history? Has anyone actually thought it through? Are there enough resources to bring the world's population up to the minimal standards considered out of poverty in the UK? Is there enough water in Africa, for instance?

And then I saw on the London underground an advert for raising funds to wipe out malaria. Superficially, clearly a good thing. No one wants people to be dying of malaria. But what are the implications of wiping out malaria? And more important what is being done about those implications? Since it was an Oxfam advert, I went to their web site and searched on the following: population, birth control, contraception. I then checked a few other similar sites, but nowhere could I find anything suggesting they were spending significant funds, or raising funds to deal with the implications of an exploding population. Giving aid to much of Africa in this way is like building a pollution treatment plant half way down a river, while allowing an unlimited number of industries to open up further upstream, with no controls on their outputs. It is irresponsible.

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